Express & Star

Black Country brewery ceases trading after 11 years

A brewing company that started in Upper Gornal has ceased trading.

Last updated
James and Tom Fownes when they launched Fownes Brewing Company at The Jolly Crispin.

Fownes Brewing Company was started by brothers James and Tom Fownes in 2012.

They initially brewed their beers, which won several awards, at the back of The Jolly Crispin pub in Clarence Street.

In October 2019 they moved to new premises at Two Woods Lane, Brierley Hill.

They planned to develop the business, expand brewing capacity and make Fownes a fixture on bars across the Midlands.

As part of this expansion they took on a brewery assistant to help with the brewing and in March 2020 opened their first pub, The Old Royal Oak in Burton upon Trent.

In a message on Facebook they say: "Then Covid-19 happened and everything slammed to a halt. Despite diversifying into bottling and spending many an hour delivering our wares far and wide during lockdown and beyond, 2020 and 2021 were almost impossibly tough for a cask beer business.

"We managed to survive those initial trials but things haven’t improved enough over the last two years. According to research commissioned by the Society of Indpendent Brewers over half of regular pub goers have not returned to the bar since the lockdowns. We certainly saw this reflected in the frequency of orders from existing customers and the reluctance of new customers to take risks on brands unknown to them.

"Even if that hadn’t been enough, we all then saw significant increases in fuel, utilities and malt prices combined with a cost of living crisis. This only reinforced a marketplace where pubs and customers struggled to pay a price for cask beer that reflected the increased costs of production and delivery".

Although Fownes Brewing Company has ceased, Tim Hibbert, the brewery assistant they took on will now be brewing Fownes ales for FOWND Brewing Company in Kidderminster.

"We’re quietly confident that you won’t be able to tell the difference. Tim was brewing these same beers on the same kit for the last four months of our tenure in Brierley Hill, and would encourage you to support this new addition to the Midlands cask brewing scene.

"Sadly for us though, this is the end of our story in brewing," the brothers say on Facebook.