Brewing is how we express ourselves, and here at S43 Brewery we aim to bring only the best to your table. Every drop we produce tries to challenge what we think we know about beer, and we always strive to deliver with quality, flavour, individuality and a little personality. Whether wax dipping our newest barrel aged stouts, or developing our can designs to not only stand out on the shelf but poke you right in the eye, we’re excited to see how we can take our brewery to the next level and continue to evolve.
Lockdown ended and with a new lease of life we went from strength to strength. We not only brought back our cask and keg offerings, but developed a craft-cask amalgamation that was very well received with pubs re-opening. We also started collaborating with others, which was ( and still is, ) fantastic! We’ve now had the pleasure of collaborating with the likes of Brew York, Full Circle, Play Brew, Rivington, Drop Project, Phantom, Robbie Knox and Mike Miller from Bin Day Brewing, and have a boat load of exciting stuff in the pipeline.
So turns out, that when you can’t leave the house, work, or see anyone, buying beer from the internet is a fairly romantic affair. We had two problems; we couldn’t physically produce enough beer, and our website server couldn’t handle what was going on. We had 12,199 people try and visit our little fresh-faced website in one day, and for a small Brewery that had only started selling online, that was absolutely incredible. The cask side of things was none existent, but our craft selection went through the roof. We took the internet by storm, and it was awesome.
The ol’ Rona hit us all hard. As a Brewery we went from selling our range of craft and keg to pubs and bottle shops across the United Kingdom, to… Nothing, overnight. It was time to do some big brain thinking and do it quickly. We immediately set to work building and setting up a whole new website with proper eCommerce integration. Being able to do this all in house meant that we could act quickly. Once that was set up, we did what we knew how to do best; and brewed some damn good beer.
After branching out into the world of craft and introducing 440ml canned ranges into our repertoire, we started to see a shift in the beer world. The new craft scene that we’d now bulldozed through felt modern, new-age, and funky. We took the opportunity to experiment with new designs, naming conventions, and tried to diversify the Brewery’s creations beyond English-style ales. Sonnet 43 felt almost too traditional for what we’d evolved into, and whilst we love our roots and look back on them with nothing but fondness, it was time to get a new haircut and hang with the cool kids. Cue a totally different logo, as always, for the love of beer. Mark felt that “This new range has given us a renewed vigour and real spark of creativity in our new hop-forward batches.” He wasn’t wrong.
Another two years of brewing our beloved Cask Ales, and we started to notice a change in our palettes. Cask specials were still heading out at a rate of knots, but we were checking out what our neighbours over the pond were doing with their hop forward goodness, and quite fancied some of that flavour in our lives. That’s when we got in touch with Alex Rattray, our now beloved Texan Yeast Wrangler ( official job title, ) to come and develop the craft arm of the brewery and take some really, really cheesy promo photos.
It was undeniable that we had now found our feet and were really starting to stand out from the crowd. It was time for us to take our visual identity to the next step. Mark Hird said in an interview with Bar Magazine “A lot has changed in the craft world since Sonnet 43 launched in 2012. Now, with an established reputation and some awards under our belt, it felt like the right time to make a few tweaks and really show how much we’ve progressed as a brewer. While we have made a number of subtle enhancements to the beers themselves, the big difference now is in the overall branding, which we hope will help Sonnet 43 stand out even further from the crowd.”
Three years into our brewing journey, in 2015 we had doubled production year on year and expanded both our team, and our range of ales. Head brewer Michael Harker had ensured that The Raven and Aurora were not only award winning, but firm favourites around the cask scene.
Quickly finding our feet, we perfected our core range with Steam Beer, India Pale Ale, Brown Ale, Blonde Ale, American Pale Ale and Bourbon Milk Stout ( soon to be renamed as The Raven. ) These beloved cask ales were sold across the North East of England, and production was going well.
In 2012 our creator Mark Hird received a brewing course as a 40th birthday present from his wife Nicola. He came away from it full of ideas, and decided he wanted to create his own Brewery; Sonnet 43 was born. The team focused on developing it’s own British Style Cask Ales out of the County Durham based Brew House.
Initially we were known as Sonnet 43 which was inspired by the Victorian poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning, who was born and raised in Coxhoe, County Durham. Mark was quoted saying “The craft beer market is one of the only sectors in the pub industry that has shown strong growth in recent years and I’m really excited about playing a role and supporting the shift from mass-produced beers to ones that have been more lovingly crafted.” – And with that, and for the love for beer, Sonnet 43 was born!