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Friday, 21 November 2014

Former press photographer takes over at Cumbrian micro brewery

One of Cumbria’s oldest micro breweries has welcomed new owners.

Mark Johnston photo
Mark and Ali Johnston at the Derwent Brewery

Former newspaper photographer Mark Johnston, 48, and his wife Ali, 43, have taken over the Derwent Brewery in Silloth.

The couple, from Flimby, took over ownership on Ali’s birthday on January 16 from Stuart Richardson.

She had worked there for three years as an administrator.

Mark, who said he was always a keen follower of real ale, has become the chief brewer at the business – thought to be one of the county’s oldest micro breweries.

He said: “We both liked the idea of being our own bosses and taking over a business we both had a passion for.

“It’s been non-stop since we took over producing our 25 different ales a year.

“There are peaks and troughs of each season but so far we have been working flat out.”

Derwent Brewery, home of the award-winning Auld Kendal beer, has seven regular brews of the 25 produced each year and the rest are seasonal or produced for special occasions.

Mark said he already knew a bit about brewing before he took over the firm.

He added: “We brew three or four times a week and we produce around 1,400 pints per brew.

“It’s selling really well.”

The couple has kept the best known brands including the Carlisle State Bitter – made to the original ripe of the beer brewed by the state-owned Carlisle Brewery which was established shortly after World War One. Their ale is sold all over the county, across the North East, in Yorkshire and as far down as Liverpool, Manchester, Bolton and parts of Cheshire.

Mark, who has two children, and Ali, who has four, said their family has been a fantastic support to them when it came to business.

He added: “They have supported us both financially and personally, so it’s been a lovely for us.”

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