Graeme hops to it and puts passion for beer into his new town brewery
Last updated at 13:00, Friday, 08 March 2013
Bookcases filled with beer guides, pictures of Bodingtons cans and certificates hanging on the wall from some of his prize-winning lagers – Workington’s Graeme Mitchell loves beer.
Not only is he passionate about beer but he also dreams of bringing a brewery back to Workington, two decades after the last one closed.
Graeme, 45, of Calva Brow, will soon realise that dream when he opens a lager micro brewery at his parents’ Calva Farm which will house his business Mitchell Krause Brewing.
He has owned Mitchell Krause for about four years.
His three beers are currently brewed in Cheshire and transported in bulk to Cockermouth where they are bottled or put into kegs.
Storage and distribution is managed by Grapevine Wholesale of Embleton, with sales and marketing based in Workington.
Graeme’s three lagers are a Czech Pilsner, American Pale Ale and Bavarian Hefe Weiss.
His love affair with beer began when he was growing up in Workington.
When he was about 17, he remembers, there were protests and marches against a company trying to buy the old brewery in the town.
He says: “I was proud that Workington had a brewer. It’s my first memory of beer being important.”
After growing up on the family farm, run by his mother Jilly and father Ian, he went to Newcastle University and studied agricultural and food marketing.
But, by his own admission, he got more involved in the fun aspects of university life rather than studying.
He became president of the students’ union and was tasked with organising freshers week, enlisting some of Newcastle’s breweries as sponsors.
An international marketing degree at Glasgow University followed, before Graeme got his first job in the beer industry at Whitbread, on its graduate training scheme.
He started off as a sales person in Preston and then moved to Richmond, in Yorkshire, and on to the company’s headquarters in Luton to work in marketing.
Graeme was then tasked with trying to launch Bodingtons in North America and went to live in Connecticut.
He says: “It was absolutely brilliant. To be honest it was a really easy sale.
“When you talk about beer in America most people think about Budweiser, Coors and Miller. But there is a whole host of micro breweries. They will try everything.”
He came back to the UK after two years and worked on promoting two imported lagers for Whitbread.
Jobs at Carlsberg in Northamptonshire and at a drinks consultancy in London followed, but Graeme was starting to crave a new adventure.
He says: “At this point I started to get disenchanted with the way these big companies were going.
“As you get a bit older your values change a bit. I started to not enjoy working for big companies and wanted to do work for myself and something I enjoyed again.”
In 2008 he decided to head back to his home town with his wife and two sons, Oliver, eight, and Matthew, six, and moved into a bungalow opposite the farm on Calva Brow. The farm was bought by his grandfather, Workington Town legend Tom Mitchell, in the 1940s.
From the bungalow Graeme set up Mitchell Krause Brewing, combining his surname and his mother’s maiden name, which hails from Bavaria in Germany.
He is converting an old tractor shed on Calva Farm into the brewery. A new concrete floor will be laid, a small office built and brewing equipment installed.
He plans to have a shop to sell his beers and will offer tours of the brewery.
Once brewing begins, hopefully by Easter, he plans to hire someone to help him.
He says: “A town the size of Workington should have its own brewery.
“I am proud that it had one in the 1980s and I am just over the moon that I am actually able to bring a brewery back to town.
“I hope the people of Workington and the surrounding areas will support my business. They have done so far.”
Graeme thinks his brewery will offer something different to the ones already established in Cumbria.
He says: “When I talk to most people about micro breweries they think of small real ale breweries. I didn’t want to become a real ale brewery; there are too many.
“Why do we import these beers? We have the capability to brew these styles of beer here.
“I am quite different and I really want people to understand that what I am starting up here is predominately a lager brewery with Continental styles of beer.
“I want mine to be able to stand up against any international beers.
“I want people to see my business as the future of brewing in the UK.
“Workington is a town of innovation, with the Bessemer converter and the steelworks, and when the old brewery produced lager.
“We are a forward-thinking town and we should be proud of that.”
First published at 12:28, Friday, 08 March 2013
Published by http://www.timesandstar.co.uk
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