ADAPTING to a pandemic in their first year of business was probably not what the Dearman family had in mind.

Mark and Helena Dearman set up Twisted Wheel Brew Co with their daughters Laura and Charlotte in October 2019.

Less than six months later, they had lost all their customers when the pubs closed in March – but thanks to some quick thinking and a willingness to change things up, the lockdown also came with a silver lining.

Warrington Guardian:

"The range of beers you see now is directly as a result of lockdown," said Laura, who is now company director.

"Before that we were very traditional. We had a different brewer and we only did cask beers. So obviously when pubs closed in March we had no customers.

"We had to adapt and start getting the beers in can and that’s when we decided to go for the craft beer market.

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"Then when places started to reopen we were able to get into different bars. We’ve also modernised our cask range and that’s going really well so hopefully we’re in a much stronger position going forward."

Now celebrating Twisted Wheel's first birthday, it has been a year full of changes for the new brewery.

They are currently in the process of moving from Standish to Warrington.

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It is due to circumstances as their former landlord sold their old farm-based site – but the family also see it as an opportunity and a chance to expand.

Laura added: "We had done a lot of work at the old site but then we were told the landlord had sold the premises where we were. We were the only tenant on the farm at the time and the site was sold to a dairy farmer.

"We were asked to move within six months. It was not great timing but we were starting to run out of space anyway. We found this unit in Warrington which is bigger, has more office space and is better for distribution. We’re looking at it as a positive.

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"We’re in between both premises at the moment. The new place is better and will have more going on. We’re excited but at the same time uncertain about what’s going to happen in the next few months."

Another big change is that Twisted Wheel's new head brewer is Anthony Barrett, who helped spearhead the development of Hebden Bridge-based Vocation Brewery's core range when it launched in 2015.

He was there for three years and has also worked at the likes of Salt Beer Factory in Saltaire.

Warrington Guardian:

Laura said: "He really helped them get going and develop their core range which is still being produced today. We’re delighted to have him with us now. As a result, the range of beers we do has completely changed. He produced our first seven core range Twisted Wheel beers you see in cans.

"We’re developing the beers as we go along so they’re only going to get better and part of the move to Warrington involves us bringing in a new brew kit as well. We’re always investing in better machinery and we don’t scrimp on hops so the products are all high quality. Anthony knows what he’s doing."

Favourites currently include the Mosaic-hopped Sunday Sessions and the hazy New England IPA-style, Soul City.

Warrington Guardian:

Twisted Wheel's connection with Vocation goes a little further as the team-of-seven have just bought the brewery's old kit.

"It will mean we can brew twice as much as we do now," added Laura, 25.

Their new site in Easter Court, Europa Boulevard, should be fully up-and-running by late October or early November and the plan for early 2021 is to launch a canning line.

Warrington Guardian:

Laura said: "We’ve also sold our old kit to another brewery as well so it’s now a matter of getting the logistics all right – trying to get the brew schedule to be smooth and hopefully not losing out on too much production.

"We don’t want to ramp up capacity too quickly, especially if we’re able to bring canning in-house. That will mean we can be a little more innovative. We can do smaller batch brews."

In the meantime, craft beer lovers in Warrington can drop by from today, Thursday, as the on-site shop has just opened.

Warrington Guardian:

Laura added: "We're hoping to open a takeaway service soon. People can drop in for cans and growlers (a large bottle used for take-out beer) and mini kegs and have a look around. It is not something we can do with the current situation but we’d also love to look at having a space outside opened with tables."

The Dearman family is originally from Somerset where Mark and Helena ran Cottage Brewing Company.

Laura, who used to be a financial regulator, said: "We all wanted a change of scenery and I got involved for the chance to grow a company from the beginning."

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As for Twisted Wheel's name, it comes from both Laura's parents' love of Northern Soul and a nod to the brewery's original venue.

Laura said: "They’re very much into the retro vibe and 80s music and Mod culture. That’s what my parents really enjoyed so they wanted that inspiration behind it. Also the old brewery had a very bumpy road and we’ve actually had a few people who have driven down and their wheels have broken – so there is a double meaning to the name.

"Hopefully, we won’t have anymore twisted wheels in Warrington!"

Warrington Guardian:

As for the beer itself, the team have been most influenced by Manchester's craft beer scene – naming Cloudwater, Track Brewing Co and Beatnikz Republic among their favourites – but they will continue to have that little Northern Soul twist.

Laura added: "We have a cask range called Cover Up. It goes back to a Northern Soul idea where DJs would play different records but cover up the name of the artist and the song to make it a bit elusive.

"The idea behind our ‘cover up’ is that we don’t tell people what the hops are or the style of the beer so it’s designed to get people talking and guessing what it is.

Warrington Guardian:

"We also have a new draught beer coming out called Paint It Black, a nod to the Rolling Stones with a black IPA as well as plans to brew three new canned beers over the next couple of months.

"We're thinking an IPA, a double IPA and even a mint choc chip imperial stout..."