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Croydon brewery owner aiming to sell beer to more town pubs

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WITH his father working the wine industry and later running a pub in Worcestershire, it was always likely Duncan Woodhead would follow the family tradition.

But he admits that from the age of 18, he decided that his first love in the world of alcohol was real ale – not something "basically just made from grapes".

The ensuing years have seen Duncan develop his passion for downing the odd pint of ale into learning about the brewing business, culminating in him opening his own micro-brewery in Neville Road, Croydon, six weeks ago.

He is running the new venture with his partner Victoria Barlow.

The idea of Clarence & Fredericks – named after the couple's home road in Sutton and their three-year-old son – was born when Duncan started his own home brewing set-up from his house two years ago.

It was enough to prompt him to enter the commercial market and learn the brewing ropes from Ian Burgess, who runs W J King Brewers in Horsham, the man Duncan still looks to as a mentor.

Duncan said: "The catalyst for the whole idea was the birth of Frederick. Once you have had a child you can do anything."

So the decision was made to set up the company and hunt for premises, much of which he has done in his spare time while working as a union organiser for the Association of Teachers and Lecturers.

Already from the converted industrial premises, Duncan is brewing once a week, producing around 40, 72-pint casks a week.

The mainstay of the business so far are Best Bitter and Golden Ale, although he is about to start on a new seasonal ale for Christmas, called Redcurrant Stout.

Clarence & Fredericks has been successful in getting its beers into a number of pubs in Central London as well as in Croydon and neighbouring Sutton.

Duncan said: "My ambition is to get into more pubs in Croydon and to brew at least twice a week."

Expansion will depend on establishing a reputation which is passed by word of mouth from one pub to another.

Duncan said: "My belief is that if you put out good-quality beer with sensible branding you will succeed."

But he has no notions of getting rich quick, not least because of the amount of money swallowed by the Government in VAT and beer duty.

Duncan said: "In October we turned over about £3,000 but a third of that went in VAT and duty."

On that basis, he said, it was going to take longer than for most businesses to break even or looking further ahead, make a surplus.

But he is confident the market is there and quality will out in the end.

More information about the brewery can be found by going to its website at www.cfbrewing.co.uk

Croydon brewery owner aiming to sell beer to more town pubs


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