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Independent Shropshire brewery reaches impressive milestone

An independent Shropshire brewery is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, marking three decades of impressive progress which has seen it grow from a small father and son operation to an award-winning brewery with a team of over 20 people.

Hobsons Brewery founders Jim and Nick Davis
Hobsons Brewery founders Jim and Nick Davis

Hobsons Brewery, based in Cleobury Mortimer, was founded by Nick Davis and his Dad Jim in 1993 – and it’s been brewing a range of ales in bottle, keg and cask ever since. Having quickly become a staple amongst local pubs, in recent years Hobsons’ growing commercial success has seen it expand its online presence across the UK and overseas.

The pair first decided to start brewing in the early 1990s, when, at the time, Jim was running a pub in Somerset and Nick was working as a licensed property surveyor. Upon Hobsons’ official launch, its first cask beer, ‘Best Bitter’, entered the local pub scene — which is still proudly brewed today.

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In 2007, ‘Champion Mild’ was crowned CAMRA’s ‘Champion Beer of Britain’ at the 30th Great British Beer Festival — the most prestigious award sought after by every brewer and one that cemented Hobsons’ position on the national stage. The game changing accolade was also a significant milestone for Nick, who had taken over sole operation of the business following Jim’s retirement in 2000.

Ever forward-thinking and conscious of its environmental impact, Hobsons sits at the forefront of sustainable technologies, with its green thinking earning it the SIBA Green Business Award in 2010 and again in 2021. The installation of an onsite wind turbine in 2009 kickstarted its commitment to finding more ways to be green, from bottle labels made from waste wood pulp from the paper-making process to wooden pump clips.

Just last month, the brewery also won the ‘Commercial Achievement Award’ at the 2023 SIBA Business Awards, which shined a light on its continued e-commerce efforts and its impressive Amazon sales amidst the pandemic — a fitting recognition for such a significant business anniversary.

With research suggesting that 20% of new UK businesses fail in the first year and 60% won’t make it past three years of trading1, fortunately, thanks to the quality of its product and the continued support of its loyal community, Hobsons Brewery has maintained a positive growth trajectory, establishing itself as one of the county’s most successful enterprises.

Commenting on the past 30 years, Nick said: “As we celebrate the 30th anniversary of our brewery here in Shropshire, I can’t help but feel an immense sense of pride and gratitude. Over the years, we’ve faced our fair share of challenges, especially the pandemic, which dealt our industry an unprecedented hand and forced us to adapt our selling model.

“It also prompted us to invest in our website and explore selling via Amazon, which is now a significant part of our business. Of course, the current cost of living crisis and rise in energy prices are also having a huge impact on our industry, however, we are fortunate enough to have the support of sustainable technology such as a ground source heat pump, a wind turbine and solar panels. Nevertheless, it has called for resilience across our industry.”

As its beer portfolio continues to diversify and its reputation in the industry grows stronger, the brewery hasn’t lost sight of its proud Shropshire roots, and its location within the historic county continues to shape the brand’s identity. The business is also rooted in the core principles of ‘People, Pints, Planet’ — which refers to its community, quality of product and commitment to sustainability.

Reflecting on his proudest achievements over the past thirty years, Nick said: “There have been so many memorable moments along the way, including a variety of award wins such as ‘Champion Mild’ being named ‘Best Beer in Britain’ and winning the SIBA ‘Best Green Business Award’ twice over. These accolades showed that being sustainable for Hobsons isn’t just a tick box exercise, it’s a culture.

“We wouldn’t be where we are today without the amazing Hobsons team, which is now 23 people strong. A particular highlight for me is Charlie Edwards, one of our team, becoming the first national brewing apprentice, after starting with Hobsons part-time not long after leaving school. He is now assistant brewing manager and a shining example of how powerful apprenticeships can be. We have a young team at Hobsons and are always looking to encourage the next generation of talent.”

The brewery has some exciting news and events in the offing to mark the milestone occasion over the coming months, including a big 30th birthday party for members of its valued community to join in celebration — details of which will be announced soon.

Nick added: “We are immensely grateful for the people who drink our beer and appreciate what we do. Their feedback, enthusiasm and loyalty have been a constant source of motivation for us and we have built a fantastic community around our brewery. Here’s to the next 30 years and all the great beer still to come!”

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