It's a move which would make ‘The Pub Landlord’ proud... a Midland brewery is encouraging women to drink beer – with special ladies’ glasses.
Warwickshire-based Purity has set itself a target of producing seven million pints a year so is targeting more female drinkers by making glasses aimed at more feminine hands.
It’s a tactic the comedic ‘Pub Landlord’ creation of Al Murray would presumably approve of with his catchphrase “Pint for the fella... a glass of white wine/fruit-based drink for the lady”.
Purity has expanded from a tiny three-man venture a decade ago into a £5.6 million turnover business today, employing 29 people.
The regional brewer, based in Great Alne, near Alcester, was launched in 2005 by former Bass worker and pub owner Paul Halsey and business partner Jim Minkin and now claims to be the fastest-growing regional brewer in the UK.
Mr Halsey said: “We are targeting females between 20 and 40 with female-specific glassware, special goblets.
“It is an asexual company in terms of how we approach things and if you come to the Pure bar in Birmingham, you will see a lot of women drinking beer. A good proportion of our customers are female.”
Mr Halsey, the son of a professional boxer and a former Huddersfield Rugby player, added: “We first started brewing here in 2005. I had a background in the industry. I joined Bass in 1990 as a graduate and worked out at Cape Hill and at Sheffield.
“It was at the time of the brewing orders and a lot of the lease pubs went to Punch Taverns and Enterprise Inns.
“In 1996 I was approached by Highgate Brewery in Walsall after there had been a management buyout from Mitchells & Butlers. I went there as a consultant and became the sales director of Highgate.
“James Minkin was a fellow graduate and we were really interested in setting up a brewery together.
“The next stage was for Jim and I to find a suitable location. We always wanted to be in a nice rural location and we wanted to have a brewery with a really strong eco-system.
“We looked at 14 different farms, all within a 15-mile radius. We have a landlord, Granville Stevens. He owns the farm and the buildings. It was a mixed farm of livestock and arable and all these farm buildings were redundant. It started off as just three of us, a brewer, Jim and myself, and there are now 29 of us. Very quickly, the business started to grow.”
A key milestone for Purity was hiring Flo Vialan, a French brewer from Lyon. He had been working at a brewery in Swindon and brought more experience into the business.
Mr Halsey added: “I said to Flo, ‘these are the styles of beers we are doing, these are the aromas and flavours that we want.’
“In the 1990s, the Government introduced beer duty reductions – they were trying to encourage micro-breweries and new start-ups.
“We get a good duty reduction, and it enables us to plough more money back into the business in terms of sales and products.
“Turnover in 2008 was £750,000 whereas in 2005 it had been £250,000. We will have a turnover of £5.6 million for 2014-15.”
Mr Halsey explained that with a year-on-year growth of 30 per cent, Purity believes drinkers, male and female, are becoming more discerning and going for quality over quantity.
He added: “It is a highly competitive market, when we started there were 600 to 700 breweries in the UK, now there are 1,400 and half of them are micro-breweries.
“Our consumers buy into what we do, we are more aligned to their values, the big boys have moved away from localised business.
“We operate within a 70-mile radius – there are over 500 pubs in the whole area who stock our beers. We have the highest spread in the West Midlands, we are the fastest-growing regional brewer and 50 per cent of our business is within 20 miles.
“We have budgeted growth of over 30 per cent year on year; to keep in front of the competition, we are constantly evolving as a business.”
The brewery opened Pure Bar and Kitchen in Birmingham last year and is now looking at other ventures in Manchester, Nottingham, Bristol and London.