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23/02/2022
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GRIMBARIANS IN CRAFT BEER

Matthew_ccexpress

PART 1 – MATTHEW WILLSON, MD FREEDOM BREWERY

Let’s kick off with a short history lesson. It’s not commonly known that Grimsby boasts an impressive brewing heritage, one that is responsible for giving birth to the ‘Pub Co’. The town was once home to the brewery of Hewitt Brothers Ltd, which grew to be one of the largest beer operations in the UK. They are widely acknowledged as the first to have the vision to build a wholesale beer business. William Taylor Hewitt was an ambitious young man. To push his products Hewitt drove around the town with a horse and cart visiting landlords in public houses and convincing them it would be more economical to buy beer from him than to make it themselves. The personal approach was a great success and the firm began regular deliveries of beer with its horse drawn carts. Gradually the idea of a central brewery became an accepted fact of business life. From controlling a few licensed houses, in 1874, Hewitt Bros went on to control more than 300 covering the greater part of Lincolnshire. They could also be found as far north as Hunmanby, Yorkshire, and as far west as Doncaster and Sheffield. But after this behemoth closed its doors no serious commercial brewing took place in Grimsby until Docks Beers opened in 2018.

The town may have been robbed of a local brewery for half a century, but the passion for the amber nectar remained and several ‘Sons of Grimsby’ have gone on to carve out successful careers in craft beer. In this new series, which will be released throughout the year, Docks Beers is profiling the Grimbarians who have lately made an impact in the brewing world. These are the William Taylor Hewitts of today and they are writing their own chapters in the intertwined stories of Grimsby and beer.

First to feature is Matthew Willson, the Managing Director of Freedom Brewery.

HOW DID YOU GET INTO THE CRAFT BEER INDUSTRY?

“My background is 25 successful years within the Brewing Industry. Having worked at Director level in both the On and Off Trade at Molson Coors for 12 years, I then became General Manager at Duvel Moortgat and I led, executed and created the Group vision within the UK/Nordics/Baltics/Russian and Irish Markets. This was when Belgian beer defined what Craft is seen as in the UK market place today. I then joined Freedom Brewery as a shareholder and MD in December 2016.”

WHAT DOES YOUR ROLE AS MANAGING DIRECTOR INVOLVE?

“As Managing Director my role involves the preparation of a corporate plan and annual business plan, monitoring progress against these plans to ensure that the company attains its objectives as cost-effectively and efficiently as possible. I provide strategic advice and guidance to the chairman and members of the board, to keep them aware of developments within the industry and ensure that the appropriate policies are developed to meet the company’s mission and objectives and to comply with all relevant statutory and other regulations – then the fun element of ensuring product quality!”

WHO ARE FREEDOM BREWERY AND WHERE ARE YOUR BASED?

“We’re an independent craft brewery based in rural Staffordshire with the ambition to become the largest independent craft lager brewer in the UK – and we’re well on our way! We’ve brewed 10m pints in the last 2 years! It’s a journey that’s taken us from Parson’s Green in London to our award winning sustainable brewery we now call home. Absolutely everything we do here is designed to brew beer, better. Beer that is natural, sustainable and 100% vegan. It’s this spirit of Freedom that makes our brewery unique. Bold. Determined. Independent.”

WHAT IS YOUR PERSONAL CONNECTION TO GRIMSBY AND HOW HAS IT INFLUENCED YOU IN YOUR CAREER?

“My childhood was spent in Grimsby and returned to live there for a short time after University. I have always carried a sense of pride in being from Grimsby and being a Grimbarian, the authenticity of individuals and community spirit is very evident and something to be proud of, these values carry well into beer being brewed locally. I also have many fond memories of being a season ticket holder at Blundell Park from a very young age until leaving for my first job, sitting on the barriers at the front of the Findus stand trying to attract the attention of my boyhood heroes for an autograph!”

GRIMBARIANS IN CRAFT BEER

Matthew_ccexpress

PART 1 – MATTHEW WILLSON, MD FREEDOM BREWERY

Let’s kick off with a short history lesson. It’s not commonly known that Grimsby boasts an impressive brewing heritage, one that is responsible for giving birth to the ‘Pub Co’. The town was once home to the brewery of Hewitt Brothers Ltd, which grew to be one of the largest beer operations in the UK. They are widely acknowledged as the first to have the vision to build a wholesale beer business. William Taylor Hewitt was an ambitious young man. To push his products Hewitt drove around the town with a horse and cart visiting landlords in public houses and convincing them it would be more economical to buy beer from him than to make it themselves. The personal approach was a great success and the firm began regular deliveries of beer with its horse drawn carts. Gradually the idea of a central brewery became an accepted fact of business life. From controlling a few licensed houses, in 1874, Hewitt Bros went on to control more than 300 covering the greater part of Lincolnshire. They could also be found as far north as Hunmanby, Yorkshire, and as far west as Doncaster and Sheffield.

But after this behemoth closed its doors no serious commercial brewing took place in Grimsby until Docks Beers opened in 2018. The town may have been robbed of a local brewery for half a century, but the passion for the amber nectar remained and several ‘Sons of Grimsby’ have gone on to carve out successful careers in craft beer. In this new series, which will be released throughout the year, Docks Beers is profiling the Grimbarians who have lately made an impact in the brewing world. These are the William Taylor Hewitts of today and they are writing their own chapters in the intertwined stories of Grimsby and beer.

First to feature is Matthew Willson, the Managing Director of Freedom Brewery.

HOW DID YOU GET INTO THE CRAFT BEER INDUSTRY?

“My background is 25 successful years within the Brewing Industry. Having worked at Director level in both the On and Off Trade at Molson Coors for 12 years, I then became General Manager at Duvel Moortgat and I led, executed and created the Group vision within the UK/Nordics/Baltics/Russian and Irish Markets. This was when Belgian beer defined what Craft is seen as in the UK market place today. I then joined Freedom Brewery as a shareholder and MD in December 2016.”

WHAT DOES YOUR ROLE AS MANAGING DIRECTOR INVOLVE?

“As Managing Director my role involves the preparation of a corporate plan and annual business plan, monitoring progress against these plans to ensure that the company attains its objectives as cost-effectively and efficiently as possible. I provide strategic advice and guidance to the chairman and members of the board, to keep them aware of developments within the industry and ensure that the appropriate policies are developed to meet the company’s mission and objectives and to comply with all relevant statutory and other regulations – then the fun element of ensuring product quality!”

WHO ARE FREEDOM BREWERY AND WHERE ARE YOUR BASED?

“We’re an independent craft brewery based in rural Staffordshire with the ambition to become the largest independent craft lager brewer in the UK – and we’re well on our way! We’ve brewed 10m pints in the last 2 years! It’s a journey that’s taken us from Parson’s Green in London to our award winning sustainable brewery we now call home. Absolutely everything we do here is designed to brew beer, better. Beer that is natural, sustainable and 100% vegan. It’s this spirit of Freedom that makes our brewery unique. Bold. Determined. Independent.”

WHAT IS YOUR PERSONAL CONNECTION TO GRIMSBY AND HOW HAS THAT INFLUENCED YOU IN YOUR CAREER?

“My childhood was spent in Grimsby and returned to live there for a short time after University. I have always carried a sense of pride in being from Grimsby and being a Grimbarian, the authenticity of individuals and community spirit is very evident and something to be proud of, these values carry well into beer being brewed locally. I also have many fond memories of being a season ticket holder at Blundell Park from a very young age until leaving for my first job, sitting on the barriers at the front of the Findus stand trying to attract the attention of my boyhood heroes for an autograph!”

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