Our journey began with The Sheffield Brewery Company back in 2015, when Nick Law (Hop Forward’s Creative Director) brokered a reciprocal deal to rebrand the business and build a website in exchange for use of the brewery’s pilot kit to brew Emmanuales.
Working with the business informally for several months, The Sheffield Brewery Company offered Nick the role of Brewery Manager and brewer, which Nick undertook for several years from 2016.
Having been established for a decade, The Sheffield Brewery Company was in need to revamping in line with the contemporary craft beer boom. The branding was looking tired and the beers were largely appealing to the more traditional cask ale drinker. The owners wanted the brewery to reflect the innovative vibe of Sheffield’s creative scene, while not alienating their existing consumer base.
One of the main concerns for the business owners was that despite having The Sheffield Brewery Company as their name, not that many people in Sheffield had actually heard of them, with breweries such as Abbeydale Brewery, Kelham Island Brewery and Bradfield Brewery having more market share and dominance.
Nick was invited into the business to manage the day-to-day running of the business, while also taking on the responsibility of Head Brewer.
During this period, Nick worked with the directors to help create a fresh look for the brewery’s branding, establish and grow a social media presence, develop the taproom, increase the profitability of cask beer sales, make improvements to equipment and processes, introduce a small pack offering, market the brewery, and further expand their range of beers.
Sales and brand awareness increased, the taproom went from being an exclusive monthly beer club to a thriving venue, and – by the time Nick left in 2018 – the brewery had picked up several more awards, including Silver in the SIBA Overall Champion of the Bottle/Can Beers for a beer he created: Berlin Black, Breakfast Stout.
Over the course of 3 years, we developed the branding and marketing for the brewery. This included crafting the brand story, based on the history of the building itself, as well as references to Sheffield and the polishes that were made in the old Victorian factory where the brewery resides.
We worked with the sales team and directors to help win accounts and seize opportunities available to us through strategic partnerships, such as working with RAB for a product launch, Forgemasters and various independent businesses.
In addition to the everyday management of the brewery, we implemented QA procedures, documentation and a HACCP system that ensured that the brewery passed the SIBA FSQ. We also oversaw recipe development, brewhouse improvements, introducing small pack, keg beer and ensured the team was fully resourced to do the job.
We worked with the directors to help identify and overcome issues surrounding costings, licensing applications, systems and procedures and HR.
We first asked Nick to get involved in The Sheffield Brewery Company to help with our brewing process but soon also help develop our branding and help build a fresh image in a very competitive marketplace.
Under Nick’s stewardship, our beers have appealed to a wider audience, attracting customers in both the cask, keg and small pack markets with winners in the SIBA National and Regional Awards.
Nick’s strengths were certainly in recipe and brand development and – alongside his strong communication skills – were an asset to the business.