BIG HAND CELEBRATES 10TH ANNIVERSARY
Updated: Jul 14
With many small brewers badly beleaguered by the shadow of Covid 19, plus staggering rises in energy bills and raw materials combined with the current squeeze on the consumer, it is sincerely heart uplifting to celebrate with those who are not only still standing but going positively forward.
Give a very, very big hand of congratulations to:
The Big Hand Brewing Company marked its 10th birthday with a lovely bash at the 10bbl plant.
An evening of sunshine, fine beer and alfresco dining with friends brought a splendid whiff of the Costas to the Wrexham Industrial Estate, however briefly. What a night!
Ten years ago, as co-editor of the now defunct New Imbiber magazine, I wrote about the then fledgling brewery taking its first baby steps to flight in this hidden corner of north-east Wales
Former engineer Dave Shaw had left the comfort of his career role with Network Rail to strike out into brewing with his teacher nephew Andy Benson. When I spoke with Dave back then he confessed his family and friends were just a teenie-weenie bit surprised. Not least his wife Carole. He was an accomplished cook - she thought he might take up making sauces!
But Dave was serious and went on a Brewlab course in Sunderland to hone his brewing skills, before he and Andy put together the ex- Weetwood Brewery plant in a freezing cold industrial unit in the bleak winter of 2012-13. So Big Hand was born, with the moniker taken from Dave’s rather substantial mitts; a big bloke. They went on to win awards - to start with five in three years from SIBA - and a reputation for top quality and consistent beers.
Andy left the business in early 2021 and Dave, extremely sadly, passed away after a short illness later last year. However, it was far from the end. Today Big Hand carries on in Carole’s somewhat rather more diminutive but very capable hands, assisted by beer loving businessman director John Smith and a small, dedicated team: Adam Bearcroft - head brewer, Josh Shearman - assistant brewer, Craig Harper - business development, Sam Waters - sales & marketing admin, Finlay Read - brewery assistant, and Fiona Fraser Bell - director & marketing support.
Across the years Big Hand brands have become very well known and trusted around North Wales and Cheshire; from the delightfully traditional Bastion Best Bitter (4.2%abv) to the easy drinking Solaris (3.9%abv) pale ale, the punchy Appaloosa (4.5%abv), an American Pale Ale and the glorious Welsh dry stout Spectre(4.%abv), dark oatmeal stout. Super Tidy IPA (4%abv), a British style session IPA with soft lemon and floral notes is one of our easy drinking favourites – a life saver when Dave used to deliver his mini kegs during the Covid lockdown. Recently a very impressive rich fruit and spicy Burton style ale has been brewed for the bottle- Gridlock at a pokey 7.3% strength; produced as a one off, it has gone so well it may well return.
Now Big Hand is gearing up for further growth, planning to extend its reach with more bottling, keg, and a canned range while brewer Adam also works on pushing out with new beers, some using the new British variety of US hops being developed by Charles Faram in Herefordshire. Pili Pala – ‘Welsh Butterfly’- a beautifully light fruity and balanced pale ale - first trialled by Dave - is one to snatch up soon.
When Dave and Andy started out their basic tenets were ‘beer should make you smile’ and ‘ be drunk with friends’. Well yes, that worked very well. Last Friday evening was true testimony to that aspiration. We hope and trust that the legacy will run for another 10 years and much more. Happy 10th Birthday to Big Hand and good luck to Carole and the crew for the future.