Booker's Hart leaves to set up brewing business

Booker’s wine category manager, Rob Hart, has left the business to start his own microbrewery.

Hart, who had been with the cash and carry firm for five-and-a-half years, and was previously the wine and spirits buyer at Unwins, has established Hart Family Brewers in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire.

The business will focus on the local on-trade but Hart said all beers would also be available to the off-trade in bottle-conditioned form.

Hart said he had grown disillusioned with the wine trade but had briefly considered the idea of starting an independent wine shop. 

“It didn’t seem a great lifestyle choice for us, with a young family,” he said.

“If there’s one ray of light in the world of drinks at the moment it’s local ale. We’ve found a fantastic early Victorian building in the middle of Wellingborough which was a gaslight works. The brew plant arrives at the end of May.”

Hart has been brewing his own beer for 10 years but this is his first venture as a commercial brewer. 

“We’re going to have a tight range of four core lines and we’ll bottle all of them,” he said. 

“We’ll target independent wine merchants, farm shops and garden centres – slightly more premium retailers that are already building a market for local produce.”

The range will include a best bitter called Number 1, a ruby mild called Number 3 and a dark beer called Number 8. Hart also hopes to brew a cloudy wheat beer.

Hart’s position at Booker has been taken by Graham Threader, who was until recently sales and marketing director at the British Institute of Innkeeping and has held similar positions with Indage UK and Waverley TBS.

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