Award-winning Black Country brewery enters liquidation with all staff laid off

An award-winning Black Country brewery is in voluntary liquidation with "crippling" energy costs a factor in in its demise.

Former director Mike Bates in Backyard Brewhouse in Brownhills
Former director Mike Bates in Backyard Brewhouse in Brownhills

Backyard Brewhouse at The Gatehouse, Lichfield Road, Brownhills, entered liquidation on Thursday, March 2 with all staff having been made redundant over preceding weeks.

The brewery had been started by director Austen Morgan and Mike Bates in 2008.

Initially they had a five brewers barrel kit making about 3,500 pints a week, but by 2020 it had grown to produce 650,000 pints a year.

Mr Morgan explained that the impact of the Covid pandemic has been tough.

"By the end of 2021 we knew we still had a viable business but would need some help to survive," he said.

"In January 2022, the business was sold in its entirety to an entrepreneurial company that were new to the brewing industry. They took the business as a going concern with the desire to drive things forward.

"For the past 12 months I have remained with the business helping the new owners become familiar with the business, the broader trade and understanding the ins and outs of a cask ale brewery.

"Sadly, the efforts of the previous 12 months have not been sufficient to get the brewery to a stable state. The hangover from Covid combined with crippling energy costs and a broader financial crisis have contributed to an unsustainable situation.

"So it is with sadness that of last Thursday the business was placed into voluntary liquidation, with all staff having been made redundant a few weeks ago.

"I would like to thank all those who have supported us over the last 15 years – suppliers and customers alike. Many of whom have become good friends of the brewery. It has been challenging at times but always immensely enjoyable."

Some of Backyard's beers included Christmas ales Bad Santa and Sanity Claus, golden ale Gold and blonde ale Blonde.

Several other Midlands breweries have closed recently or are to stop production this year.

Morton Brewery at Essington is selling off its brewing equipment as owner Gary Morton is retiring from brewing, while Slater's Brewery in Stafford announced it was closing in December and Digbeth's Dig Brew confirmed its closure in January.

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