Specialist builders, engineers and the Brewery's own team have been busy since February installing, commissioning and testing the new bottling line at the Brewery's St Austell headquarters. This week the first bottles of Tribute began to roll off - destined for shops, off licences and supermarket shelves across UK.
The bottling line represents a major investment by Cornwall's biggest brewer and has been driven by soaring demand for its award-winning ales both regionally and nationally. It comes in the same year as the Brewery was awarded the prestigious title of Regional Brewer of the Year in The Publican Awards.
Roger Ryman, St Austell Brewery Head Brewer, said: "We are absolutely thrilled at the growing level of demand for our bottled beers, which has been the driving force behind installing our own in-house bottling line. It has been a major investment for the Brewery and a technically challenging project for the team so to see the bottling line up and running on schedule is really exciting.
"It now puts us in a strong position to continue to grow our brands like Tribute and opens up the opportunity for further innovation by our Brewing team such as limited edition runs of special ales."
Sales of St Austell's flagship Tribute Ale have risen for eight consecutive years since its launch in 2001, and by an amazing 20 per cent in the past 12 months, continuing the meteoric success of the beer which has become the first and only Cornish beer to make it into the UK Top 10 of premium cask ales.
The new bottling plant supplied by Krones will allow the Brewery to meet existing and future demand regionally and nationally for its bottled ales.
The line will have initial capacity to bottle up to 100,000 bottles a week and as well as its flagship Tribute Ale it will also package the Brewery's range of award-winning bottled beers including Admiral's Ale, Proper Job IPA, HSD and Clouded Yellow.
Longer term it is hoped the new bottling line will provide a valuable facility to other South West drinks producers who currently have their produce bottled out of county.
The project has been supported by an £180,000 investment by the South West RDA (Regional Development Agency) through its Grant for Business Investment (GBI) programme and has helped secure 29 jobs, created five new jobs and brings significant environmental benefits to the Brewery's operations.
Stephen Bohane, Head of Business Development in Cornwall for the South West RDA, said: "The new bottling line is an impressive addition to St Austell Brewery's operations in Cornwall and is an example of a valuable investment which would not have taken place without the support of a grant through the GBI scheme.
"St Austell Brewery makes an important contribution to the economy of the South West and we are pleased to be able to support this investment and the economic and environmental benefits it brings."
The start of production on the bottling line represents the second major investment by St Austell Brewery in 2009 following the opening in January of the Brewery's new Cornwall Distribution Centre, at St Columb, as the regional hub for storage and distribution to the 2,000 pubs, clubs, hotels and other licensed premises supplied by the Brewery in Cornwall and West Devon.
Having its own bottling plant also brings with it environmental benefits in line with St Austell Brewery's aim to be one of the UK's greenest brewing and pub companies. It will cut thousands of road miles to third-party bottling plants and has enabled the Brewery to introduce new bottles which are 25 per cent lighter, bringing considerable energy and resource savings.
The Brewery Visitor Centre features a new viewing window allowing visitors to see the plant in action as part of St Austell's popular brewery tours.
St Austell Brewery's beers have enjoying huge success with highlights in just the last 12 months including:
- Sales of Tribute rising for the eighth successive year and Tribute's making it into the coveted top ten of the UK's premium cask ales based on sales volumes in Britain's pubs
- A national deal with Waitrose for Tribute to be sold in selected larger stores across the country - existing national listings for Tribute with Asda and Sainsbury as well as being sold across the South West in Tesco, Co-op, Spar and Thresher stores
- Admiral's Ale being voted the best packaged beer in the world at the International Beer Challenge
- Admiral's Ale securing a national listing with Sainsbury's, in addition to existing regional listings with Asda and Waitrose.
- St Austell Brewery was selected by Marks and Spencer to brew a new beer - Cornish IPA - to be sold in its stores and the ale has gone on to become the bestselling of its new range of regional beers.
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