Virtual beer tasting courses ‘saving grace’ for independent brewery

Derek Bates and Miranda Hudson diversified during lockdown to offer virtual beer tasting experiences

Derek Bates and Miranda Hudson diversified during lockdown to offer virtual beer tasting experiences. Picture: Mark Newton Photography - Credit: Mark Newton Photography

Online beer tasting sessions and brewery tours have been a lifeline for an independent brewery based in Norfolk.

Duration Brewing at West Acre was – like thousands of other Norfolk businesses – hit hard when the coronavirus pandemic closed down pubs and squeezed a vital revenue margin.

But husband-and-wife team Derek Bates and Miranda Hudson have not let their expertise go to waste and have instead been hosting online tasting courses for beer lovers to become connoisseurs.

The sessions start with a tour of the multi-million pound brewery where users can ask questions, before a session of beer tasting with the beers delivered to the users’ homes.

MORE: Norwich research shows 22,000 restaurant jobs lost in pandemic

Ms Hudson said: “It became a wonderful way to be together while apart or to help those shielding. The premise is people order a tour box and get the beers delivered in time for the event when we all come together and look around the brewery and drink together.

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“People love meeting the founders and getting a personal tour from the comfort of home with beers delivered cold from our fridge to theirs.”

She added: “We essentially webcast the tour and use a Q&A chat to interact during the tutored tasting. Informal relaxed and great for those out there that can’t physically make it out to the brewery with beer we ship to your doorstep.

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“We’ve had dads and daughters come together from different parts of the country and they make a great gift option. What says relaxation more than coming together to enjoy beer together even if the usual pub model is a little hindered at the moment.

“It’s been a saving grace for us while the pubs are closed to support online sales and build awareness of our new Norfolk brewhouse that is already a destination point on the craft beer aficionado’s circuit.”

The tour and tasting experiences can be booked as a package with the beers included.

They are priced at £25 each and will run until December.

Each package includes a 30 minute tour, four beers and a notebook, as well as a tutored tasting session of the beers.

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