My ladies’ beer group, Brum Beer Babs, have been invited to brew at Twisted Barrel in January with beer sommelier and writer Melissa Cole so to start the planning process I popped over to Coventry to talk to owner/head brewer Ritchie Bosworth. Whilst I was there I took the opportunity of talking to him, his wife, director, Jen and brewer Carl Marshall about the new, expanded, tap room and brewery.
The original brewery and tap room opened at Fargo Village in June 2015 with a brewing capacity of 6BL and 3 fermentation vessels. It soon became a very popular destination with the taproom being filled to capacity on many weekends and evenings. Jen told me they seriously started to think about moving in the spring of 2016 driven by a need to expand the brewery size and increase the storage space. Not wanting to leave Fargo they found a furniture shop that had its lease up in July 2016. The owner, however, did not decide that they wanted to vacate it until the autumn and in the meantime had split the unit into 2. It was at that point that the planning and raising funds began.
Early in 2017 they applied to Funding Circle, having decided against the crowdfunding route favoured by some other breweries. However their application was not successful so it was back to the drawing board. They then heard of the Coventry and Warwickshire Reinvestment Trust who are a non-profit organisation that support businesses in the area. They submitted their business plan, attended interviews and finally found out that they had been successful in securing the maximum amount of funding. It was all systems go for the move! Jen told me that when she got the call and told Ritchie it was “the happiest moment of this year”.
Work began to totally gut and refit the old furniture shop as a working brewery and vastly expanded tap room. They certainly had their work cut out with a floor space 4 times the size of the old unit and the capacity to hold three times as many people. Of course all this work had to go on hand in hand with brewing and running the tap room in the old unit.
The doors of the new, 24 tap, tap room opened on the 13th October with the new fermentation vessels (they now have a total of 5 including one double size) arriving on 17th and the existing brewing kit moving from the old unit on the 18th. Ritchie told me they’ve brewed 9 beers in 3 weeks with their core stout ‘God’s Twisted Sister’ being the first. “It’s weird to be brewing so prolifically” he said.
We moved on to talk about the plans for the brewery including their new can range (canned on site by Them That Can) which should be launched later this month. Ritchie told me that all of the 9 beers brewed so far have either gone into cask or can. This is another benefit of the new unit in that they now have space for a cask washer and will move to use ecask for many beers going forward as in the past they have not been able to keep up with the demand for cask. They will still do keg but as Ritchie says “some beers suit cask and we’ll take advantage of that. Some taste better in cask so let’s not ignore that and get them in casks”. With the move to cans I asked Ritchie if they planned to move away from bottling. He told me that in the past this has all been done by hand and that not all their beers are suited to bottles “it’s a case of what is the best way to showcase the beers”. In general if it works well on keg then it’s going to work well in a can. The core range going into 440 ml cans (since we agreed 330ml is not enough and 500ml is too much!) are those beers which are both sessionable and sell well – Great Went, Sine Qua Non, Detroit Sour City and Naido. These will be joined by monthly specials of a new NEIPA – with each one having a different dominant hop. Bottles will still figure in the range but it could be as larger ‘special editions’ with more focus on Belgian styles.
Whilst enjoying a delicious Naido from the bar we talked about what the coming months have in store. Once their licence comes through they plan to have live music in the bar along with quizzes, speakers, film & TV nights. The bar itself will champion up and coming breweries with a definite focus on local stars “we’re not about the latest Cloudwater beer, are you a new brewer then we want you on the bar, that’s what excites me” Ritchie explained.
Another new feature will be the kitchen takeovers the first being this Sunday (19th) by Vegan Grindhouse. These pop ups will continue for one day once a month, of course with all food being vegan. I also found out that there are plans for ‘break even’ nights, bottle shares and brewery showcases for up and coming brewers.
Not content with their new tap room and brewery I also got the scoop that on 28th July next year they will host their first vegan beer fest in conjunction with Fat Gay Vegan. The event will take place in the Boxx at Fargo Village and consist of 24 lines of vegan beer along with some top vegan food to soak up the beer!
There was a lovely friendly, chilled atmosphere in the bar during my visit with a great mix of young and old, families and couples and even a dog or two. I’d like to thank Ritchie, Jen and Carl for the great chat and wish them all the very best in this new location. I’d also encourage people to go and seek out this great local gem that is not only boosting Fargo Village but the whole of Coventry. I am looking forward to our brew day even more now!