October Instalment of Vaux Brewery's #Chamberyearinthelife
This fledgling but ambitious Sunderland craft beer brewery is powering ahead with its plans with great successes and the odd hiccup - of the non-drinking kind.
Director Steven Smith said: “It was a real feather in our cap for our beer to be sold during Sunderland Empire’s Book of Mormon shows. The beer sold very well and it was a great testament to the audience’s enthusiasm for a locally brewed beer and hopefully the start of a really positive relationship with the theatre.”
The amount of affection for the Vaux brand in Sunderland is self evident and it presents the company with both an opportunity and a challenge.
“We need to really think carefully about every decision, in some ways more so than most start-ups as we have this legacy behind the name which has to be considered and respected. It’s very important to Sunderland in particular and therefore it’s very important to us not to get this wrong.”
“It’s fair to say there is a very steep learning curve going on for us at present. There are so many decisions that need to be made on every element of the brewery. Everything from licensing, brewing, merchandising, packaging and distribution; it sometimes feels like the list never ends!
Steven freely admits he is not from a brewing background but his quest for knowledge and carefully chosen relationships have helped overcome this. A recent batch didn’t go quite according to plan so there was a decision not to sell any of it. This he says, happens to every brewery at some point.
He said: “It’s one thing experimenting with small batches but then extrapolating that recipe to 500 litres or 2000 litres is not as easy as it sounds. Every brewhouse is different and they have different efficiencies and quirks that you can only really appreciate once you’ve brewed on it.
“We have also found the same variety of malt from different suppliers can produce a very different results. This process has given me a huge level of respect for large scale breweries who do this day in and out, with no change in flavour or quality. Macro breweries are often much maligned but their processes are often very impressive and offer some good lessons for us at the micro end of the market.”
A big part of the Vaux Brewery directors’ ambition is wrapped up with their fierce affection for their hometown of Sunderland and a determination to make it an even prouder, regenerated city.
Steven said: “If the people of Sunderland get behind independent businesses like ours and countless others then the city will be much better off for it. Places like Mexico 70, Holmeside Coffee, Pop Recs and Fausto Coffee have shown that you can succeed in Sunderland if you provide genuine, quality products or experiences.
The next part of Vaux Brewery’s development journey is to take the craft beers on the road with a bespoke Peugeot beer van from the 1970s.
In November’s update we’ll hear more about the well-travelled four wheeled addition to this dynamic start up which will allow the business to reach even more people with their beer.
Photo: Steven Smith (left) and his business partner Michael Thompson in the Fire Station, Sunderland which stocks their beer.