A Suffolk beer maker believes community pubs have a bright future ahead, after cutting the ribbon on its new mini-brewery and visitor centre in Long Melford earlier this month.
The Nethergate Brewery pressed its new facility in Rodbridge Corner into action for the first time this month, with the company stating it hopes to be able better engage with the local community and boost tourism in the village.
A launch event featuring live music and morris dancers, drew a large crowd throughout the day, as visitors tried developing their own beer recipes.
Rob Crawford, Nethergate general manager, said the facility enjoyed a fantastic launch and they had been overwhelmed by the “extremely positive” response they received from those who had visited.
He explained the decision to open the brewery was motivated, in part, by a desire to return to its roots as a publicly-accessible brewery, but also because of the groundswell of community support in recent years to keep pubs alive.
“Pubs are struggling somewhat and a lot are closing, but there seems to be a bit of a fightback in the community,” Mr Crawford told the Free Press.
“It’s becoming more and more difficult to close pubs down, so I think there is a bright future ahead for pubs.
“We, as a business, started off in Clare, and we were very well known because a lot of people came to have a drink at the brewery and we were very public facing.
“But when we moved into Pentlow about 15 years ago, it was more rural and we felt we had lost touch with our consumers.
“We thought we would open it on a busy road where people can see where we are and come to try out the beers. The village was quite keen to add to this end of Long Melford.
“Long Melford is a tourist town and we hope we can add to the tourist attraction.”
A number of new jobs have also been created at the new facility, and Mr Crawford suggested staff levels could increase further in the future.
He added that they would be looking to engage with the community by opening up the brewery for tours, and by allowing access to their brewing kits, so people can try their hand at making a beer with the help of the Nethergate brewing team.