Batemans celebrates a milestone year

GOOD HONEST TALES– 150 YEARS OF BATEMANS BREWERY

To mark the anniversary year, a new history of the company has been written by Adam Cartwright. See our review on page 97 of the March 2024 issue.


Words by:
Caroline Bingham
Featured in:
March 2024

Batemans has been an independent family business since its foundation by George Bateman alongside the River Steeping in Wainfleet in 1874. Through both good and challenging times, the continuity of family leadership has steered Batemans from small beginnings to today’s ownership of 51 public houses and national recognition of their ‘Good Honest Ales’.

Next generation
Stuart joined the brewery in 1987 after studying business at St Paul’s College, Cheltenham and completing a three-year Brewing and Business Foundation course at Mansfield Brewery. He took over as managing director from his father, George, in 2002, supported then and now by his sister Jaclyn.

“We have the fifth generation gaining skills which we hope they will bring to the business in the future”, said Stuart. “My wife Rachael and I have three children – Harri has trained at three breweries and is Production Brewer at Beavertown Brewery; Edward began his training with John Willie Lees in Manchester and is now based with Robinsons Brewery at Stockport; while Eliza is working in hospitality in Australia. That is one of the great things about this industry, that fellow breweries are open, as we are, to sharing skills and enthusing the next generation of brewers.”

Back to normal
Stuart said that the business had returned to normal in 2021 following the challenges of the pandemic. “It was the most stressful of times but one of the first actions for us was cancelling all the pub rents. Many in the industry thought us unwise but without our network of viable public houses, the brewery would have no future, so this was a priority for us along with mothballing the brewery plant.” Coming out of lockdowns, Stuart launched an ale called Revival and started to re-invest and refurbish pubs.

Re-brand
With such a rich history and so many people involved with the business, Stuart, Jaclyn and family sat down a year ago to collect thoughts on how they would like to see the 2024 celebrations unfold. The first task for him and Jaclyn was the re-branding of the Batemans logo, with contemporary styling to fonts and colourways but retaining the heritage of their slogan, ‘Craft Brewers Since 1874’. The strong branding includes a refreshed version of the iconic windmill which sits in the heart of their Wainfleet site.

Supporting the ethos of ‘Tradition with Ambition’, customers can see the new styling on pump clips, bottle labels, and signage. The website has also been relaunched.

“I wanted to make sure that all of our 78 staff were involved with the anniversary celebrations, so the year was launched at the Brewery Christmas Party on 6th January. Our party is always in the New Year as we are too busy before Christmas, but the timing was perfect to outline events and to present Long Service Awards. Our staff have more than 1,000 years of service with Batemans. Martin Prime, who maintains and repairs our brewing equipment, has 47 years’ service, his brother Tim has 32 years and two of our brewers, Joey Leaman and Carl Leverton, have 75 years’ experience between them. This commitment and continuity is invaluable to us.”

Anniversary ales and lunches
Stuart’s other objectives last year included creating a new beer to mark the anniversary. 5G, a 4.2% ABV Session IPA (named with a nod to the fifth generation in the wings and 21st-century internet) was launched and will be available on tap alongside current bestsellers Yella Belly Gold, Triple XB (XXXB) and XB.

Under the company’s wine distribution brand, JE Ridlington, a specially boxed 5 Generations Blanquette de Limoux champenoise method wine is available. While, exclusively for staff and customers in recognition of their contribution to the success of the company, a 7.8% ABV strong vintage ale was brewed 12 years ago and has been maturing in bottle since then and will be presented in special boxes to customers as part of the celebrations.

All of Batemans’ public house Business Owners are invited to a celebration lunch in April. This will be followed by a lunch for brewery industry colleagues who will attend from across the country on 23rd April (St George’s Day) for a Lincolnshire themed menu including stuffed chine, sausage, mash and peas, cheeses and plum bread and a special Beer Tiramisu dessert. The main speaker will be Kriss Akabusi, the former GB athlete. Stuart has forged a long association with Kriss after he overheard him complementing Batemans beers at an event many years ago.

The staff Summer Party, where each member will be presented with a specially commissioned 150th anniversary plate, will include a hog roast. There will also be a Summer Party for CAMRA and Batemans Beer Club members.

Join the celebrations
Customers of Batemans will find plenty of ways in which they can join the celebrations. “There will be a series of customer parties with entertainment by Dr Busker, a lively group of musicians influenced by music hall shows,” continued Stuart. “Developing the theme of 150, there will be a Pro/Am Celebrity Darts Tournament held in our darts playing pubs. The winners will play Peter (One Dart) Manley at the brewery.

If darts players can score 150 in three darts at their Batemans local, we will send them a free case of beer (capped at 150 cases for the promotion). Some of our pubs will also be selling pints of 5G at £1.50 on 29th May (150th day of the year).”

The Bands on the Bank music festival, organised by Jaclyn, features mostly local acts and will be held on 10th August on the brewery site. Tickets are now on sale on the website, with a limited number of tickets discounted to £1.50.

Additionally, for a period during 2024, there is a Golden Ticket promotion where certain barrels and cases will carry a winning ticket for the price to be refunded.

“We are also commissioning a big public house refurbishment this year, The Bell Hotel at Burgh le Marsh. The year will end with the Skegness Silver Band performing at our Beer and Carols event at the Visitor Centre.”

Trends and tastes
Predicting the changing tastes of drinkers has been a common challenge for all the generations of the Bateman family.

“During the wars the government controlled the amount of raw materials that brewers could access, so lower % ABV beers were produced to get more from less. You could get a licence to brew more beer if you were contributing to the war effort,” Stuart explained. “My grandfather had contracts to supply Scunthorpe Working Mens’ Clubs, where steel workers drank, as beer was seen as a way of retaining their motivation.”

The trend towards lighter coloured, hoppier beers has seen breweries learn from the wide varieties of grapes accessible to the wine industry. Breweries use a wider variety of hops, some from Kent and Hereford particularly, but also hops imported from around the world. American hops such as Cascade and Chinook have a citrus flavour popular in IPAs.

“There has been a recent growth in the popularity once more of darker beers and many breweries are collaborating. We are working with the Blue Monkey Brewery in Nottingham, Charnwood Brewery in Loughborough and Buxton Brewery, swapping brewers for periods.

“This helps us stay ahead for the discerning market, who are looking for quality rather than quantity of which ale they choose to drink.”

Stuart and Jaclyn have a busy year ahead but Stuart summed up his sense of appreciation. “To be an owner operative of Batemans is a privilege. I tell people that I get to meet and work with great people; I visit many pubs and develop new products. For me, it’s true, that if you love your job, you never do a day’s work in your life.”

Batemans Brewery and Visitor Centre, Salem Bridge Brewery, Mill Lane, Wainfleet All Saints, Skegness, PE24 4JE, www.bateman.co.uk



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