A MUCH-loved independent brewery has closed for good leaving fans “desperate for another sip of the best ale in Britain”.
Fownes Brewing Company, which was started by brothers James and Tom Fownes, has called last orders after 11 years.
The brothers started brewing their beers at the back of The Jolly Crispin pub in the village of Upper Gornal in the West Midlands in 2012.
They expanded in October 2019 and moved into new premises in Brierley Hill.
James and Tom had high hopes to grow their brewing capacity and make their beers a fixture across the Midlands.
To help with the brewing they took on a brewery assistant and they opened their first pub, The Old Royal Oak in Burton upon Trent in March 2020.
“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 Independent 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”.
It’s not entirely the end of the line though for Fownes ales as Tim Hibbert, the brewery assistant they took on, will now be brewing the ales for FOWND Brewing Company in Kidderminster.
The Facebook posted added: “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.”
Fans of the award-winning ales were gutted to hear the news.
One wrote: “Really sorry to hear this boys! Been a big fan of all of your brews from day one.
“Firebeard and Korvak’s Saga in particular are two of my favourite beers to date and the yardstick against which I measure most dark ales! I wish you both all the best in whichever direction you take from here!”
Another echoed that, adding: “Gutted. The best ale in the country. All the best to you.”
While a third said: “Sorry to hear that guys, thanks for all the wonderful beer I have tried during your brewing.”
A fourth chipped in with: “This is devastating news to hear, and I am so sad for you all.
“You created something exceptional, and I’m sad too that I won’t get another taste.
“Be not discouraged though – this was a glorious chapter in an epic journey that is not over.
“You will go on to do more wonderful things I have no doubt. For now thank you, you bought me great happiness!”
The news comes after a drinks giant closed a brewing site on iconic beer mile permanently.
Earlier this month, another brewery launched a “tear down” sale following its closure – flogging everything from freezers to TV’s.
Last month, a string of local pubs announced they are set to shut their doors after spiralling costs made business impossible.
It came just weeks after another major brewery called its last orders on one of its most famous sites – putting skilled jobs at risk.