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On a trip to the Wadworth brewery in Devizes, Adam Withrington found out there was much more to the business than its beer. One of the nicest things...

On a trip to the Wadworth brewery in Devizes, Adam Withrington found out there was much more to the business than its beer.

One of the nicest things about being a drinks writer is being able to visit many different breweries, be they big, micro, traditional, or brand-spanking new.

My visit to Wadworth, in Devizes, Wiltshire, sits in the traditional camp. The company still uses an original open copper from the 1820s and a steam engine from the 1900s powers parts of the brewery.

However, as I toured the building I began to notice there was much more to Wadworth than its beer. Walk around the back of the brewhouse and across a courtyard and you will find a set of offices where the brewery has its own painting and carpentry team. In one studio, pub signs for every pub in Wadworth's estate are made and painted.

Next door are the beginnings of a whole series of new bartops, which are being built for licensees in the estate to the brewery's own specifications.

Beer quality is also an important issue - one of Wadworth's four qualified brewers is out in the company's pubs every day, checking on the quality of what is being served and training up licensees and staff.

The company also recently converted a pub on the side of the brewery into a licensee training centre.

This all showed how much a company can do for its licensees if it puts its mind to it, and it must be reassuring for Wadworth licensees to know that this side of the business is being looked after.

This industry is all about building relationships - and at Wadworth the relationship is very strong. It was eye-opening to go on what seemed to be an average brewery tour and find a community of people buzzing around, doing different jobs all in the name of the licensees.

There was also evidence of strong links being forged with the local community in Devizes. I was taken to see Bescot and Tom, the brewery's two shire horses who deliver drays to local pubs in Devizes and the surrounding area.

They are so much a part of community life that according to Wadworth staff, if one of them isn't seen for more than a day then the brewery's phone lines are jammed with concerned callers, enquiring after the horses' health.

If you connect with your community then people will drink in your pubs in the same way that if you connect with your licensees they will be happy to work with you.

It is an example that many out there, in an industry where the balance sheet is everything, could certainly learn a thing or two from.

Related topics: Beer

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