A New Look for Summer Wine Brewery
When I think of Summer Wine Brewery, I think of my early meets – way back when – with James Farran and Andy Baker; listening to the duo as they rhapsodised about brewing, cars, biking, philosophy, films, music…anything, in fact. When they get going, they don’t stop. Summer Wine’s beer is an extension of that; singularly produced, as they want to, how they want to.
For example, ramping up production to levels that, by rights, should have ground their tiny brewery into the ground. It’s only recently that all that hard work seems to have pushed the boys from Holmfirth to the level that they should be at. I’ve been tracking them since day one, and I’ve noticed the change. A more balanced core range. Session-strength pale ales like Pacer appearing – ones that may dial down the IBU’s and alcohol but not the bones of Summer Wine on which all of that hangs. Adding to the brewing staff. Setting up export deals to mainland Europe and beyond. Experiments with cask-ageing. All happening without fanfare; in short, a quiet revolution in the hills of Holmfirth.
They say every cloud has a silver lining. Last year, Head Brewer James Farran suffered a pretty bad fall whilst mountain biking. Actually that’s an understatement. It was nasty. Bones had to be broken and re-set, titanium-plated cheekbone kind of nasty. And – in typical style – once he was able, James used the downtime to overhaul Summer Wine’s image; unchanged since 2009.
‘… It gave me time away from the brewery, and a chance to gain perspective on the brand & other things. So the brand was born at home in the peace & quiet on my Mac.’ says James, who – you might be surprised to learn – is the man responsible for the brewery’s new look.
‘The old brand was eye-catching, contemporary & got us noticed in the early days. But we’ve now settled into our own skin and the way we do things. We’re really happy with the beers we’re brewing & very confident in our wares – and we’ve matured as a brewery. We’ve left our adolescent phase behind & this is the older, more sophisticated, fun Summer Wine.’ he adds.
I completely agree. Summer Wine’s previous livery was bold, it was eye-catching – in colour and shape. But the new artwork manages to retain that bold, primary-colour feel and shake in a little hod-rod Americana, a touch of Coop, and a pinch of comic-book art. Of all the recent re-brands that many, many breweries are undergoing as they surf the wave of new markets opening before them, I have to say that this is one of my favourites.
‘The idea for the design was to create a distinctive, fun and – most importantly – an engaging look.’ James says. ‘You’ll also notice the amount of information on the bottles is a stark departure from our old labels. This level of information including malts, hops, yeast (are in the beer) tell a story of the beer and give the consumer some ‘ownership’ over what they are paying good money for. We have included IBU’s and EBC’s so people can make an educated choice when they select the beer. Being upfront about everything in the beer is an extension of our confidence as a brewery.’
And that’s important for a brewery now exporting to 15 countries on a regular basis. The labels will be appearing on bottles as we speak, and should filter through to pumpclips and other branding the year progresses. It’s great to hear that James is back at work and brewing like mad – it’s going to be a busy summer.