Morpeth Rotary Club
At a recent meeting, members heard from Dawn and Simon Miles, the owners of Stannington-based Anarchy Brew Co.
The business was established in 2012 and since then, they have had little time to themselves as they battle to keep up with the demand for their product.
Neither Mr Miles nor Mrs Miles are from a brewing background. Mr Miles was a tree surgeon for 11 years before he decided, along with his wife, to sell the shares they had in the business and do something different.
There are lots of small brewers around the country, but they felt that there were not enough in Northumberland and explored many areas before finally settling at a Whitehouse Farm Centre unit. They had free rein to do what they wished with the building and the costs were reasonable.
It was also good for disposing of waste from the hops and barley as the local farmers were more than happy to take it off their hands for compost, thereby costing them nothing.
Mrs Miles had been brewing beer for many years on a small scale and before they decided finally on what direction to take, they looked at their hobbies and agreed this was the right path.
Anarchy Brew Co’s success so far means they are working to full capacity and need to buy extra kegs and tanks.
The target market is predominantly 20 to 40-year-olds and the business mainly provides products to small towns like Morpeth, although it also provides some to cities like Manchester, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Sunderland, Newcastle and Durham.
Initially, Mr and Mrs Miles had not thought about exporting as they felt they had enough to cope with in this country, but they have recently exported some beer to Sweden, where it has been received very favourably.
They have carried out some experiments on the longevity of the beer in the kegs once they are opened, which is very important to some small outlets.
Mr Miles noted that getting to where they are now, producing 40/50 hectolitres a month and brewing four times a week, had not cost them much money. Social media such as Facebook and Twitter has been a huge help in advertising their beers.
It had, however, been hard work. They could easily brew five times a week to keep up with the demand. Simon thought that they were nearly at the right stage of development on output.
They have seven employees and are hoping to appoint someone to help Mrs Miles with business planning.
Exporting has taken a new turn with orders for Germany and the USA as well as Sweden, but if the business is to continue to expand, more space will be needed.
They would like to stay where they are and have started to discuss extra capacity with Whitehouse Farm Centre.
Summing up, Mr Miles said that decisions are going to have to be made in the near future. Do they sell to another brewery or scale back the business so that it is still manageable?
Mrs Miles said that lots of lessons had been learned about what it takes to be a business owner. You have to be dedicated and if you have your own business, you work harder as you have more to prove.
Several members had questions for them as it had been such an interesting talk. Laurie Walker gave a vote of thanks to them on behalf of the club.