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Wolverhampton friends launch brewery

By John Corser | Wolverhampton | Wolverhampton entertainment | Published:

A group of friends from Wolverhampton have launched their own brewery as the craft beer industry booms across the UK.

The Punchline team, from left, Louise Rowan, Lisa Shackleton, Richard Shackleton, James Plant and Andy Bate

Each of the beers being produced by Punchline Brewery are named for the punchline of a different well-known joke including Why the Long Face, Dyathinkhesaurus and The Other Side.

A report released this week found that sales of craft beers for the top 30 independent craft brewers have risen from £27 million five years ago to £125m for 2016-2017, led by Scottish brewer BrewDog.

In the last year alone the increase was 44 per cent.

A record 520 new breweries were launched last year and the number of trademark registrations for beer brands rose by 19 per cent.

The growth in sales has also been seen by Upper Gornal's Fownes Brewery, which was started by brothers James and Tom Fownes five years ago.

The brothers have just invested in bottling equipment and are seeing demand for their bottled craft ales growing quickly.

James agreed that craft beers were seeing the biggest growth in the wider brewing industry.

"Lots more places are taking craft keg beers now. It and bottled beers are another route to market that has opened up for us. There is also a lot more drinking of bottled beers at home as pubs have closed," he added.

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Fownes, which is based at the rear of the Jolly Crispin pub in Clarence Street, is now looking for bigger premises to met the growing demand for its beer

Punchline has taken over the former Sacre Brew brewery in Monmore Road.

The American founder of Sacre Brew, Gwen Sanchirico, advised the Punchline team of husband-and-wife Richard and Lisa Shackleton, Andy Bate, Louise Rowan and James Plant on setting up before she returned to the United States.

Punchline, which can brew 200 litres at a time and has four fermenter vessels, began producing keg and bottled craft ales this summer.

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Mr Shackleton said they were in the early stages of establishing the business but had already found outlets for its bottled beers in the Wolverhampton area including The Hungry Bistro in the city centre.

"Of our first five beers, two of them have sold out in bottles already and we are now rebuilding stocks," he said.

"We are also hoping to have a tap room at the brewery once a month and we have a tap room takeover at the Arena Theatre in Wolverhampton on October 14."

"We are a group of friends who had always talked about having our own brewery and when the opportunity came we took it. The name Punchline was one that always kept coming up when we discussed it and having each beer named for a different punchline of a classic joke has gone down well."

Three more Punchline beers are being launched in the next couple of weeks.

"We are trying to brew beers that we like and then see how they go down with our customers. Those that are liked we will re-brew and produce continuously.

"It is a part-time operation between the five of us at the moment, but we hope to invest in a bigger operation as we grow," added Mr Shackleton.

John Corser

By John Corser
Business Reporter - @JohnCorser_Star

Express & Star business reporter at head office, Wolverhampton. Welcomes all news of companies and business organisations.

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