A Northamptonshire brewery is enjoying its best year yet thanks to collaring two new awards and a grant which will prompt a 40% increase in production, writes Anna Murby.
Gun Dog Ales, based at Woodford Halse near Daventry, saw its Booze Hound placed second by CAMRA in the Best Bitter category at this summer’s Northamptonshire Beer Festival while next year its Jack’s Spaniels will compete in the national finals of SIBA’s Independent Beer Awards after recently winning a Gold at the regional finals.
The latter beer is also in the reckoning for glory closer to home, having been named a finalist in the ‘Artisan Local Drink of the Year’ category of the Carlsberg UK Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards.
It is up against another member of the Gun Dog pack, Lord Barker, and four other county drinks in vying for the title, which will be announced by former Masterchef winner Thomasina Miers at the Awards Dinner at Northampton’s Royal & Derngate next month.
Now the canine-mad company is set to receive £2k from FEAST (Food Enterprise Advisory Support Team), a project part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund aimed at supporting eligible food and drink manufacturers in the SEMLEP area, and co-owner James Pickering says he’d have been barking mad not to apply to the scheme.
“We recently bought a double fermenter and that’s allowed us to spend more time on quality control which means the beers are now better than they’ve even been, so we’ll be putting this money towards funding another one, ultimately enabling us to make even more of our award-winning ales!” explained James.
“Securing the grant was a really simple process as we were helped every step of the way by our FEAST advisor and we were told we’d been successful within three weeks of submitting the forms, so there’s really nothing to lose in applying.
“Indeed it’s proving to be a very successful year all round because we took on a new sales director last November and while we already employ two further part-time staff, we know the demand is there from customers so hope to create some full-time roles before too long, especially as plans for our new Christmas beer are already well underway!” added James.
FEAST, which is worth £7.1 million in total, and which will receive £3.5 million funding from the European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020, is being led by The Mallows Company, and is supported by Moulton College, the University of Northampton and Central Bedfordshire Council.
Alongside the capital projects grant, the scheme also offers technical expertise, mentoring and apprenticeships and is free to food and drink manufacturers which qualify.
For more details of FEAST, including registering your business for the project, please contact Amanda at The Mallows Company on 01933 664437 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Meanwhile Gun Dog Ales, whose craft beers are on sale in pubs across the county, offers bottled beers, gift packs, and take-home, top-up, flagons at its on-site shop. For more information, or to book a brewery tour, please visit www.gundogales.co.uk or call James on 01327 264095.