Ashley Bevans talks to Bays Brewery which has just entered it’s tenth year. This local brewery is typical of the new beer producing businesses which make up the surge, nationally, in small producers of top quality beers.
Ashley and Mark Salmon from the brewery talked recently about this expanding local business.
Ashley: Tell us about Bays Brewery and where it started?
Mark: Bays Brewery was born over a few beers on a night out in Cornwall in August 2006. Not long after this infamous night myself, my brother in law, Will Freeland, and my brother, Peter joined forces and signed a lease on an old 5000 sq ft steel fabrication unit in Paignton.
The transformation of this unit began in March 2007 and by the middle of June that year, after some considerable construction and installation works, we were running our first brew through our new 20 barrel brew plant. Our first two brews, Best and Gold, were successfully launched into local pubs simultaneously in the first week of July.
With Will’s experience as the head brewer at Skinners Brewery in Truro for ten years, we were very quickly able to establish a brewing regime producing consistently great beer with an ever growing client base.
Our team expanded very quickly and it wasn’t long before we started winning a few business awards as well as awards for our beers giving us a great platform to expand the business over the coming years.
Ashley: Out of all of the brews you have ever made, what’s your favourite and why? Mark: Craft Lager, Devon Rock, really takes some beating! Our industry is changing and keg beer is starting to take a hold which is the reason we have launched this product. Consumer demand is proving people want more flavour in their pint than what the vast array of continental lagers currently offer.
Ashley: Your toughest moment?
Mark: I don’t recall there ever being a really tough moment as such although there have been times when business has been challenging! We did experience a problem with our yeast in the early days which meant a few 24 hour shifts to solve it, but other than that we have had quite a straightforward journey.
Ashley: Your proudest moment?
Mark: Other than seeing my three daughters entering the world, I do feel proud when I visit our outlets and see customers ordering, drinking and enjoying a well conditioned pint of Bays! An enormous amount of effort goes into ensuring that each pint is immaculately produced and I always feel proud of the whole team at Bays who are responsible for making it all happen.
Ashley: What’s the best bit of feedback you’ve ever had?
Mark: To set up Bays Brewery from scratch was a real challenge and so after the first year of producing beer and creating a strong brand we entered and won an award through the FSB. The feedback we received from the judges that we were the clear winner for the overall
business of the year award was completely unexpected which is what made the award so much more exciting and special for us. The £1200 prize money was a bonus too!
Ashley: What do you love most about your job?
Mark: I am fortunate that I am involved in a few different companies as well as the Torbay Business Forum, so I have a varied working day with complete flexibility which enables me to focus on areas that need the most attention. The most important thing is the team around me. Between both my businesses, Bays Brewery and SSG Training and Consultancy, we employ about 60 team members and without exception, every team member is critical to the success of the businesses. I love watching team members flourish and progress in both businesses and I encourage this by giving as much autonomy as possible to enable them to develop as individuals.
Ashley: What are your favourite places to eat and drink in Devon?
Mark: I don’t really have a favourite place – Bays is fortunate to supply to a number of superb outlets across the South West and further afield and as long as I am in great company with family or friends and good beer (Bays, of course) I am happy!
Ashley: What dish best compliments your ales?
Mark: For me it is quite simply a medium rare fillet steak with chips and a good pint of Bays Gold! Although Will, our Head Brewer, insists that Bays Gold goes best with fish!
Ashley: Your advice to anyone venturing into the food and drink sector?
Mark: When we started I was so engaged with setting up the brewery and the business that I didn’t really think too much about the actual products we were going to produce. Fortunately our Head Brewer, Will, had all this in hand and our first product was a huge success but we were lucky here! So my advice is to of course get the business elements right but product quality is key in ensuring a sustainable food or drink business.
Ashley: Thank you very much, Mark. I wish you continued success and enjoyment in Bays Brewery, and I hope your experience will inspire others to pursue their ideas.
To discover more about Bays Brewery please visit: www.baysbrewery.co.uk.