A historic Black Country brewer is aiming to expand its network of tap houses as it takes advantage of soaring demand for its award-winning ales.
Sadler’s Brewery, which can date its origins back to 1900, recently opened its new Brewhouse and Bar in Lye, Stourbridge, in a move more than doubling the size and scale of its operations and the brewer says it hopes to eventually have a network of five or six tap houses across the Black Country.
The new Sadler’s Brewhouse and Bar, located in a redeveloped industrial unit in Station Drive, complements the firm’s established brewery at the Windsor Castle pub in Stourbridge Road nearby but offers a far greater brewing capacity.
Its Windsor Castle brewery had a 3,000 pint brew while the new facility has a 9,000 pint brew and Sadler’s is now brewing five days a week.
Sadler’s was originally founded in 1900 by Nathaniel Sadler and his son Thomas later took it over. He brewed his last pint in 1927 but passed on his passion and knowledge of brewing to his son John and grandson Chris.
In 2004 after a 77-year gap the Sadler’s Brewery was reopened and Chris Sadler is now spearheading its revival.
Brewhouse operations director Tim Hodgkinson said: “The Windsor Castle site is one we have traded from for 100 years - currently from 2004 onwards - but we had outgrown capacity.
“This became available just a stone’s throw away.”
The new Brewhouse and Bar, which represented a £500,000 investment, was opened by television presenter Eamonn Holmes at the end of March.
The Sky News and This Morning presenter, who has been an enthusiastic Sadler’s fan for some time, described the Brewhouse and Bar as “an amazing facility”.
His association with the brewery originally came about through his son, a brewer of designer real ales, and Mr Holmes visited the new Lye site before it was developed.
Although the new brewery produces both bottled and cask bear, it is rapidly soaring demand for Sadler’s bottles beers that is driving rapid growth and bottled beer now accounts for 40 per cent of the brewery’s business.
Having originally signed a deal to supply Tesco Sadler’s bottled beers are now being sold in a wide range of supermarkets, including Aldi, Lidl, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s.
They are also being sold at B&M Stores, Simply Fresh, Majestic and a host of smaller independent outlets.
“Tesco was the original contract and the others seemed to follow-on,” said Mr Hodgkinson.
“We worked hard at developing our brand awareness. We went out and did tasting sessions.
“By doing that over the last two or three years we have done the hard work and are now in the situation where people are approaching us.”
Sadler’s is also now on Green King’s national list to supply its pubs with cask ale and is being courted by other pubcos keen to follow suit.
Demand is largely for its Worcester Sorcerer ale but its Peaky Blinder ale is also a fast-growing product.
“Worcester Sorcerer is one of our best-selling ales,” said Mr Hodgkinson. “But Wetherspoon in particular loved our Peaky Blinder ale, a 4.5 per cent black IPA.
“Others would love to have us on their list of cask products.”
The brewery, which has a range of 12 core ales along with monthly specials, has doubled its output over the last five years and is eyeing further growth. Currently it employs 30 staff and Mr Hodgkinson said it is looking to recruit further as it develops and progresses.
As regards future plans he said: “We are looking at expanding in the pub world and would like to have five or six tap houses in the Black Country, that’s the next dimension for us.”
The brewer is also currently talking to Birmingham’s famed Peaky Blinder pub in Dale End, a bid to make its Peaky Blinder ale available there but its cask and keg beers are currently available widely in the city, including at JD Wetherspoon pubs, as well as Bitter ‘n Twisted venues which include the Victoria, the Rose Villa Tavern and the Jeckyll & Hyde.
Mr Hodgkinson said they are also keen to attract beer enthusiasts to the Brewhouse & Bar, which is currently open from 12noon to midnight from Thursday to Saturday and from noon until 6pm on Sundays. It also hosts comedy and Black Country-themed nights on other days of the week, with organised tours on a Saturday and special beer nights being run in conjunction with Cotteridge Wines.
Beer lovers can sample 100 bottled craft bottled beers, six constantly changing craft keg beers and six cask ales.
Food is also available with most of the items having a Sadler’s beer slant, such as beef brisket soaked in Mud City stout served in a ciabatta topped with Hop Bomb cheddar or pulled pork in a Peaky Blinder and honey and ginger sauce.
Mr Hodgkinson said: “Snowhill is only 15 minutes away by train and we’re very close to Lye station.”
Another initiative has seen the brewery acquire the Black Country Belle - the famous Black Country beer bus.
It is currently being refitted and mechanically overhauled and Sadler’s plan to use it at a number of beer festivals over the summer including the Birmingham Beer Bash.