Known Unknowns...

It feels like it’s been too long since we’ve done a detailed update. There’s so much going on in the world, and things are changing faster than we can get used to them, but sometimes it’s a good idea to “take stock” and write things down. So here we are!

Sure, there are plenty of more important things in the world than keeping tabs on your friendly neighbourhood Turning Point Brew Co, but it’s important to us, and if nothing else, writing a blog post about a microbrewery leaves a peculiar archive for thousands of years to come, so to anyone reading in 3993, how did you end up here? We’d love to know what beer you’re drinking.

Existential dread aside, we are as focused as ever on making the most of our little corner of Knaresborough, where we feel properly at home. It’s hard to believe we’ve almost been here for a year. This time in 2019, we were just about ready to make a start on Turning Point 2.0. What a journey it’s been so far, but it’s far from finished…

As much as COVID has been a huge challenge (we’ll get on to that), it has given us a bit of time and space in the calendar to make some necessary improvements too...

The brew house floor is now a very vibrant shade of red, sloped towards the drain, which will make day-to-day working life far easier. Signature Resin Floors have been great and the floor looks ace. We’ve also now had our new shiny tanks from SSV in place for a couple of months, and these are starting to yield some delicious beer already. The new tanks are emblazoned with our signature UFO, which we’ve calculated makes our beer approximately 11.2% tastier. There is no way to verify/falsify that claim.

We’re somewhere close to finished with painting the interior of the brewery; it’s a big old place so it has certainly taken us a while, on and off. We’ve now got the back of the building (initially confined to storage of empty barrels, pallets, general mess) in good shape to become the start of our wooden barrel collection; something we intend to grow and develop over the coming years. The couple of barrel aged releases we have done so far represent some of our most exciting and well received beers, and we could not possibly be more excited to venture further down that road. Plus, having wooden barrels around looks cool, and gives us some great beer to look forward to, all being well!

We had to brew pretty relentlessly to have enough stock to take a break for long enough to do the floor, but with some of the beers we’ve now got in the pipeline, it will be well worth it. Anyone fancy a Pilsner, TP style, in cans? You may have seen the release of our new impy stout too, what didn’t go into barrels was canned, and is tasting gorgeous! Our brewing schedule for the coming weeks and months is looking really fun, with some returning favourites and new faces alike. As always, keep one eye on our social pages for updates. The latest crop of beers have been getting some excellent feedback; some of our (if not THE) best IPAs and sours we’ve made to date. Expect plenty more where that came from! This year’s Cosmic Flux being a personal favourite. Also, expect to see plenty of Galaxy; a hop variety we’ve been fighting to get hold of for years, now in our pantry of delights.

One of our recent releases was brewed in collaboration with a local charity, Henshaws. You can find out more about that on www.turningpointbrewco.com/henshaws but basically 10p per can goes direct to the charity, and £1 per pint of it sold through our Taproom over the last two weekends. As for the beer, it features exclusively UK hop varieties (Harlequin, Jester, and Mystic), which is not something we’ve done before. The aim was to prove that UK hops deserve more attention than perhaps they receive, and we think this beer does a good job of that.

You may have heard us banging on about the Taproom finally opening; We had been working hard getting ready for opening in March, which for obvious reasons didn’t happen. We have the luxury of a big outdoor space which makes operating under COVID times far more viable. It wasn’t clear how smooth the new system of booking in advance and table service would be, but it’s worked well and has some benefits (aside from the primary purpose, to keep our customers and staff safe):

  1. Being a little bit off the beaten track, booking ahead means no one will arrive and be turned away… you can reserve a table inside or in the beer garden too.

  2. We know how many guests we will have, and can staff and stock accordingly

  3. You don’t have to get up/queue to order!

So in short, we kinda like it. Feedback has been positive. Sure, we miss the interaction at the bar, but everything in good time. For now, this is how it goes, and we are really enjoying it. We keep the menu up to date on our website, and even have a weather app embedded into the booking page so you can check the latest forecast before you book a table with us. The Taproom will always be a good place to find our newest beers; for example, we kegged Stuck in a Metaphor a day or two earlier than expected, and so it went onto the bar a couple of hours later, as fresh as it gets! Todays visitors get dibs on the new impy stout, canned this afternoon.

Guests of the Taproom are also able to buy our cans to takeaway, though we are not setup for walk-in sales just yet. Our hours for collection of orders are Mon-Thurs 9-5pm (unless you’ve booked a table) and we do ask that people order in advance and wait for confirmation from us before collecting. Again, this isn’t the ideal situation, but it means that the team can get on with their day jobs during the week, and that Taproom staff are primarily concerned with looking after our seated guests.

Our web shop is still open and shipping orders all around the country every week. We’re adding new brews all the time and have started regularly stocking a “one of each” or “mixed case” of a certain style. The shop was active before COVID, but now it’s an integral part of how we get our beer out there. We have some interesting ideas for how to keep it fresh, so do keep an eye out in the coming weeks. As you may have seen in our posts recently, we are somewhere close to busy again with trade sales, which is great news. February of this year was a glimpse into the kind of year we were going to have for our first in Knaresborough, with beer heading out all around the UK and Europe and for all kinds of fun events. March was set to be when we took it up a gear and settled into a solid production/sales routine for perhaps the first time, but most of that was cancelled and we all know what came next. Fingers crossed though, this new momentum will keep up; pubs, bars, and bottle shops will start to enjoy some steady sales, and our industry can look to get back on its feet with a cautiously optimistic view to the future. Which leads me nicely on to…

We quite literally could not have got back to this point without your support. Every single can, mini-keg, or t-shirt we’ve delivered has helped us to get to this point now, where things are starting to look up. As has been the case for everyone (not just businesses), the last few months have brought some ups and downs, some good and not so good days, and some chance for reflection and even innovation. It has not been easy, but also not without its reward. Some positives from the last few months:

  1. We have become closer with our customers through direct home deliveries, online events, virtual brewery tours and plenty more

  2. We discovered that there are lots of people out there willing to support our brewery and take a chance on our beers, not just once but on an ongoing basis

  3. Despite a lack of physical presence, the “beer community” found ways to meet online, have fun, and keep in touch. Our online events were as much a cathartic exercise for us as they were some light entertainment/engagement on a Thursday

  4. Our team at the brewery is adaptable, dependable, and have made managing this period so much easier. We’re very fortunate to have such awesome humans make up our team. There isn’t one of us who’s job hasn’t changed fairly drastically at some point, and everyone has taken it in their stride.

We’ve had to take each day as it comes, and no two weeks since March have been alike. It’s been pretty manic at times, but we seem to have found a way through. Our initial plan was to can absolutely everything we had in our tanks, and focus on using our extra time positively, by hosting regular online events, and working on new beers. Thankfully for us, the week of the pub closures was the week we had more can stock than ever before, for our New Frontiers event. This also led to our first and probably most popular event, where we had a guided tasting of four collaboration brews, joined by guests from Roosters, 5 Points, Siren, and Thornbridge, with 150 (maybe slightly more) people drinking along with us. Complicated slightly by the fact that it was our first time hosting any kind of Zoom event, and this was back before it became “the thing” for online gatherings. Zoom has been an incredibly useful tool, and allowed us to host some really fun events, with guests from great breweries, festivals, and bars.

Perhaps the star of the show of the “lockdown” time for us were the mini-kegs, which although fairly labour intensive to produce, created a fresh take on drinking at home, and went a small way to reproducing the pub experience at home for many of you. Though we’ve stopped them for now to focus on cans/cask/keg again, it’s something we’ll certainly look to bring back every once in a while.

So once again, thank you. For your support of what we do, and to everyone supporting this industry by sourcing your beer from independent small breweries/bottleshops/bars/pubs. It’s certainly kept our lights on, tanks filled, and allowed us to continue on our ridiculous mission of making our favourite beers. We look forward to getting back out there when the world permits it, but until then…

If you can’t be good, be DISCO. Team TP xx

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