Thousands of pints sold of local brew

NEAABE111012d1, Blue monkey brewery, giltbrook. John Hickling checking the fermenting beer.
NEAABE111012d1, Blue monkey brewery, giltbrook. John Hickling checking the fermenting beer.
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AS Blue Monkey Brewery celebrates its fourth anniversary, the highly-successful beer firm showed off its products at the Nottingham Beer Festival last weekend.

And company director John Hickling said his beers went down a storm with punters – with over 3,600 pints sold to satisfied customers over the weekend.

NEAABE111012d2, Blue monkey brewery, giltbrook. One of the brewers Simon King pitching the yeast.

NEAABE111012d2, Blue monkey brewery, giltbrook. One of the brewers Simon King pitching the yeast.

The festival – the biggest of its kind in the world – features breweries from across the UK and two years ago, when Blue Monkey was just one-year-old, John picked up the Champion Beer of the festival award for his beer Guerilla.

Sadly this year they did not scoop any awards, but John still said it was a roaring success.

“It was really great, we sold a massive amount of beer. The festival was heaving,” he said.

“This year wasn’t our year for awards, unfortunately.

“I think sometimes it depends on who is on the judging panel. We make quite hoppy beers and the beers that won this year were not very similar to ours.”

Blue Monkey started life in a tiny unit in Ilkeston, but out-grew it within a year and moved to Giltway Industrial Estate in Giltbrook.

John said he now needs to decide whether to move again and expand the business even further, or stay where he is.

“We spent a lot of money setting this up because the other one was too small and now it looks like we are outgrowing this.

“In a year’s time we’ll have a big decision to make. Do we stay this size or spend the money and move somewhere else to allow it to grow?” he said.

Branching out from just selling to pubs, John is opening up a shop in Giltbrook next month, selling directly to customers from his warehouse. On top of that, he has also just opened up his first pub in Nottingham – The Organ Grinder – with plans to open up several more.

But he never anticipated his new little venture would become such an enormous success.

“It’s become a monster really,” he said. “I wanted a small operation for an easy life, but it took on a life of its own. I never had the intention of it growing this size.”

“It’s pulled me along, but now I’ve got in the swing of it I want to see where it goes.”

John put the success of the brewery down to a ‘booming’ real ale industry, and said his beers appeal to the younger generation.

The ambitious 37-year-old launched the business after spending years in an IT job that he found boring and unfullfilling.

“I was sick of working in a corporate environment and I hated being a cog in a massive machine,” he said.

“I wanted something I could take pride in.”

The beers sold by the brewery are Original, BG Sips, 99 Red Baboons, Evolution, Ape Ale and of course the award-winning Guerrilla. They also put on at least one special per month, and brought one called Infinity back for the festival.