Acle-based Commando Cask Force sees export boost thanks to ‘British’ trend in US

Commando Cask Washer, a subsidiary of Hugh Crane Cleaning Equipment, have seen sales increase by 70p

Commando Cask Washer, a subsidiary of Hugh Crane Cleaning Equipment, have seen sales increase by 70pc thanks to exports to the US and Ireland.Tim Crane, right and Keith Trenton in the factory. Photo ; Steve Adams - Credit: Steve Adams

A growing trend for British brewing techniques in the US has led a Norfolk firm to see a boost in exports of its specialist cask washer.

Commando Cask Washer, a subsidiary of Hugh Crane Cleaning Equipment, have seen sales increase by 70p

Commando Cask Washer, a subsidiary of Hugh Crane Cleaning Equipment, have seen sales increase by 70pc thanks to exports to the US and Ireland. Engineer Colin Glasspoole assembling one of the washers Photo ; Steve Adams - Credit: Steve Adams

Commando Cask Force, operated by Hugh Crane Cleaning Equipment, has seen turnover race up to £400,000 since it launched in 2010.

The Acle-based firm produces cask washers for breweries across the UK, and has seen demand increase thanks to its design, which reduces the amount of water required.

And now the business has begun producing a keg washer, hoping to further expand into the US market - and cater for British breweries adopting the American trend.

Hugh Crane project manager Tim Crane said: 'Everyone is wanting to distinguish themselves and create a niche. They are doing the same in the US.

Commando Cask Washer, a subsidiary of Hugh Crane Cleaning Equipment, have seen sales increase by 70p

Commando Cask Washer, a subsidiary of Hugh Crane Cleaning Equipment, have seen sales increase by 70pc thanks to exports to the US and Ireland.Tim Crane, right and Keith Trenton in the factory. Photo ; Steve Adams - Credit: Steve Adams

'The US market was using kegs, which means there are a lot of people there doing keg washers.

'Because casks are a traditional British way of doing things, the Americans want to start using them. 'And over here, a lot of smaller breweries are starting to use kegs.'

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The cask washers were designed by Keith Trenton, who said demand was running ahead of supply.

'We try and get ahead but before one is finished being built somebody has rung up and ordered another one,' he said.

'If demand increases any further we will have to think about employing another assembly worker.'

Now brewing training facility Brewlab, in Sunderland, has bought a cask washer, Mr Trenton expects its popularity to grow.

Prices for the washers range from about £5,900 to just over £10,000, and the firm sold 30 in 2014.

Each washer uses about 15 litres of water per cask, which Mr Trenton said was far less than a pressure washer which would take 40 to 50 litres.

Hugh Crane Cleaning Equipment was established 30 years ago, employs about 60 people and saw turnover rise to about £6.2m to the year ending July - up from £5.6m the year before.

Is your business having a record year? Call business writer Sabah Meddings on 01603 772879 or email sabah.meddings@archant.co.uk