Shropshire Star

Ludlow Brewing Company set to double beer capacity in major expansion

A south Shropshire brewery has announced a major expansion over the year ahead, potentially doubling capacity.

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Head Brewer Cody Palin and MD Gary Walters In front of the new keg system with a craft beer release from Derailed by Ludlow Brewery from last year, Jam Dunk.

Ludlow Brewing Company recently added keg beers to its product portfolio after producing cask ales since the company’s inception in 2006. Work to install four new state-of-the-art brewing tanks has begun, with the brewery setting its sights on launching its first lager by summer.

This month, a sales manager has been appointed to support the brewery’s growth plans.

Currently the brewery, housed in a renovated Victorian railway shed in Ludlow Shropshire, can produce 25,000 pints per week, around 1.3 million pints annually. Expansion will enable the brewery to potentially double its capacity to 2.6 million pints per year.

Head brewer Cody Palin, who has been leading the project, said that the new system will maximise efficiency both in terms of labour and energy. He said: “This is our top priority, as we’re trying our best to keep our prices as low as we can for customers. Expectedly we’ve had to increase our prices due to the rising cost of energy. The cost of all of our raw-ingredients has gone up 30-40 per cent in 2022.”

Despite undeniably, and unprecedented, tough trading times for breweries, and their bread-and-butter customers - publicans, 2022 was a “good year” for Ludlow Brewery, so there is cause for optimism in the year ahead.

“Fortunately we’d been planning this expansion for some time before Covid hit, so financially we were in a good position to begin the project,” said Mr Palin.

“At times in the year we struggle for capacity on the brewing side as we want to keep the product as fresh as possible, so even if the tanks were used solely for additional beer storage we’d be in no bad position.

"As we only deliver within a 50-mile radius currently (excluding wholesalers), securing the additional sales should be a smooth process with the help of our new sales role hire.

"2022 was a good year for us and we anticipate similar sales throughout this year,” he added. The team of four brewers will soon be experimenting with some lager trials, in anticipation for the big launch later in the year, as well as experimenting with some new hops under the brewery’s Derailed brand.

"Diversification aside, there will be no change to the core range of real ales, with a continued commitment to producing fine cask beers; “Ludlow Gold” being the original stalwart of the Ludlow Brewery range (first brewed in the founding year, 2006) and still its best-selling beer. The brewery’s first lager will be very true to its roots of producing classic artisan beers, with plans for a traditional German-style lager to be brewed with their signature authentic style."

Ludlow Brewery aims to boost its sustainable brewing credentials over the year ahead with the extension of its solar PV system.

The brewery came runner up in the Sustainable Business category in the national SIBA (Society of Independent Brewers) Business Awards 2022, the industry’s “Oscars”.

Currently, the brewery has 184 solar panels on the roof of its cold storage warehouse; a building which was added to the brewery in 2015 to meet rising demand.

The 55 kWp system has been pivotal in the business’s greenhouse gas reduction strategy, saving 15.75 tonnes of carbon. The brewery has recently tendered for a further expansion to install another 140 solar panels, with the aim for completion in May.

The completed 115kWp solar PV system will produce at least half of the energy required for brewing, which this month was recognised by the Government as an energy-intensive industry.

Managing Director Gary Walters said: “This investment will allow us to scale up production, brewing almost daily if we need to, and help us meet growing demand.

"It’s been a tough few years, but we’re looking forward to producing some cracking beers in 2023, and our very first lager which has been our ambition for several years. We’re delighted with the performance of our Solar PV system, which has exceeded expectations. And pleased that we can add to the system with more roof space on our recently extended cold storage warehouse.

He added: “As a business, we strive to be as kind to the planet as possible, so brewing with renewable energy is crucial. Generating our own energy to reduce dependence on energy companies is also a bonus, with crippling cost rises blighting our sector.”