Woodforde’s brewery has announced plans to ramp up its focus on the off-trade after 18 months of planning and investment from its new owners.

Nick Dolan, owner of London indie Real Ale, teamed up with former Diageo exec James Hughes to buy the brewery in 2016.

Dolan, the chief operating officer, told DRN: “When we purchased the business 18 months ago part of the plan was to update the brands. We wanted to be more dynamic and we knew we needed a strong identity and a new brand look, and we think this is a good image that calls on our heritage. We are proud of being a Norfolk brewer and we needed the image to make that clear.”

The new identity incorporates a Nelson Silhouette which represents Norfolk, known as ‘Nelson’s county’. For Woodforde’s, the company says Nelson represents its heritage, provenance, great character and “one that delivers and expects the best”.

Dolan adds: “The brewery has grown since 1981 when it started just producing beer in casks. It is still mostly cask but we are looking to invigorate the business by being more active in the off-trade. We already have bottles now in some regional supermarkets around Norfolk and East Anglia and these are selling very well. Over the next 12 to 18 months we are looking to expand our bottle production and looking forward we will also move into cans, which is one of the next steps.

“First we need to build relationships with people in the off-trade to get our beers into the wider UK off-trade market. We have two Supreme Champion Beers of Britain with Wherry Amber Ale and Norfolk Nog Dark Ale, and we have had very good feedback from all of the off-trade and wholesale customers we already have. We also introduced two IPA-style beers this year as we know we needed to realign and diversify the business to cater for modern tastes.”

Dolan said the company is “blessed” to have both a 30 and a 60 barrel brewhouse and so it has the capacity to expand and it can trial new beers on its seasonal beer rotation programme.

“This year we predicted double-digit growth and we are on track to meet that. We have increased staff numbers by 15% since we bought the business as we have always been preparing for expansion.”