The best gifts for beer lovers this Christmas
PUBLISHED: 11:10 30 October 2020 | UPDATED: 11:11 30 October 2020
British-brewed beer is becoming an increasingly popular Christmas gift, according to Jennifer Tingay, CEO and head brewer at Bournemouth’s Poole Hill Brewery.
Her Southbourne Ales brand caters for a wide range of real ale tastes and is a popular choice for those in the area who are sending presents or stocking up for themselves.
“This year people don’t want to be wandering around the shops as much, so buying beer online as a present might be more of an option,” she suggests.
“We brewed throughout lockdown and I was doing home deliveries of beer every evening, six days a week – sometimes until 10pm at night!
“We are still doing home deliveries now and expect it to get busy again as Christmas approaches. Generally, we do same day deliveries, unless people are a bit further afield.”
It’s been seven years now since Jennifer first started pondering the idea of launching her own brewery.
“I had worked in the pub trade and then in a regional brewery’s laboratory, where I did my diploma in brewing, when I was made redundant in 2013,” she explains.
“I realised my choice was to relocate, change career or do it myself.”
Two years later she won an international award for her Stroller Oatmeal Stout, giving her the incentive to launch a crowdfunding drive towards opening a brewery.
“Crowdfunding gives you a relationship with your investors and lots of people who are ambassadors for your brand,” she says.
Approximately £150,000 was raised (some 130 people are now shareholders in the company), and the Poole Hill Brewery started brewing Southbourne Ales on its own premises in 2018.
A range of ales
Today, Southbourne Ales comprises traditional cask ales: Paddler Light Ale, Sunbather Red Ale, Headlander Bitter, Grockles Blonde Ale, and Stroller Oatmeal Stout.
“There is something for everybody within our range of very traditional beers,” Jennifer says.
“Headlander just won Gold for the south west region in the Society of Independent Brewers’ Digital Beer Awards – and Silver in the national competition.”
A new craft beer
Moving forward, plans include taking on four new team members through the government’s Kickstart Scheme and launching new craft beer brand, Tingay’s.
“This will add stability to the business and is our exit strategy for our investors,” she explains.
“We are hoping to be able to grow the brand to the point we can’t cope with it and then sell it to one of the big companies so they can run with it.”
Jennifer is once again seeking crowdfunding – this time up to £250,000 – to help with the marketing of Tingay’s and towards buying new plant.
And her plans don’t stop there: “Should we do amazingly well with that, we have another idea for diversification, producing a British whisky,” she adds.
Which beer to buy
So, as an ale expert what does Jennifer suggest buying for someone who loves beer?
“If you know whether that person generally drinks a lighter or darker beer, you can select by colour,” she advises.
“But lots of beer drinkers like to have a variety of beers – and enjoy trying new beers.
“Ale is a bit different to lager: most lager drinkers have one product and stick to it, whereas ale drinkers are much more receptive to trying different beers, so a selection is often good.”
And, which beer makes a particularly good Christmas present?
“For Christmas, our oatmeal stout is a special choice,” she suggests.
“It is a winter seasonal and has lovely, rich blackcurrant and liquorice-like flavours that come through it – but, equally, our Headlander could be ideal too.”
And she adds: “For those who want to stock up for the festive season, mini kegs are perfect for this time of year.
“They have eight pints in them and are just like having beer straight from the cask.”
For more information visit www.poolehillbrewery.com or call 01202 557583.