From fallen acorns, mighty beers grow
A little over a year ago, much loved Hampshire brewer Oakleaf Brewery hit hard times and was facing collapse. It was rescued by local entrepreneurs Dan Richards and Matt Curd together with Just Develop iT, and Fallen Acorn Brewery was born. Comment joined them for a pint of its award-winning Hole Hearted.
The number of breweries in the UK is, according to the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), at its highest since the 1930s. The craft beer movement is gathering real pace, with beer connoisseurs today able to choose from a staggering variety of beers from more than 1,700 breweries across the UK. There is, quite literally, a beer for every occasion and every excuse to raise a glass.
Gosport’s new beer on the block, Fallen Acorn Brewery, has strong roots in the region having risen from the financial ashes of the much loved Oakleaf Brewery in 2016.
“Oakleaf Brewery had been brewing some terrific beers for over 10 years in Gosport when it found itself in financial difficulties,” explains Matt Curd, Fallen Acorn’s Managing Director and part of the team at technology company Just Develop iT. “As a dedicated fan of its beers, it would have been a real shame to let it and its talented team just disappear.”
“Just Develop iT invest in a wide portfolio of businesses outside of the tech sector,” explains Dan Richards, Chief Operating Officer at Just Develop iT and a director at Acorn, “and we thought it would be pretty cool to own a brewery.”
Matt and Dan after much discussions with the administrators of Oakleaf Brewery and examining the numbers discovered a business that had promise and on which they could build. They successfully managed to buy the assets of the brewery and were able to keep its talented head brewer, Ed Anderson, and its threestrong team together, relaunching in the summer of 2016 as the Fallen Acorn Brewery.
The brewery, with a small tap room, is on Clarence Wharf Industrial Estate in Gosport, with terrific waterfront and harbour views.
Its beers are created by true craftsmen and with real passion, underpinned by a strong commercial discipline. The brand has been refreshed, and the team has been bolstered to include an assistant brewer and a sales team, all led by experienced businessman Matt Curd.
“I have spent my career in a number of different sectors leading sales, marketing and customer services teams,” says Matt. “With the support and guidance from Dan, we are building a brewing business that has firm financial footings that will secure its long-term future creating a platform for growth.”
Today, Fallen Acorn is producing some 5,000 litres, or over 8,700 pints of beer a month, supplying pubs and micro-pubs and beer festivals across a 40-mile patch. Its stable of five beers are sold in cask, keg and in bottles.
And within its first year, the Great British Beer Festival held at Olympia every year invited the brewery to include its Black Hearted beer amongst the country’s best. “It is almost unheard of for a brewery in its first year to be invited to join the Great British Beer Festival as they tend only to focus on the more established brewers,” says Dan. “We knew we were on to something good.”
“The boom in micro-pubs and the resurgence of craft beers has created a real and sustained demand for our beers,” adds Matt, “and we believe we can grow this substantially over the next few years. We can push our geographic boundaries further, and introduce new beers. We are currently exploring more bottled beers, which would open up the supermarkets. We are also considering opening our own pubs at some point too.”
One area of growth is from its almost unique ‘pilot brewery’ that allows Fallen Acorn to experiment creating small batch and specialist beers.
The pilot brewery – effectively the dream home-brew kit – allows Matt and his team to create up to 80 pints of beer trying new flavours, celebratory and seasonal beers (eggnog stout anyone?), and one-offs for individual pubs or the ultimate party or wedding bar.
Head brewer Ed and assistant Miki are hugely talented and can spend time with you crafting a beer for every occasion.
“We have had stag parties creating beer for the groom’s wedding day through to beer festivals creating their own festival ale. It allows us to create some truly special beers that may make regular appearances and even a best seller.”
But perhaps one of the biggest reasons to celebrate the success of Fallen Acorn Brewery is the fact that it has managed to keep its talented and dedicated team together whilst creating new jobs at the same time.
Now that is reason to celebrate. Cheers.
To find out more about Fallen Acorn Brewery, to visit the tap room or to order its beers visit www.fallenacornbrewing.co
* image credit: Simon Dack/Vervate