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Business

Case study: Brigstock Brewhouse

Company - Brigstock Brewhouse

Owners – Philip and Sally Wilks

Websitehttp://www.brigstockbrewhouse.co.uk/

Phone – 01536 373428

Ale for saleAbove: Sally Wilks selling Brigstock Brewhouse ale at a festival.

Background

The Brigstock Brewhouse was established following many years of Phil enjoying amateur home brewing and a request from his son to create a bespoke ale for his wedding. The success of ‘Potter’s Ruin’ at this happy family occasion led to Phil and his wife, Sally, setting up a “very small” brew house with sons, Tom and Sam, involved in designing beer labels and managing the website.

Phil explains his love for the beer he makes: “All of our beers are made using natural spring water from a local limestone aquifer, grain freshly milled for each brew and whole hops. This unique combination brings a superb smoothness and clarity that I love and our customers love.”

Local regulatory support

When East Northamptonshire Council’s public health team was approached for assistance, Health Protection Manager, Julia Smith, went out to Brigstock Brewhouse to talk through premises specifications, food safety and the required documentation for running a food/drink business.

Following this useful initial visit, Phil was put in touch with the planning team to check whether he needed any new permissions for his brew house. Planning queried some elements of Phil’s proposal but a quick chat meant that it was swiftly resolved and no planning permission was needed, provided Phil kept within agreed limits.  Phil explains: “Whilst I was on the council’s food hygiene course, I mentioned the issue I’d had over whether I needed a certain planning permission for my venture. Racheal Phillips, the Environmental Health officer running the course, took the initiative and arranged a meeting with planning during the lunch break of the course. She even brought me a sandwich along so I didn’t miss lunch. If it hadn’t been for that meeting, I probably would have given up on the whole project. As it was, we talked, I re-submitted the application and had it confirmed that I was okay to go ahead. That help was invaluable and gave me confidence that I had the support of the council to launch my business.”

As there was no template for a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) plan for a small brewery, Phil had some trouble completing his HACCP so he popped into the council offices where Julia talked him through the information he needed to include. This means that Phil now has the skills to keep his HACCP up to date as changes to his business come about. It also meant that the council went away to develop a template HACCP to help future brewing businesses.

A quick call to Business Rates established that Brigstock Brewhouse did not qualify for rates and a conversation with the licensing team determined that Phil needed a personal and a premises license. The paper work was swiftly completed and the brew house was another step closer to opening its doors.

The council also put Phil in touch with Trading Standards to ensure he had the right information about weights and measures, how to implement and use a refusals register, correct labelling and how to spot counterfeit goods. As well as a quick response to his queries, Phil also received a visit to check that he had everything he needed to start trading. The officer also made some recommendations should Phil decide to expand the business including developing a gravelled section at the front of the brew house into a tasting area for customers.

What’s next?

Brigstock Brewhouse is now a well-established local company with a reputation for fine quality ales. Phil and Sally attend local farmers and food markets to sell their ales where they often run out of stock – yes, demand is that high for a good pint. They are now looking at introducing a food element to the business and are talking to East Northamptonshire Council about food hygiene regulations and best practice within a small business.

Business benefits

  • Excellent local food safety regulatory advice has supported set up and development of the business.
  • Tailored food safety support for a small brew house.
  • Food hygiene training.
  • Excellent standards of food hygiene.
  • Expertise and excellent customer service by council staff helped overcome regulatory issues that had the potential to stop the business launching.
  • Valuable time saved due to an efficient and flexible approach by council officers.
  • Helping the business achieve its local potential.
  • Potential for expansion of the business.

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