A small brewery made of tough stuff
Saturday 17 December 2022
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Ones to Watch
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Once a major port and finishing town, Grimsby, North Lincolnshire, was devastated by the decline that came with the post-industrial era, rooting many of its communities in lives of hard labour. The legacy of the grit and wit that pulled people through hard times lives on in the ethos of Docks, a brewery putting the graft into craft for drinkers that play hard, and work harder.
“We have an interesting ‘prehistory’,” says brewer, Rory Lynch. “Before Docks Beers opened its doors in October 2018, our head brewer Mike Richards had been brewing under his Axholme Brewing Company brand for six years. Prior to that, Mike spent a decade with Abbeygate and then headed up the team at Thorne Brewery. At Axholme he was releasing some pretty mad beers, as well as some solid staples. Mike brought Will Douglas and Shaz Shadan into the fold in 2016. They brought with them investment and additional hands on deck. Together they conceived the new Docks Beers craft brand.
“They upped sticks and moved the brewery the short hop from Crowle to Grimsby (Shaz and Will’s home town), a town bereft of a brewery after the closure of the famous Hewitt Brothers in the 1960s. They found a deconsecrated church near the Docks, which, fairly ironically, was built to save the souls of trawlermen and warn them of the sins of drunkenness. We completely renovated the building. Installing a shiny new 25HL brew kit, a tap room and shop and latterly a live music venue above the brewery. In doing so we have been hailed as the poster boys and girls of Grimsby’s regeneration.”
Being a small brewery made of tough stuff, Docks has emerged from the COVID years more resilient and more efficient than it’s ever been. “We’ve a brilliant team in place, and have been brewing at pretty much full capacity even after expanding our fermentation capabilities by 40% last year”, says Rory. “That expansion has enabled us to churn out a lot more one offs and specials which are always fun to brew, but it also means we have started getting our beers outside of Grimsby too.”
Rory tells me that Docks’ growth has been very organic so far. “We’ve been fortunate that people have embraced our beers, and really got on board with our impactful branding which celebrates the hard work ethic of dockers”, he says. “Beers like Hard Graft, Overtime, and Never Say Die are perennial best sellers.” But for all its success, Docks remains humble. “We are just taking each day as it comes,” says Rory, “and making the best beer we can and hope to share it with more and more people. Even if we outgrow our current facility at the church, it will always remain our brew pub and a special venue upstairs serving Grimsby’s finest craft beer to people enjoying live music and comedy.”
So why is Docks a brewery to keep an eye on? While Rory holds his cards pretty close to his chest in saying that the Docks “has some exciting plans in the pipeline that I’m not supposed to say too much about,” the team is excited by the brewery’s arrival at that sweet spot in size where it’s agile enough to move with whims of the ever shifting British palate, and established enough to know what process and procedure give rise to the consistent quality Docks has become known for in Grimsby.
“We reckon our beers are getting better with each brew,” says Rory. “We are putting out consistent, high quality, and accessible beers. Some brews may have a bit of a mad twist from time to time, but we always keep drinkability in mind. So if you fancy a beery trip to the seaside, come to Grimsby, I promise you it's not that grim.”
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