As part of our regular Meet The Brewer Sessions, we catch up with the creators of some of our favourite beers.
This week, we find out about Bury based brewers, Brightside - whose Helles Lager and Wildside Tropical Fruit Crush feature in our Manchester Box.
We spoke to Carley Friedrich who tells us about the brewery’s bakery beginnings, the importance of versitility, and looking on the bright side during lockdown…
Who are you?
Carley: Chief story teller, beer seller and solution finder! I'm one of the family that set the brewery up, and part of our small but perfectly formed team of 7. As is the case in many small independent businesses, roles aren't set in stone so I end up wearing lots of hats! The only thing I don't get directly involved in is the actual brewing-related work.
Tell us about Brightside.
We started brewing back in 2010 in the back of our family bakery in Walshaw, Bury. We brewed for about a year before selling anything into trade, learning everything we could about the process and the beers our process created. Our first brew day took about 14 hours on a kit that could produce 10 casks; it was an incredibly arduous journey! In 2013 we moved out of the bakery into the industrial unit in Radcliffe which is where we are based today. These days, a brew day usually takes about 6/7 hours and we can produce the equivalent of up to 80 casks at a time.
How have you found lockdown?
On March 20th 2020 about 98% of our customers stopped trading overnight which was a massive kick in the gut given how well the business was progressing up until then. With a business & jobs to protect, plus a cellar full of beer we didn't want to sit out the lockdown and risk serious harm to the business, so we set up a brewery shop within a couple of weeks manned by myself and my brother, followed by an e-commerce site shortly afterwards. Wholesale trade barely recovered once we were out of full lockdown due to the many restrictions placed on the hospitality trade, but we did at least have some beer going out the door. Now in lockdown 2 we're again entirely reliant on our own retail and loyal trade/wholesale bottle & can customers. It's a difficult time, but we have a strong established business so consider ourselves as one of the very lucky few in that respect.
Tell us a bit more about Helles Lager and Wildside Tropical Fruit Crush?
Our Wildside beers are always one-off brews; once they're gone they're gone! They can be made with unusual yeasts or more frequently have flavours or unusual ingredients added: These could be for example organic citrus oils, natural flavours, spices or interesting flavourings. We have a fantastic supplier in France that we use for the majority of our flavours - their catalogue is very impressive and always high quality. This particular beer was created at the start of lockdown, designed to be enjoyed in the sunshine in the garden. Now that the weather has turned, its tropical flavours are a nice reminder of summer holidays and sunny beaches!
Helles Lager is a beer that we created when we realised there weren't many locally brewed lagers. We also had a prospective customer who was looking for a locally brewed lager for their restaurant, so we worked closely with them to create it. The Helles is a classic European lager made with noble hops and is carefully crafted so that you get a pure flavour for a relaxed drinking experience. It's a good antidote to the massive hoppy styles around these days, and a great beer to enjoy with food as it won't interfere with the flavours.
Any plans for the future?
Survival!! We're basically treading water through the pandemic as it's very difficult to make plans when the carpet keeps getting pulled out from beneath our feet. For the next 12 to 18 months we'll be working on recovering our trade customers and replacing those that sadly don't re-open. It's not entirely gloomy though; the pandemic has forced creativity and taken us in new directions, so we're brewing stronger craft beer styles that we never had the market for previously and are moving these into 440ml cans which is a new format for us. There's a lot more coming from this side of the business in the coming months.
You can keep up to date with Brightside by following them online and on social media: