Former Caledonian Brewery managing director, Stephen Crawley, is back in brewing, having masterminded the development of a new brewery, distillery and retail space, called H1780, in his home town of Liverpool.
The multi-million pound investment has seen a former run-down warehouse in the eclectic Baltic Triangle area transformed into a state-of-the-art space that will see in the region of 9,000 hectolitres produced each year, reviving the Higson’s and Love Lane beer brands.
The beers, synonymous with Liverpool for more than 200 years, had been on Stephen’s radar for some time. HIs interest began seven years ago when he was still MD of the Caledonian Brewery. He was contacted by an old cricketing acquaintance when Higson’s was in the midst of a low-key revival.
Stephen said: “I was asked for a steer on how to move the business and the brand forward, and my thoughts were that every city needs a brewery, most great cities have at least one and, what’s more, Higson’s was one of the first pints of beer I tasted.
“I think I drank quite a lot of it, probably most of it at cricket clubs. But my affection for the past didn’t compromise my advice. I stated that for it to succeed and for Liverpool to be proud of Higson’s again, then the brand needed to be handled sympathetically.”
Stephen’s knowledge of brand building — think Deuchars IPA and Harviestoun — his experience from within the UK and intelligence gained from overseas research led him to subsequently acquire the Higson’s brand and, at the same time, purchase the Liverpool Craft Beer Company, maker of the Love Lane beers, which was based at the Bridgewater site.
Stephen said: “We loved the building, but we needed to make it fit for purpose. That meant stripping everything out, taking it back to its solid foundation of red brick and weaving a modern operation into the space, whilst retaining the character.”
The vision for the space took on momentum when drawing from his experience at Caledonian. He said: “Offering the opportunity for visitors to see the brewery and sample the product straight from the brewhouse is a special experience and made me want to offer that same opportunity to the people of Liverpool and those that visit the city.
“As a result, the project expanded into a site that now offers a brewery, a distillery, three bars, a kitchen, event space, as well as enabling us to offer tours and tastings, starting in early 2018.”
The first brew is set to be celebrated when the new site opens at the beginning of December. Stephen said: “We will not be using the original HIgson’s recipes, but creating an exciting range of new beers to better reflect the taste profiles expected from premium craft beers, as well as building on the success of the Love Lane brands.
“The introduction of our gin distillery and the launch of our Ginsmiths of Liverpool brand is equally exciting, with some exceptional flavour profiles pulled from the historic trading links for which Liverpool was famous. The project has been inspiring. We’re proud of the past and excited by the future.”