Well, 2020 has been quite the year and definitely one that we all want to put behind us. It’s been catastrophic for our industry, and there have been many low points throughout the year, but I’d like to end the year by sharing some of my highlights from 2020.
During the first lockdown, we pretty much halted all brewing at Wild Horse for three months while our part-time team set about packaging the beer we had into cans and mini kegs and focusing almost entirely on directly supplying our local customer base. That break from brewing has quite unexpectedly resulted in us brewing the best and most consistent beers we have ever produced during the second half of 2020. Brewing started up again in June and a few things came together which we feel has helped lift our beer to new levels – I got more hands-on down in the brewery, our lead brewer Chris then came back refreshed and more creative than ever and our QC around yeast management and packaging has become the most stringent it has ever been. With some pressure off in terms of core beer production we spent the second half of 2020 completing a production plan which saw 18 special release beers released between July and December.
As you would expect, our 2020 production volumes are down on 2019 (about a third) but it’s a year in which we have produced more cans than ever before. The awesome guys at Them That Can had always come onsite to fill our cans but early on in lockdown we realised that COVID was probably going to change our business forever, so it made sense to purchase a small canning machine to bring it all in-house. Having the flexibility to fill cans ourselves, coupled with the cost savings of running our own machine, was going to be key to us adapting to a new way of doing business. Our Wild Goose Gosling canning machine was up and running in early October and has already filled over 28,000 cans.
One of the more pleasing aspects of 2020 has been how much we have been able to connect (virtually of course) with our customers. Before March, most of beer was sold in pubs so we often didn't get to talk to our customers directly. We’ve been overwhelmed by the number of online orders from our customers as well as some amazing feedback about our beer. A massive thank you again for your fantatsic support - we really do appreciate it!
Despite social-distancing restrictions it’s also been great to continue to collaborate and 2020 has seen two of our most exciting brewing collaborations to date. We brewed an Imperial Stout (884) with our friends at Fallen as well as a celebratory IPA (554) with our equine pals over at Polly’s – two beers that were so well received. It was also great to work with Manchester’s Cloudwater for the first time – they were kind enough to feature our beers on their webstore.
As we close off 2020 and look ahead to 2021, we will continue to make the best of what is likely to be a difficult couple of months at least. We’re closing for the first week of January but will be back brewing after that starting with a couple of brand-new IPAs, one of which will be part of very exciting collaboration project. There’s a load more things we’ve got planned for the year including very exciting special releases, a new loyalty scheme for our webstore and some new can artwork in the works. Watch this space!
On behalf of the entire WH team, we wish you a happy new year!