What we've been up to
I thought it may be worth writing a blog on here, given the past few months. Many of you have probably been wondering what we have been up to, so here we go.
It goes without saying, that the COVID-19 pandemic has shaken up the entire industry. I suppose I can only really write this blog post from our point of view and how it has affected us. When the reality of the pandemic sunk in and it became clear that we were going to have all of our revenues shut off with immediate effect, it leaves you in a position you've never really considered a possibility. For a brewery that has only been operating for a few short months, it affects everything. Going back to before we opening, our business plan obviously didn't account for a global pandemic.
Here is an idea of the types of discussions we have been forced into having internally:
- Can we afford to pay our rent/bills? How long can we go without any income before we run out of money?
- Can we afford to pay our staff?
- Do we qualify for any of the various government support schemes? If so, how fast can we get them? If not, what other options do we have?
- How does this affect the plans we had initially set out for the business? Do we continue as planned, or put everything on hold?
The first two of these were clearly the most important to us. We quickly worked out that we would be able to sustain the business for a short period of time without any money coming in whatsoever. So we had a small window of time to kickstart our online trade, and then we were resting the hopes of the business on you guys to continue supporting us. To be honest, we didn't really know how much support we would get, but we had no other option than to hope it was enough to sustain us financially. As it happens, the support you have shown us during lockdown has far surpassed what we could have even imagined. For that, I can't thank you enough. The idea of a two-year-in-the-making passion project collapsing so soon was gut wrenching.
On top of this, your support has meant that we can continue paying our staff in full. Our team here is fantastic. It was very important to us that they don't suffer any financial consequence of the pandemic if possible. We furloughed all staff, and paid the shortfall (20%) to them to support them. As a new business, members of our team took a bit of a leap of faith in joining an unknown brewery - the least we could do is repay their faith in us. And we will continue to support our colleagues in any way we can.
We also found ourselves in a 'catch-22' situation with how to move forwards. A few weeks prior to the pandemic, we had placed a sizeable deposit down on a new canning line for the brewery. In an ideal world, that amount of money would not have left the business if we had known that weeks later, all incomings would be shut off. The decision we had to make was as follows: do we take delivery of the canning line in a few weeks and pay the remaining balance, or put this off until we are back in business?
We made a judgement call that we would be better off going ahead - we had no realistic timeframe for when we would be able to open our doors again. The reasons behind this were simple - it meant we could package beer into can and have at least some money incoming from can sales. It also meant that the beer we had brewed and in tank would no longer be poured away, and could actually be sold online. Again, signing off the amount of money to go out of the business was quite nerve wracking, but deep down we knew it was the right decision. We had committed to taking the canning line anyway, so we figured doing so now would at least help us recoup the cost of it much faster and also provide a steady cash flow into the business.
With that in mind, say hello to (the imaginatively named) 'Canny':
We've since commissioned the canning line and released four beers into the wild, with many more to follow!
And that brings us pretty much up to date. We are brewing again, with the majority of beer being packaged into can. We should also add our thanks to the many independent bottle shops, beer bars, online retails and distributors who have also supported us by taking our products into a wider market - it's really cool when we see on social media that someone has picked up a beer a little further from home and has enjoyed it. Its really important to keep supporting these Indies too - they will also be having similar struggles.
Moving forwards, I think it will be more of the same. The quasi-stability we have now reached has meant that we can still look at our future plans and be optimistic about them becoming a reality. We are still reliant on your support online though for the time being. So again thank you so much, but please stick with us. We have some really cool stuff that we'd love to stick two fingers up to COVID and push on and do anyway - I'd love to be posting about some of this soon.
I hope anyone still reading this has coped alright during lockdown. It has been so tough on so many people many ways. I really hope that if you have picked up any of our beer, it has made things seem just a tad brighter even if it was just in that moment.
We are always trying to remain optimistic here. We'd love nothing more than to open up and welcome everyone back in ASAP - I don't know how long we have to wait until then, but I do know that we aren't going to be taking anything for granted when that time comes. Sitting around a table with friends and family, throwing back a few beers, having a laugh, in a warehouse on the outskirts of Reading town centre - what could be better?
See you soon.