MP gets flavour of real ale fight

Lisa Nandy pictured at prospect Brewery at Standish with Patsy Slevin and her team of brewers

Lisa Nandy pictured at prospect Brewery at Standish with Patsy Slevin and her team of brewers

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A WIGAN brewer has enroled the town’s MP in a bid to boost the real ale industry.

Multi-award winning Prospect Brewery in Standish welcomed MP Lisa Nandy on a visit to discuss the future of brewers.

She tasted a pint of the brewery’s new summer 3.8 per cent ABV straw-coloured summer ale, ‘Ore-some,’ which is just about to hit pub cellars across the counties of Lancashire and Greater Manchester.

Boss and founder Patsy Slevin believes that the town’s real ale breweries could become a significant employment and revenue-raising force if the trade could be freed from the shackles of the beer tax escalator which currently increases duty by two per cent over the rate of inflation.

There are now three cask ale breweries in operation in the locality – Mayflower (Up Holland), All Gates (Wallgate) – and Prospect, which last year outgrew premises at the rear of Mrs Slevin’s late mum in law’s home and moved into a new brewery in the former Heinz steam pudding shop on Bradley Trading Estate at Standish.

The expansion means that Prospect has doubled its production capacity just three years after being formed.

Mrs Slevin, who gave up a management role in children’s nurseries in a dramatic career change to found the brewery, believes that there is a strong market for local craft products across Wigan if the tax on beer was more favourable. She says that with tighter margins than the few remaining multi-national brands, micro-brewers need help from Governments of either complexion is they are to continue thriving.

Once of only six professional full time women brewers in the business in the UK, her quirky brewery and flavoursome products have already achieved national fame after being featured by wine and beer boffins Oz Clark and James May on the BBC.

She said: “I am concerned about the future of craft brewing. During the MP’s visit, we talked about the rate of beer duty and the fact that the escalator in place so currently it goes up two per cent above inflation.

“The MP was very pleased to see that this small business which started as a one-woman-band is now contributing to the nation’s coffers in terms of employment and PAYE as well as beer duty and the fact that we have taken five people off unemployment benefit.

“She tried the Ore-some, which is flavoured with lemon, which she said was ‘fab,’ so I was very pleased about that because Parliamentarian’s taste buds are always worth culturing!

“Miss Nandy was clearly very interested in the process of brewing and we took her through the various stages. She said that she was pleased that she could now talk with more authority about brewing and the challenges we face when questions about the industry are raised in the House of Commons.

“We also emphasised that we are very concerned about the continuing problems with pub closures and the dwindling market where cask ales can be sold and she listened carefully to our worries and opinions.”

Wigan MP Lisa Nandy said after the visit that she was delighted to meet a woman whose small business was such a success and she would take the problems facing the industry into Parliament after MPs recovenve after the recess.

She said: “It was great to meet Patsy and the team.

“She is one of the few women brewers in the UK has made a real success story of Prospect, generating jobs and investment and I hope the brewery goes from strength to strength.”