WORKING with your family and diversification are key to survival in the competitive world of brewing says Barrie Roberts, founder and co-owner of Ennerdale Brewery.

Cumbria is awash with breweries and distilleries, producing some of the finest tasting beers, the UK has to offer. However, it’s vastly competitive and while new businesses are launching regularly, others are closing at a similar rate.

So, what is the key to survival in today’s climate?

Barrie Roberts founded Ennerdale Brewery in 2010 but it was not until 2013/14 that the business started to see growth. He credits this to it becoming a family run business with himself, his wife, two daughters and son-in-law at the helm.

“For a business such as ours to thrive it has to be run by people who are all working for the same principle.

"Turnover of staff in our industry is huge so to have a core team that are prepared to put in the hours is vital to survival.

"Management is hard but we all get immense job satisfaction and while the market is crowded and competition is fierce, I believe that those who are prepared to work hard for it will reap the rewards.”

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As its conception Ennerdale Brewery was about producing the best possible ales, however, when Barrie’s wife joined diversification began. “In the relatively early years my wife decided she wanted to open a restaurant. By this point we had relocated to our current premises at Rowrah.

"A restaurant was never in the plans but it slowly gained in popularity and after hiring a manager and professional chef it really took off.

"The catering element of the business saw us through Covid as we were able to offer takeaway meals and afternoon teas, while selling the drinks in the style of an off-licence.”

Today the brewery employs 24 staff.  Barrie believes that this would not be the case if it wasn’t for the diversification. “If I were to start from scratch again, I would most certainly launch a restaurant first. The restaurant brings a more reliable and consistent source of income. We also offer tours.

"It’s not especially financially rewarding but it helps us to raise awareness and is a nice addition to our overall visitor experience.”

The future of businesses such as Ennerdale Brewery remains uncertain but Barrie believes that keeping up with modern trends and keeping costs low are key.

The brewery recently installed 176 solar panels to help manage ever increasing energy costs. This, marketing and the sale of beers online have created an additional revenue source and ensured that there are no unexpected bills.

Ennerdale also maintains an ever-changing range of beers.  Barrie said: “Brewing businesses need to keep evolving and re-thinking the puzzle. We will continue to maintain consistency, quality and staffing levels so that Ennerdale Brewery can continue long into the future."

Ennerdale Brewery sells its cask and keg ales throughout Cumbria at various pubs and restaurants, while their bottled beers are available across the UK.