Family raise a glass to the life of much-loved giant of the real ale industry

By Ed Bedington contact

- Last updated on GMT

Championing British beer: 'People have described my Dad as a real giant of the cask ale industry without ever having brewed a drop of beer,' Rob Eastwood said
Championing British beer: 'People have described my Dad as a real giant of the cask ale industry without ever having brewed a drop of beer,' Rob Eastwood said

Related tags: Beer, Camra, Wholesale

Much-loved Small Beer Chairman Tony Eastwood has died at the age of 72.

Together with his wife Jude, they opened Small Beer off-licence in Lincoln in 1980 and the business grew over the years to become Britain’s leading cask ale and craft beer wholesaler.

Tony was born in Leicester in 1948 and studied at Newcastle University where he met Jude and moved to her home city of Lincoln in 1969 and they were married a year later. Passionate about real ale, they decided to swap their local government roles for a life in the beer trade and never looked back.

Their business expanded to include the popular Victoria and Golden Eagle pubs in Lincoln as well as the Eagle in Boston plus off-licences in both Sheffield and Cleethorpes.

Their son Rob now runs the business as managing director alongside his wife Karen who is commercial director. 

Rob said: “People have described my Dad as a real giant of the cask ale industry without ever having brewed a drop of beer.

“He was passionate about championing British beer and brewers and we’re determined to carry on his legacy by ensuring cask ale continues to thrive in these challenging times."

Tony was also a shareholder and director of Castle Rock brewing and pub group, a former chairman of Lincoln CAMRA and a former director of the National Drink Distributors (NDD).

Alongside a great pint and a Leicester City win, Tony loved nothing more than spending time with Jude, their children Rob, Jenny and Stella, their partners Karen, Mark, Ash and grandchildren Albert, Elsie and Max. He died peacefully on 13 November.

“Dad was such a family man and Small Beer is a family business with all of his children and members of the extended family having worked there over the years,” Rob added.

“All of us miss him so much and although we cannot be together in the way that we would want to celebrate his life just now, we would encourage everyone who knew him to raise a glass to a life well-lived. Cheers." 

Related topics: Other operators

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