Margate brewery gears up for official launch

Katie and Jonny Spanjar

It has been some two years in preparation but a Margate brewery is now getting ready for its official launch.

Jonny and Katie Spanjar have been running Northdown Brewery on a small scale for more than 18 months but the couple moved operations to Westwood Industrial Park on May 1 and are working towards a launch in mid-July.

After some time-consuming hitches the couple finally sold their East London bar late last year and have ploughed the proceeds into the new business with the aim of eventually growing large enough to take on staff and apprentices.

The equipment and casks are up and running and although the unit, off Channel Road, needs some final touches the beer is already brewing.

Jonny, 37, said: “We were in the pub trade when I started amateur brewing with the East London Company. I’d enjoyed making it at home and could see the way the market was going. The idea of the brewery came from having the chance to make a product from start to finish. The customers could try it and let you know what they did, and didn’t, like.”

Fed up of the expense, pollution and hectic life in London the couple opted for a move with their two boys to the Kent coast two years ago.

Jonny said: “We’d been coming here for about five years and I’d been to Bemboms as a kid. We looked at Deal, Whitstable, Broadstairs and Ramsgate but it was Margate that really got us.”

And turning their experience in the hospitality trade, mixed with the brewing, seemed the ideal business venture.

Katie, 45, said: “We could see that although there were lots of pubs, and people in Thanet really like their beer, there weren’t many breweries. It made business sense to move here.

“Now we want to get the place ship shape and get in all our stock so we can have a launch. We want people to be able to come and have a look around and be able to sample the beer.”

The couple raised the final bit of funding for the venture through a kickstarter scheme created last December.

Some 136 backers pledged £12,836.

Northdown Brewery is currently producing two casked beers, the hoppy He-Bru IPA and the Ple Ale Mary. The pair also have recipes for Muggy Porter and Papworth Victory Best Bitter.

The new ales and brewery are also a tip to isle history as King Charles II and Samuel Pepys both referenced a 17th century brewery in Margate which produced Northdown Ale.

An event to celebrate the first batch of Pale Ale Mary was held at The Lifeboat micropub in Margate earlier this month, with landlord Julian Newick even getting in live music and nibbles to make it a proper isle party.

And there are more recipes on the horizon. Jonny said: “I have another four recipes and am looking to launch something new soon.

“We are producing casks at the moment but are looking to also do kegs, cans and bottles. We supply pubs, restaurants and micropubs in Thanet, Whitstable and London but want to cover an even wider area and also supply off licences and festivals.

“When we get up and running we want to be able to give local people jobs and run an apprenticeship brewer scheme. It’s great to be creative and be able to give something back to the community. Everyone here has been really supportive.”

Find out more about the Northdown Brewery on the facebook page here