A CRAFT brewery and its liquor store are keeping customers happy through a new and hugely popular delivery service.

Full Circle Brew Co opened its Hoults Yard-based brewery last November, while its liquor store, The Pip Stop, opened last month within the Full Circle building.

“As a new business the timing of the COVID-pandemic wasn’t great, but our e-commerce website and new local daily delivery service is keeping us going. It has really taken off and is allowing us to pay the staff and keep the brewery open,” said Full Circle Brew Co’s Founder Ben Cleary.

Off-licences are among businesses allowed to stay open after Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered pubs and bars to close earlier this week.

But Ben closed the brewery and The Pip Stop to members of the public last weekend: “I felt it was the right thing to do both for the safety of members of the public and our own team,” he said.

“So all of our business is through online orders and our delivery service which is free for most north east customers placing orders worth more than £40. We also have a same day service for orders placed before 11am from addresses within a three-mile radius of Hoults Yard.

“Most of those ordering are from the north east, but we’re getting orders from further afield too, and from new customers as well as those who have been to The Pip Stop or the taproom at Full Circle. From a standing start we’ve gone from no local deliveries to dozens a day between our sister company Lanchester Wines and ourselves.

“Several members of the Full Circle team are self-isolating so we’re down in numbers – but we’re still producing beer. We’re being very responsible and have asked our team to come in through separate entrances and then work as far apart as possible in the office and in the brewery,” he added.

Despite the temporary reduction in staff, Full Circle has launched four, one-off seasonal beers in addition to its core range of three beers, the Repeater Session IPA, Hoop American Pale Ale and Looper IPA.

“All four new beers are now available. They are Breakout Space New England IPA, named after where we used to meet in Hoults Yard; Lake of Stars Pale Ale, named after a clean water project in Malawi we are supporting; Across the Bridge, a DDH pale ale representing our move across the Tyne from our parent business, Lanchester Wines; and a stout, Tango Sierra 8, named after a member of our team who came up with the recipe who is deploying for a year with the Armed Services,” explained Ben.

“We’d pre-sold about 70 per cent of our seasonal batch, which is very unusual, but the beer was going to wholesalers or direct to pubs so we lost the orders because they all had to close. Some of that beer has gone out to customers in growlers,” he added.

When it opened in November, Full Circle created 15 new jobs. The brewery was created in a previously vacant warehouse and has a four vessel stainless steel system capable of producing 9,000 330ml cans (or 5,400 pints) per six-hour brewing cycle.

The beer produced on-site is among those served in Full Circle’s taproom, which has capacity for 100 guests and has 20 taps, ten for their own beers and ten for guest beers.

The company invested in a rotary counter-pressure canning system, allowing it to can beer on site. This dovetails in to the contract brewing/canning business run alongside Full Circle.

“The response we’ve had to Full Circle – our beer, the brewery, the taproom and The Pip Stop – has been so positive, unbelievable really.

“I think we’ll keep going for another fortnight and then have we may have to close completely, but until then the delivery service is keeping us afloat. The longer we can stay open the better for us and the better for our customers,” said Ben.

Full Circle Brew Co sits within the wider Lanchester Group of Companies, which is owned by the Cleary family. The group also includes Lanchester Wines, Greencroft Bottling, Lanchester Gifts and others.

For more information go to www.fullcirclebrew.co.uk or www.thepipstop.co.uk