Opening Bedford's new £14m brewery in lockdown is 'right thing to do'

By Alex Pope
BBC News Online

image captionPeter Wells said moving into Brewpoint meant the company was on a smaller scale and "can constantly change and create new beer that evolves as people want new things"

The great, great, grandson of a brewery founder says opening a £14m building during lockdown is "frustrating" but the "right thing to do".

Peter Wells, managing director of Wells & Co, said Brewpoint in Bedford was built to meet changing trends in alcohol consumption.

The company and its old brewery, formerly called Charles Wells, was sold to Marston's for £55m in 2017.

Beer was "part of our DNA", said Mr Wells.

image sourceWells & Co
image captionCharles Wells bought Horne Lane brewery in Bedford in 1876 along with 36 pubs at auction
image sourceWells & Co
image captionCharles Wells was born in Bedford in 1842

The company has moved all its 68 staff onto its Fairhill site, just off the A6, and has started brewing two brand new pale ales, Origin and On Point.

Mr Wells said it decided to sell the business, which started in the town in 1876, as it found itself "caught in the middle of the large multi-national breweries, who have a big portfolio and millions to invest, and the explosion in smaller breweries".

"We looked at the future, we don't think it is going to get any easier, so we said let's look at a different model.

"Consumer habits have changed, people are drinking less but drinking better, so they're looking for beers with a greater depth of flavour, more providence and an interesting story around them."

image sourceWells & Co
image captionCharles Wells' first brewery opened on the town's River Great Ouse in 1876 and has since been demolished
image sourceWells & Co
image captionIts second, the Eagle Brewery on Havelock Street in Queen's Park, was built in 1976 for £3.6m and sold in 2017

Mr Wells added that Covid restrictions were hampering trade, including preventing them opening their new indoor bar at Brewpoint, so they had had to set up an outdoor garden bar instead.

"It's a little bit frustrating but it's still the right thing to do - we will get a return on an investment and on the quality of the beer," he said.

"In the long term this is going to be fine.

"We were very clear that Bedford is where the story started and this is where it continues."

image sourceWells & Co
image captionBuilding work for Brewpoint, just off the A6 , started in 2019
image captionBeers will be served from the heated garden area with plans to open inside after Christmas

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