Yes, we can: Brewer Redwell seals Tesco deal after fitting new production line

Founder Patrick Fisher, front left, with his work force at Redwell Brewery celebrating a major new d

Founder Patrick Fisher, front left, with his work force at Redwell Brewery celebrating a major new deal to supply its canned craft beer to Tesco. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2017

Norwich's position at the forefront of the craft brewing revolution has been reinforced after a city brewery landed a major contract with Tesco.

Redwell Brewery's canning machine, as the brewery celebrates a major new deal for their canned craft

Redwell Brewery's canning machine, as the brewery celebrates a major new deal for their canned craft beer with Tesco. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2017

Redwell Brewing has been selected as one of the supermarket giant's suppliers as it scales up its offer of small-batch brews across more than 800 stores, and dispatched its first shipment of 'tens of thousands of cans' earlier this month.

The deal has been underpinned by the Trowse-based brewery's investment of £280,000 in a new canning line, which was made possible through a grant of £38,000 from the Future50 programme.

Co-director Patrick Fisher could not reveal the scale of the contract, but said the initial order had been the biggest in the brewery's history.

'It's been manic: we've been working until midnight but we've all been in the trenches together, and it's been a real team effort,' he said.

Redwell Brewery founder, Patrick Fisher, celebrates a major new deal to supply its canned craft beer

Redwell Brewery founder, Patrick Fisher, celebrates a major new deal to supply its canned craft beer to Tesco. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2017


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'We've taken a dream and turned it into reality. Now anyone from Norwich can go into a Tesco store across the majority of the country, and see a product brewed right here on their doorstep.'

Up to 10 new roles are expected to be added to the 17-strong team at the brewery over the next 12 months, though they are not dependent upon the Tesco contract, said Mr Fisher.

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Redwell will supply three beers to the supermarket – Steam Lager, West Coast Pale Ale and Kofra Stout – all of which are canned using the new production line at the brewery, replacing a mobile canning machine which visited previously.

But Mr Fisher said breaking through to sell in mainstream supermarkets did not dilute the ethos of craft beer, a sector which continues to grow.

Jason Fleet, line manager at Redwell Brewery, with the canning machine, as the brewery celebrates a

Jason Fleet, line manager at Redwell Brewery, with the canning machine, as the brewery celebrates a major new deal for their canned craft beer with Tesco. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2017

'The big US craft brewers all had these decisions to make on their journeys,' he said. 'Those who realise people across the country could try their products, and have the confidence, will take the opportunity.

'The US are 15 years ahead of us, Australia is five years ahead and those markets have continued to grow.'

With the world's biggest brewing groups now entering the market, Mr Fisher is relaxed about the competition.

'Craft beer is about trying lots of beers,' he said. 'Ultimately, it's always quality that speaks.'

A canny investment

The company's new canning line will take the place of a mobile canning machine which visited the brewery.

Redwell sees canning as the future direction of craft beer, as it keeps beer fresher for longer by protecting it from oxidisation through contact with the sun.

'The way the market is swinging quickly is that more drinkers are moving towards the 330ml and 500ml cans. They are more environmentally-friendly, and a better way to package beer for transport,' he said.

At capacity, the canning line could fill up to six million cans a year – at least a four-fold increase on Redwell's current output.

Mr Fisher added: 'The canning line is to future-proof the business, because our research shows that's an area that's going to grow.'

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