Beauty of brewing with independence at Box Steam

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The brewery was born out of a passion for making beer, not money. My family was in the pub business, so we were close to our customers and we knew what they liked in a pint glass. We were buying casks of great local beer from down the road and when the opportunity came up to own the company that was supplying us we jumped at the chance to control the whole journey from maltings to pump and bottle, if you like.

We’ve been crafting real ales for over 10 years and remain staunchly independent and when someone asks me why Box Steam Brewery is so proud to be independent, I suppose there are four main reasons – we can still innovate, we can be agile, we can commit to quality, and we’re still rewarded with personal pride.

We don’t have to restrict our product development. We can explore the possibilities of brewing and try new recipes on a smaller scale than the big boys. We have a loyal following and a range of core brews we’d never change, but we also produce an experimental monthly special edition. This give us the chance to have some fun, try new varieties and combinations and test new beers with real drinkers in real pub settings. It also means we can indulge our passion and avoid the monotony of churning out the same old beer every month.

We don’t have a huge budget for market research or marketing. You don’t set out as an independent brewer to make a fortune! But being independent, provided your beer is any good, attracts a warm reception and makes creating a community on social media and in your local area a lot easier than a big brand, I think. We put a lot of effort into engaging with beer drinkers and on getting involved in community events in and around Wiltshire, Bristol and Bath. It’s fun, it’s great value brand promotion and it means we’re always listening to our customers.

Because we produce in relatively small quantities we might now be able to enjoy the ‘economies of scale’, but we enjoy the ability to be close to suppliers, close to the ingredients, right on top of the process and close to the final product. We can take our time and make sure we get it right. Our beers aren’t mass produced and blended for consistency. They turn out the same level of great because the same people are dedicated to making it so every day. Cask or bottle, the liquid inside gets our undivided attention every batch. I’d hate to think of anyone buying a bottle of our beer, taking it home and being disappointed.

Everyone at our brewery has a personal relationship with the beers we send through the gates. That means we can all be personally proud of the contribution we make. Being independent means being able to own the success that comes with being committed to a tradition and a craft. What we make makes people happy every day. It doesn’t get much more rewarding than that and we would swap that for anything.

Andy Roberts, MD of Box Steam Brewery