It's hard to believe we are nearly two-thirds of our way through 2023 - time really does fly when you're having fun!
When I left gainful employment in November 2022 to pursue my dream of owning and living off of my own business, I did so with great trepidation. Even with the biggest leaps of faith I couldn't have imagined getting this far. Fast-forward nine months and here we are, reflecting on what has been an incredible time.
It's fair to say January through to March was a nervy period, things were bleak across the board for us all, let alone a reasonably new brewery. However, as we got into April and the sun started to shine, everything seemed to go our way. Events we attended were blessed by incredible weather and we were fortunate to have been asked to those events based on what people had heard about us.
First up in April we had the Bodenham Arboretum makers market, where our good friend Lisa and my father-in-law John manned the stall. We had been part of this market in December and it was great to see both returning and new customers who have since bought from us repeatedly. On the same weekend Sam held a tasting at Hodgehill Garden Centre and it was a resounding success. Hodgehill have become one of our most loyal and reliable trade customers in 2023, with Farmshop Manager Gemma being particularly supportive.
In May we had our regular market dates at Edgbaston, Malvern and Worcester High Street. It's always great to attend these and each one of them was incredible. Financially, Edgbaston topped the same date last year. The weather was fantastic and due to my sister Shelly being unable to help me that day, I was put to work keeping up with the customers!
Malvern was equally busy - this being our first time attending - and we were blown away by the support and feedback. We have started doing tasters at markets this year and it has made a significant impact as customers get to try the latest beers before buying them. It gives them confidence the product is worth buying.
One of our first pop-up taps of the year was Brinton Park's Coronation event. John and I were on the taps for the day during a superb event with live music acts presented by Load Street Studios and plenty of entertainment for families to enjoy. The bar faced the open park where there was a sea of people enjoying the day. What was interesting about this event was that a lot of people said they didn’t like craft beer or beer itself. However, after a quick sample, we soon changed their minds. A really busy and enjoyable day celebrating the Coronation.
The big event in May was the Alcester Food Festival. This event is one of the biggest of its kind in the country and is particularly hard to get a pitch at. When we arrived it was clear to see why - it was massively well-executed and stretched the whole length of the town. We were on the south side pitched next to a Greek food trader who had a queue 20 people deep from 9am until 5.30pm - that's how busy this event was. It was fitting that the pitch we had was directly in front of the pub in which our father's wake was held several years ago.
The beer was well received and Lisa, Sam, Shelly and myself had a great day meeting new and familiar faces. Our Belgian wit Dog Days proved a huge draw on the day, to the point the chiller couldn't handle how many pints we were pouring!
We will be back at Alcester in October for their autumn iteration of the festival and needless to say, we are all excited for it.
June saw us venture into the mobile bar arena and for the first time we sold more than just beer. We were asked by a family member if we would be able to do a bar for a dog show event in Astwood Bank and we duly obliged. It was a great opportunity to test the water for another arm to the business and the weather was cracking. It was also the Copper Beech truck's first venture out since it was rebranded by our friends at Outpost Custom - and it probably got as many glowing reviews as the beer itself. Big thanks to Lisa, Shelly, Sam and my niece Paige for the hard work over the weekend.
Our next event in June came rather out of the blue having received a phone call with just a week's notice to ask if we could take the bar to Bodenham in Herefordshire for a local food festival.
We had previously spoken with Andrew about doing the event as he was impressed by our setup, but he already had a brewery to fulfil the spot. Unfortunately for them (but fortunately for us), they were unable to make the event and Andrew called us to see if there was any way we could do it. I sounded the alarm to the many volunteers who help us and Daftaboutcraft Dave and I went down to Hereford for what turned out to be a fantastic day.
I said earlier that we've had a lot of luck this year and if getting a pitch at this event was a stroke of luck, then the fact the thunderstorm that loomed held off right until the last minutes of the day must have been a miracle sent from above!! It was a great event to be at with Dave and I think he found it quite rewarding to pull pints and chat everything Copper Beech with the customers. Dog Days was again the biggest winner of the event, although the secret keg of Common Ground also kept customers interested.
We then had our first weekend where we had to pull double duty and there was multi-tasking a plenty! We took the main bar down to Severnside in Bewdley for the Dine and Devour Food Festival. Our lime-infused lager Lucky Shades had just been released and over the weekend we went through three kegs and had plenty of cans purchased for taking home. The highlight for me was the two gentlemen stopping by for a 'quick half' because they needed to get back for dinner with their wives. Four hours and several pints later the wives joined them!
Shelly and I manned the first day, but a special thanks has to go to Shelly and her partner Matt who closed down the bar on the Saturday night so I could take over childcare so Sam could go out... the joys of running our own businesses and doing 90% of the childcare!
On the Sunday John manned Dine and Devour (beating our total from the day before) while I went down to Arley Arboretum for their Father's Day event. It's unfortunate being a new dad that I had to work, but I'm glad I did - Sam and DeDe came down to see me and we had a great time meeting people. The highlight of this event was the new beer style for Lucky Shades affectionately becoming "lager-infused". It was a great day weatherwise and once again an almost certain storm held off... that was until I got to Bewdley to derig the other bar and got drenched by a monsoon.
July was a massive month. As well as our usual markets, we attended two huge events for us.
The first was the Malvern Food Festival, which we had been at 12 months earlier when it had been our first ever event. We had learnt a lot over the intervening year and returned with more experience, better beer and a lot more brand awareness. We absolutely smashed it out of the park and had a record sales weekend, topping the previous year significantly.
This was huge for us as and also gave me so much confidence in what I am doing, with numerous existing customers coming back to see us. It was also great to see some of our trade customers pop by, feeding back on how well our beer had been received in their venues. You would think the highlight for me would be the money we took, but it wasn't. The highlights were seeing an old work colleague and former manager of mine from when I was a lot younger, catching up and getting amazing feedback from them. And also an industry peer having our beer, appreciating it and recommending friends to come the following day to try it. It was great having conversations with people I have respected from afar and not feeling out of place.
The two beers that went down best were the last keg of Gloop (for now!!) and Birdie (Shelly was on duty after all!). Big thanks to Dave, Lisa, Shelly, Sam and John for their help on this event because I could not have done it without them.
Just before Malvern we had received a speculative enquiry as to whether we wanted to do the next event - the general consensus in the group chat was that we had to do it. The Copper Beech team assembled with our loyal volunteers scrambling to move work around and we signed up for it. It was the Craft Brew Festival at Printworks in Digbeth.
This was incredible. It was our first industry-specific event and was something I really wanted to do - we have a great time at the food festivals and markets, but we still are a niche product. Having a 1,500-strong captive audience was appealing and boy it didn't disappoint. Words cannot describe the feeling of getting instant feedback and seeing the facial expressions of people who had never heard of us enjoying our beer. One Night In Laguna and One Eight Nine made their returns to the bar and they didn't disappoint, with many people saying Laguna was the best beer at the festival. The highlight for me was Reiss and Nige from North Brew Co realising we were a local brewery from Reiss's home town, them proceeding to sample each of the beers and loving all of them. Nige's feedback to Sam brought a tear to her eye.
The event itself was awesome, but what followed in the days after has been game-changing. We often get a lot of interest in trade purchases, but most leads do not come off. On this occasion, every single one of the leads actually materialised and we have booked tap takeovers, pre-sold beer and booked new events as a result. Big love to Lisa and Dave who again dropped everything to help me out, as well as Sam who puts up with my anxiety in planning these events. John joined us for the Saturday night session and it’s safe to say he had a great time. I think by the end of it no one got away without trying Laguna!! Shelly and Matt deserve a special mention too as they helped me out big time by delivering our trade orders so I could rack some much-needed Birdie into kegs!!
As you can see, we have been busy and this is only a small amount of what we've been up to. We've also been working hard behind the glamour of Instagram and Facebook to drive the business further and you will see a lot more on this in the coming weeks and months.
Thank you for reading my ramblings on what we have been up to. Please check out the events page for info on where we are next and please pop into an event and make yourself known. We love meeting you!