As we begin to say curtains to the year, I’m starting this last blog of 2020 on a positive note and doing things a little differently. To begin with, I am going to briefly update you on what we think 2021 has in store for Carnival Brewing Company. Subsequent blogs will then touch on different aspects of our year to give you an idea of how we think things have gone in bite-sized chunks, without being overbearing (hopefully).
We’ve made it!
As a business we are still functioning and have managed to get beer and merchandise into the hands of hundreds of customers around the world. Our customers, friends and families have been fantastically supportive and the positive vibes we have received all year have been heart-warming. Feedback on our beers and service has driven us on and we continue on our path in to 2021 to keep making the best beers we can.
BEER BEER BEER
2021 will begin with brewing three beers for can and some draught, including a rebrew of our collaboration with the Bonnacons of Doom and Rocket Records, PRACATAN and a new blood orange sour. We will also be launching some new and exclusive music | beer collaboration beers exclusively going into can. We aim to improve on some of our core range beers that have so far had a single release.
We continue with our plan to increase our output of Carmen, our delicious and OG core single hopped Mosaic session pale.
This is a risky strategy for us, and like all breweries, we face a dichotomy - our regular draught customers will require an unbroken supply of the beer we have committed to brewing for them. However, with ongoing adjustments to restrictions affecting hospitality, we need to decide how we can reduce the financial risk of brewing beer for draught, which may or may not go out to customers if the government continues to plough on with the seemingly random closure and restrictions of embattled UK hospitality.
In Spring we will hopefully be visiting Berlin for a rebrew of TOGETHER TOMORROW FOREVER, our awesome Cascadian Dark Ale conceived and brewed originally with Fuerst Wiacek. We are going to hopefully be continuing with our planned collaboration beers throughout the year which will broaden out from music | beer, to cuisine | beer and arts | beer releases.
We will also be picking up our advanced discussions with a variety of distributors who will be helping us get our beers further out into the wild, more frequently, around the United Kingdom.
Our barrel-ageing project will continue to roll on, with some super exciting new barrel fills including saisons, more big stouts, imperial sours and two very cool spirits projects. In Spring we will be canning a special barrel-aged beer which we think will give a new and unique spin on the concept and modern tradition of barrel-ageing.
I’m most excited about this. We want to make beer that can be experienced and enjoyed by all, and that includes the growing numbers of people who have health conditions and make dietary choices that preclude them from consuming gluten, found in wheat and barley. We are working on a mid-strength, hop-forward pale ale recipe, that can deliver on flavour and is safe for celiac and gluten-free drinkers to consume. Keep eyes peeled for this exciting development.
January sees the launch of the Carnival Brewing membership scheme, a really exciting development that we’ve been planning for six months. Finding the right time to launch something that relies on customers and supporters digging into their pockets so soon after Christmas hasn’t been easy, but we also didn’t want to launch something prematurely.
More details will be published on our blog and sent to newsletter subscribers in January when the scheme opens. Essentially, it will be a tiered (dare I use this term) membership scheme, designed to hopefully suit all budgets. Our main aim of the scheme is to fundraise the capital for our very own, on-site canning line, and will provide members with a range of exclusive special offers, merchandise and gifts. Our canning line won’t just be used to package delicious beer - we are diversifying our product offerings in 2021 into new and exciting areas.
TASTING ROOM IN 2021
Tasting Room plans are a little harder to predict. We are reliant on the UK Government’s tiered restrictions to define how we are able to operate. With tier 2 restrictions in place, we were unable to operate in a financially viable way (more on this in a future blog), so for the time being and with heavy hearts we are keeping the Tasting Room closed until we can operate without the substantial meal restrictions in place.
We are in talks with a few very special musicians to open up the Tasting Room for covid-safe and small performances – as and when we can date these and announce, you will be the first to hear. We want to bring live music back to Liverpool and we are making it our mission to do so when we can.
ZEROS AND ONES
During the first lockdown, when we had to totally adapt our business to keep the roof over our heads, we hastily launched a web shop to sell cans and crowlers. The site did the job reasonably well and we continue to use the same platform albeit with better layouts, more organisation, better photography (thanks Killian) and a much wider range of fresh product. In January we are planning an overhaul of our website and our e-commerce platform, to improve user experience, widen our audience reach and provide a stronger foundation for the coming years ahead.
We have had many requests for our beer overseas, including mainland Europe, the USA and Asia - we always intended to start exporting small-pack beers in year 2 and we are working our way through an incredibly complicated excise process and building relationships with in-country distributors to enable us to export overseas. With Brexit only days away and an uncertain outcome of deal or no-deal (at time of publishing), we aren't rushing our European export strategy. Luckily, members of our incredibly inclusive and collaborative craft beer community have already started sharing experiences, ideas and plans to provide UK breweries with information and tips about export best practice. Once we are in a position to move forward with this and we have completed due diligence, we hope to be exporting by mid-2021 onwards.
PART 2 of our 2020 annual review will be published soon…