A homebrewing hobby has matured into a budding business for two Brechin men,
John Leatherbarrow and Andy Donald launched their own craft brewery - Park Brew - in January this year, and have created four different drinks in less than six months.
The decision to go from keen amateurs brewing at home, to a business, was made back in 2015 at a beer festival.
John said: “I have been homebrewing for about 15 years and a few years ago thought launching a brewery may be something I would like to do. Last year, I was at the Stonehaven Midsummer beer happening and it was there that I made the decision to go for it.
“With my best friend Andrew we launched Park Brew back in January and have been brewing out of a purpose-built shed ever since.”
The first two beers the duo created were an IPA and an 80 shilling. John explained: “We started by focusing on two core beers. Townhead - our session IPA and Cross Keys our 80 shilling crossed with an Irish Red. Both are 4.4%.”
Two others beers - a Brown Porter called North Port and a Mexican Cerveza styled lager called St Ninians - have since been put into production. The names have kept a local theme - with Townhead inspired by the original distillery that later became North Port Distillery.
The beers have since been stocked in a number of locations in Angus - and even as far afield as Liverpool.
John continued: “Things have been going great. We have both beers at this year’s festival in Stonehaven and our beer is stocked in a growing number of locations throughout Angus. The hotel my brother works at back in Liverpool are also stocking both beers.”
Despite the popularity locally, they are keen to keep their products in specialist stores. John said: “We don’t want our beers going into supermarkets and main stream off-licenses. We want to keep them limited to specialist retailers and Ray at the Gourmet Grocery has been a fantastic supporter for us.”
The pair attended last weekend’s Pageant to help on Ray’s stall, were they were also taking orders ahead of Father’s Day.
They are also hoping to pair up with another local business. John explained: ““We will also be helping to launch a new range of steak and ale pies from Bruce Brymers. Gav has been very supportive and is bringing out a new range using one of our ales.”
The popularity has also seen a spike in the number of litres brewed each week, with the past few weeks particularly busy.
John said: “Last week was our busiest so far. The Park hotel in Montrose has a lot of walkers staying just now, and this has been great for our beers, with orders bigger than a normal week’s brewing.
“We have been making 150 litres, or thereabouts, each week and this week had to increase production to 245. We are looking to move out of the shed soon so we can increase production over 300 litres.”
While things have been going well, John admitted that it’s not been an easy time getting the brewery established - especially as both he and Andy work at full-time jobs as well as running Park Brew.
He said: “It has been a lot of hard work getting the brewery up and running - lots of ups and downs.
“It isn’t as glamorous as some may think. Lots and lots of cleaning, and long hours. We brew on a Sunday starting at 6am as we both have fulltime jobs.”
They are also growing their own hops, with the aim of developing season beers.
John continued: “We grow some hops too - which is great as they are limited in supply and are pretty costly. In November we will be bringing out our seasonal beers based on the hops, and other beers throughout the year using locally sourced ingredients.
“All in all it’s a fantastic business to be in and we get great satisfaction when we talk to customers and hear their feedback - which has been fantastic, however our biggest thanks has to go to our wives as, without their continued support, we wouldn’t be able to carry on.”
For more information on Park Brew, visit www.parkbrew.com