A North Norfolk brewery is looking to its next stage of its development as its small team is joined by one of Norfolk’s most experienced beer professionals.

Mike Betts, who was formerly a co-owner and director of Woodforde’s Brewery, until he sold the business in 2016, has joined the Norfolk Brewhouse, which was founded in 2012 by husband and wife David and Rachel Holliday.

Since selling Woodforde’s, Mike’s passion for beer and the county of Norfolk has never waned, and a chance meeting with Rachel — unsurprisingly at a beer festival — has led him to investing in the business and joining the team.

He said: “It was with a heavy heart that I left Woodforde’s — I had a truly fabulous 20 years there, and was so proud of what the team had achieved in terms of helping to put Norfolk and its beer on the map.

“In watching what Rachel and David were doing with their Moon Gazer range of beers, I could see that same passion for both beer and county. I was so struck, that I quipped that if ever they sold shares, they should let me know. Here we are, a few months later, and I am thrilled to have invested in a very special team.”

The move comes at an exciting time for the brewery, which will see the launch of a completely new look, new beers, and further investment into the business, which will also see the launch of a range of canned products.

Investing in staff and equipment

David Holliday said: “We have spent much of the last year carefully investing in staff and equipment to help us meet demand and increase production capacity up to 15,000 pints a week, with scope to develop that
further.

“As part of that expansion, we are having a completely new look, with more emphasis on Moon Gazer, and each of the beers taking on its own name for a hare, of which there are many from across the centuries.” This will see names such as Jigfoot, Jumper and Nibbler replacing the existing brew names of Golden, Amber and Ruby, with the brewery enthused by how their other existing hare-named beers, DewHopper and StubbleStag, have been received.

The rebranding and relaunch will see the Moon Gazer team make their first entry into the growing market for craft canned beer, but with something a bit different — a ginger lager called Jackalope (named after a mythical creature, part hare, part antelope).

The continued development of the business — with a further investment in equipment of £50,000 — has been achieved with a Leader grant, which has helped fund 40% of investment in new equipment.

As part of this funding, the Norfolk Brewhouse has been able to increase the size of its team to eight people.

David said: “These are exciting times for Moon Gazer — we have always adopted a quality-first approach to our growth, and it’s always important to us that growth is sustainable. The grant allows us to do that, and now we have added Mike’s considerable expertise and boundless enthusiasm, we are looking forward to the next chapter in the brewery’s story.”

The new-look beers and names will be launched from March 21 — the next Full Moon!

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