The death knell of the traditional pub may have been sounding for a while now so that its no longer unusual for us to read about another pub being sold and turned into housing and villages where there was once a pub on every corner, now counting themselves lucky if they have a pub at all. So, it is great to be able to share the success story of hospitality entrepreneurs Simon Bunn and Kris Grumbrell who, in 2011, started what is now the UK’s largest brewpub chain: Brewhouse & Kitchen.
Brewhouse & Kitchen now has 19 sites across the country, 15 of which have opened in the past two years. Their derelict to dine-in acquisition strategy has seen some of the nation’s derelict and shut-down pubs be transformed into a selection of thriving community brewpubs across the UK. Going beyond the traditional pub offering, Simon and Kris saw an opportunity to provide brewing and beer masterclasses through its Brewing Academy and has had great success by honing in on the ‘gift experience’ that is now very much part and parcel of what consumers want.
Gail Bunn, Brewhouse & Kitchen Marketing Manager explained: “We go to great lengths to make sure Brewhouse & Kitchen did not focus on the stereotypical approach to all things brewing and pub related. There is no large sterile factory unit with endless stainless steel vats that you go and wander around while someone tells you want happens at each stage of the brewing process. Instead, each of the Brewhouse & Kitchen pub has a microbrewery on the premises which is integral to the pub where you can watch the beer being brewed. Even better, everyone is able to go along and learn how to craft beer in a hands on brewing day experience where you add and mash hops with copious amounts of tasting in between as well being treated to breakfast, lunch and… you get to take home a 5k mini keg of beer! If you want to, you can go back after a couple of weeks to purchase the actual beer you made”
“It was important that the ambience of Brewhouse & Kitchen appeals to everyone and is particularly female friendly – we do have great gins and wines as well as crafting 50 real ales but we didn’t want to make that stereotypical judgement that the women will have a glass of wine and the men will have a pint of beer. We made the decision to have some nice tulip stem pint glasses as well as the traditional pint glass so that if, as a female, you do want to have a pint of beer, you don’t feel as if you have to have the standard pint glass.”
In celebration of International Women’s Day, Brewhouse & Kitchen also staged female brewery day experiences to see what the response would be like. “It was phenomenal – we were flooded with enquiries from women who wanted to come along and learn about how to make real ale. We had thought we would limit it initially to 8 people per pub so that everyone would be able to enjoy the full experience but demand was so high that some of the larger sites opened it up to double the number and we were able to offer the experience across all 20 sites. And in fact, could have filled the event time over.
“Women came for all sorts of reasons – some simply because they love beer and others because they don’t…. but wanted to find out more about it. It was brilliant as they were all so engaged with the process. Friendships came about as a result of the day and best of all, we recruited a female brewer, Belinda Kelly from that day in 2017. In the space of a year, Belinda went from applying for a job, to leading one of the FemALE Brew days herself. She had previously been interested in home brewing and decided to come along for fun and to meet up with other women having been “a stay at home” mum. Her youngest child was about to start school so she decided to apply for a job after the event. Belinda is a brilliant example of how women can make any situation work for them, she juggles her family around work and she has such passion for crafting beer. She has already won awards for her home brewing and we’re looking forward to her winning some under the auspices of Brewhouse & Kitchen!”
Kris Gumbrell commented: “Diversity across the hospitality arena – and specifically in brewing – is a priority that is close to our hearts; the success of the FemALE Brewery Experience this year is testament to its importance, with Belinda’s story with Brewhouse & Kitchen really validating the great case-studies that emerge from these initiatives. We pride our 19 sites across the UK, on ensuring every member of the communities we serve are able to experience and enjoy the true mastery behind each brew – the growing number of women participating in our Brewing Academy is a brilliant success story to emerge from this objective. We’re looking forward to the next female Brewery Experience and of course to continue celebrating the phenomenal contribution women through the ages to present-day have made to this fantastic industry”.
It seems that Brewhouse & Kitchen have tapped into something with their approach as their own analysis of their customer base has revealed that the male/female split has moved from 60/40 and is getting closer to 50/50 – it’s not there yet but progress has been surprisingly fast. For more information on Brewhouse & Kitchen go to www.brewhouseandkitchen.com