Saturday, 8 March 2008

Very Good News!

I read continually about various "brands", all look alike and taste alike lagers, setting out to differentiate themselves in an increasingly crowded market. Some are obvious such as Alhambra the Spanish fizz producer aiming at tapas bars and Spanish restaurants or Tsing Tao, aiming at Chinese ones. There are loads of them coming out of the woodwork as importers take advantage of the disarray in which the lager "on trade" currently finds itself. They all have perceived niches to aim at. But they are all, by and large, tasteless industrial fluids, carried expensively over miles of ocean. Want to feel my big carbon footprint Lagerboy?

It is therefore heartening, pleasing, and just bloody good news to see that one of my favourite breweries, Copper Dragon, the Skipton-based cask ale producer, is to double its brewing capacity by moving to a larger site in the town. Copper Dragon produce superb beers such as Golden Pippin and Black Gold. They are modern, clean, hoppy and flavoursome beers. If you haven't had their beers you are truly missing out. The new 120 barrel plant will be built by an unnamed German Brewery, will cost £2.5 million and will double capacity. It will stay in Skipton to draw on the same water it currently uses. At the same time the brewery is looking to increase its current estate from 10 to 30 pubs.

Copper Dragon has had a 500% growth rate in four years. Who says there is no future in cask?


Tyson said...

Yes it's great news. The future of cask ale lies in brewers like CD who have an excellent product and the capabilty to deliver what they promise.

Zak said...

It's worth mentioning that they also do a lot of bottling. I'm pretty sure that Golden Pippin was our best-selling bottled beer last year.

MicMac said...

Hi Pete, I'm pretty sure the brewery will come from a brewplant building company that trades under the name of Bavarian Brewery Technologies -
(just to confuse us, they manufacture the plant in Hungary, but seem to be based in the US!).

I think Copper Dragon bought their original 10 Bbl & later 30 Bbl plant came from the same supplier. This is a 4-fold increase in brewlength - FFS!

I do really like their beers, but for a while it seemed like it was pushing equally good, more local beers off the bar in our area (Merseyside & around).

This is a great, confident step for them - I'm very curious to know the roots of their success!

MicMac said...

Oh & there's a bit more on their site -
with a load of pics if you click on "the construction".

Tyson said...

I think the success is down to Steve Taylor, their MD. If you get to meet him, you'll know what I mean. A very dynamic figure, he had the money, the contacts, and most importantly the vision to make his idea reality. Interestingly, he runs the operation on left wing principles and it doesn't seem to have done it any harm!

Tandleman said...


I assume in addition to what Tyson says, they have a great business plan that convinced their bankers, in this case, The Royal Bank. It helps that they produce the kind of beer that people just want to drink! Zak adds good info about their successful bottling operation. A good business that know what it is doing with a dynamic leader. Great stuff!


I like it even more now!

MicMac said...

Hmmmm, very interesting - I didn't know the left-leaning bit, but I'd heard good things about the type of relationship they like to have with their tenants - i.e. a fair one!

The website (beautifully open & comprehensive) also has a really detailed explanation of the lengthy processes that go into their bottling. AFAIK bottling is still outsourced over the border by Thwaites - who bought the bottling line from Brakspear's (Henley, not Witney), who had previously contract-bottled for Thwaites.

There was a wee mistook in my earlier post - the brewlength of the new plant is 60Bbl, but designed to easily manage double brewing, hence the daily figure. Still very impressive!

Pete re the bank's backing - I read somewhere recently that microbreweries are being seen as a much safer investment than many start-ups/expansions (strikes me as a bit odd tho given the whole "56 pubs a week closing" malarkey!?)