Hardknott Brewery to close

The owner of one of Cumbria’s best known small breweries is to shut.

Dave Bailey, of Hardknott Brewery in Millom, said a saturated market and big breweries forcing smaller beer-makers off the bar in pubs were responsible.

He said it was no longer sensible for him to invest more personal equity in a market that was saturated and where brewery gate prices were stagnant when costs were rising year-on-year.

He said: “We just can’t compete with these big boys. It is extremely difficult to get beers on bars. It is sad because apart from anything else it limits customer choice.”

Mr Bailey, 52, a former engineer, opened Hardknott 12 years ago and has won a batch of awards for his ales.

With beers including Azimuth, Lux Borealis, Katalyst and Continuum, Hardknott has carved itself a place in the craft beer market.

Earlier this month it picked up gold at the Society of Independent Brewers’ North West keg category for its Urban Underground ale.

Mr Bailey, who said he hoped there would be no job losses among his small staff, said he was trying to partner with another brewery so the production of his beers the would continue at another site.

He said: “I am hoping that some like-minded brewery in Cumbria with spare capacity will continue our beers and that we can also continue our contract with Morrisons in this manner.

“It is sad that we are closing but there is over-capacity and access to the market is difficult.”

Announcing the closure on his blog, Mr Bailey wrote: “It continues to frustrate me that many commentators in the industry are heralding how massive the craft beer thing is, and yet stupefied by what appears to me to be an inevitable likelihood of massive attrition of many small brewers as they realise that making money at this daft job is the preserve of very few.

“We do not know yet what the future holds. We have a hope that we may well keep the Hardknott ethos and beers alive in a way that stands by the provenance and spirit from which we were born.

"We are already engaged with potential partners in this regard and hope to have some news soon.

“We also have beer in tank and some stocks. We think at current rates of sale, and with stuff in production, we'll have beer until May or June, and selling it would make me feel a little happier.”

from: http://www.timesandstar.co.uk/news/business/Hardknott-Brewery-to-close-574cbc3b-9686-412e-938c-c3fbcfcd9310-ds