Top tips from Titsey on brewing success

By Rebecca Weller

- Last updated on GMT

Building a rapport: securing guest taps in pubs crucial to success for small breweries (pictured: Titsey Brewery new taproom)
Building a rapport: securing guest taps in pubs crucial to success for small breweries (pictured: Titsey Brewery new taproom)

Related tags Brewery Beer Kent

Building a strong rapport with local communities to secure guest ale taps in pubs is crucial to the success of a small brewery, but quality and marketing are top of the list for Kent-based Titsey Brewery.

Titsey recently expanded into a bigger premises with a taproom in Westerham, upgrading its 100-litre system to a lager tank that can hold 4,000 litres as well as three other fermenters totalling 2,000 litres via a 10-barerel plant.

However, the journey to this point has been “hard graft” and those looking to start a small brewing business should not be in for the “short-term” or to make millions, advised the firm’s founder and head brewer, Craig Vroom.

“It keeps you up at night, it takes a lot of money, but it is more about the passion and love of it, you’re not necessarily going to make millions out of a brewery.

“It’s a lot of hard work and you don’t necessarily get paid for the extra hours you do but once you get to this stage you can sit back and it’s quite a nice feeling. You get a different reward, not just money but accomplishment.”

Vroom added while guest ale taps at local pubs are hard to secure in the “tough” brewing market, they are very beneficial to small breweries like Titsey.

Everyone's struggling 

For those looking to secure guest taps, Vroom urged other breweries to focus on building a strong rapport by “looking after” their customer base through supporting local charities and events.

He added: “We sponsor quite a lot of things at the moment and we're looking to work a lot more with the community and do charity stuff. I think that all helps.

“I'm going to be spending my money in the local pubs, I sponsor their kids football team, by supporting them, they will support me.

“It’s tough because everyone's struggling with all the costs going up. But we've hit that crest now for energy prices and everything else”.

While quality was top of Vroom’s list for anybody starting a brewery and looking to secure guest taps, he explained branding and marketing were crucial and should be perfected before the first beer is even brewed.

He said: “We spent quite a lot of money on branding initially, before we even brewed our first beer, because that's what the customer is going to see first.

“You can have the best beer in the world, but if you can't sell it off shelf compared to anyone else, then nobody will open it.

Fighting against big companies 

“It’s all about quality and making sure your products are spot on.

“But you’ve got to get branding right. Make sure that's in place first, and then make sure the beer that goes in the bottle is just as good and go from there.

“I've made sure I've employed someone that knows what they're doing. Because everyone looks at their phone, day in day out, all day, every day”.

The brewer, who stared Titsey in 2017, added despite the infrastructural challenges of opening a brewery in a rural setting, the hard work is worth it to get valuable customer feedback face to face as well as being good for profit margins.

He continued: “You can pull someone a pint and see their reaction straightaway, which is great, because then at least you can fix any issues quickly, that's ideal.

“As a small brewery we are fighting against these big companies that can get big discounts with a bulk buying, so the taproom helps because we can sell direct to the consumer.

“That's been a massive help with cash flow and getting the business rolling better.”

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