How one local family made a business out of home-brew
WE'VE all had brilliant business ideas after a few pints in the pub. But for Salford's Seven Bro7hers Brewery, the seeds of their fast-growing craft beer enterprise were sown at a much earlier age, and the 'pub' was the cellar of their home in Weaste.
Explains Nathan McAvoy, one of the seven brothers who set-up the brewery, “Dad was a home-brewer. He had these 'recipes' for making very strong beer in the cellar and wash room. There was the odd mishap and explosion. You'd come down in the morning and there'd be beer all over the floor.
“That's how we got started. And growing up into our teenage years, we just carried on doing it.”
Eleven kids – no wonder he needed a drink
You can well imagine the Dad of this eleven-sibling family escaping to the cellar for some time-out with his fermenters and mash tuns. As the sons grew older, they started playing around with their own recipes and creating their own beers. But they had bigger plans than a few kegs for family gatherings.
Says Keith McAvoy: “It was being out in Oslo where the beer scene is just incredible that gave us the impetus and the idea. A few years down the line, we are where we are.”
The beer goes far but the family's sticking in Salford
The brewery is just a few miles from their childhood home, on an industrial estate in Salford Quays. It's their second premises after they rapidly outgrew their original brewery where the brothers used to fill bottles by hand.
Greg McAvoy once blitzed through 5,000 hand-filled bottles in one week. He was also responsible for building an electronic control system for the brewery's cooling cylinders which all the brothers can access from an app on their phones – and which saved them about £35,000 in costs.
It probably took us 100 home brews to get it to a point where we were happy with it to sell
In case you hadn't noticed, this is a very entrepreneurial family. Four of the brothers are now employed full-time at the brewery. And the four McAvoy sisters are also making a mark in the drinks world. They've recently set up their own business: Sis4ers Distillery, which is based in the same building as the brewery, and lists the five-star Lowry Hotel as a stockist of their premium gin.
It all began with an IPA
But back to the brothers. Their bestselling beer is their classic IPA which has a crisp, slightly citrusy taste.
Says Nathan, “It probably took us 100 home-brews to get it to a point where we were happy with it to sell. It's a style of beer most people are familiar with. I think everyone knows what they're going to get when they try an IPA.”
Another big seller is their Watermelon Wheat Beer which does a roaring trade in the summer months. A porter, a session ale, a lager and an EPA make up their current range. Their beer now gets distributed all over the country and is sold in supermarkets Booths and the Co-op.
Let's get a pint in at The Pev
Back at the beginning though, it was one of Manchester's most iconic pubs that gave them their first sale: Peveril of the Peak.
Says Nathan, “The owner there Maurice is a great guy. I get on with him a lot. That's the kind of customer we like. Someone that's really open with us. And very vocal with us and not afraid to get into dialogue and ask questions.”
Brew Back Fridays – beer, street food and live music
Nowadays if you want the full Seven Bro7hers range, your best bet is to head to the Seven Bro7hers Beer House in Ancoats, or to the brewery itself, which does tours and has its own Tap Room which is open to the public on Fridays from 2pm to 8pm and Saturdays from 12pm to 6pm.
Every last Friday of the month they put on a Brew Back event in the Tap Room with street food and live music. The next one is on Friday 29 May and features Australian beat-boxing fusion band, the Uptown Monotones. It's free in and the band starts from 5pm.
Says Keith, “We're open for everyone to come in and have a look and experience it. That's what we're all about. Bringing people in, being open, inclusive and being part of the beer community.”
Cheers to that. And to their Dad, who could never have imagined his cellar-made home-brew would have led to all this.
Get details of the next Brew Back Friday
Learn more about the Seven Bro7hers Brewery