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Brewery bids for outdoor bar

Kirstie Newton

Skinner’s Brewery has pledged to “give back to the community” after the launch of its Crowdfunder campaign was met with an overwhelming response.

The Truro brewery embarked on its quest on March 1, with the aim of raising a ‘survival pot’ of £100,000 to help it remain operational until pubs are permitted to reopen fully in May. The target was passed in just four days as the community rallied around, and is fast approaching the new target of £150,000 to create a buzzing new social space for Truro.

The independent brewery is owned by husband-and-wife team Steve and Elaine Skinner. “The public supported and shared our campaign with a generosity beyond our wildest dreams,” said Steve. “We were amazed and humbled by the response and want to thank everyone who came to our aid.”

The pair described 2020 as “the perfect storm”. Covid-19 hit just as the business was in a key transition phase; the tap room, brewery tours, onsite shop and the Old Ale House on Lemon Quay all had to close, along with the pubs, restaurants and hotels that accounted for up to 70 per cent of turnover.

At the time of writing, pledges had reached £132,589 – around 88 per cent of the total target, with a deadline of 11am on March 29. “Given the incredible levels of support we received early on, we were nudged to think bigger,” said Elaine. “We decided to use the extra funds to kick-start a project we’ve been dreaming of for a while: to create an outdoor drinking and eating space by the waterside here in Newham, where locals and brewery visitors can relax, meet, socialise and party on a regular basis. It will be game-changer for the brewery, and for Truro.”

The space will be split into three areas: Alfresco Square, Woodland Hangout and Skinner’s Corner. Pop-up food outlets, Skinner’s brews on tap and regular live music events will provide the backdrop for after-work drinks, leisurely weekend brunches and long-overdue social gatherings, all within striking distance of the city centre. “We want to create jobs and opportunities for others, including Cornwall’s amazing food businesses and the music performers who have struggled throughout the pandemic,” added Elaine.

Alongside the reopening of the Skinner’s-owned Old Ale House on Quay Street, this new project promises to breathe life back into the city post-pandemic and, if enough is raised, it could be up and running very quickly.

Penryn-based architects Märraum have created an architectural vision for the new bar, which will have “a casual, working-brewery feel” with repurposed beer barrels, wooden benches and shipping containers serving street food, softened by lots of green planting – including fruit trees and hops – festoon lighting and timber cladding. An animated impression can be viewed on YouTube.

In addition, online bottle sales have been so successful during lockdown, Steve and Elaine are determined to invest in a canning line with the twin aims of reaching new audiences and to reducing environmental impact.

Crowdfunder rewards range from the chance to join folk singer Will Keating and friends for a night to remember at the brewery this summer (£50); a personalised video message from Betty Stogs (£50); a year’s worth of beer (£300); and a variety of “beer the bank” vouchers.

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