With real ales being at the height of popularity and micro-breweries springing up all over the East Midlands, We felt a visit to Brew Cavern was in order, particularly as they have been a great supporter of Snizl! This craft ale store situated in Flying Horse Walk arcade – Nottingham’s home of boutique and independent retail, is a hidden little gem. Matthew Hinton opened Brew Cavern in October 2014, specialising in local, national and international craft beers, real-ales and ciders.
We wanted to ask him a few questions to find out what it’s like to run a small business in Nottingham. So we settled in to chat surrounded by bottles covered in bright enticing labels, including beers with tasting notes of white chocolate and coffee calling our name… this was the perfect setting to hear about the day-to-day running of Nottingham’s premier independent real-ale retailer.
What was it about Nottingham that made you decide to start your business here?
Well, I grew up in Nottingham, but in 2011 I moved up to Sheffield for work and we were there for three years before deciding to move back. In that time I got quite into beer – there’s a really good scene up there. Some great breweries, really good pubs and I met quite a few friends who were into it too, so I developed quite an interest. Whilst I was there a couple of bottle shops opened, I met one of the owners at a beer festival. I went down to the opening of his shop and saw how well stocked and busy it was, so I became quite a regular customer. I got to know him well and then realised that I’d quite like to work for myself. So when we decided we were moving back I put the wheels in motion by writing a business plan and then eventually launched in October. Exciting times!
The new generation seems to be open to trying new things, especially real ales. Is this the new trend, what have you seen?
Lots of people have their stories; people have their gateway beer that introduces them to really good stuff. For me it was interesting because even before I moved to Sheffield I had an interest in real-ale, so I used to go out and have a few drinks with my dad when he used to come up and visit me, and it became a bit of a routine to go on a pub crawl, kind of continued that interest and got more and more interested. It was at that time that craft beer was beginning to be recognised as a term and I got introduced to beers that I’d never even considered before such as American IPAs, some Imperial Stouts, some stuff that if I hadn’t have moved to Sheffield I probably would never have come across, so it was a little moment for me if you like. It was a great coincidence that everything came together at the right time, having that big move, the reason for my dad to visit, the reason for us to drink together, meeting all these new people and craft beer coming into fashion, it all happened at the right time. I thought there was clearly potential for this, there was a gap in the market for a store like this in Nottingham.
Is Nottingham a good city for small businesses?
There’s good things and there’s bad things like any city. For me, what we’re doing is quite unique. I guess the benefit of not having a door on our store is that we’re getting direct feedback from people walking past, people saying “ooh that’s good for Christmas”, and then some people come in and buy stuff off the cuff. So I think in that sense, being central is beneficial. I think there is a scene in Nottingham that’s starting to develop now, with new bars opening and an interested not just in Nottingham but in other cities for craft beer – we’re getting to the point now where we can be considered as a bit of a destination now for good beer. So yeah, there’s tons of positives.
It was great to hear from Matthew, a Snizl user from the early days of our launch. If you want to sample some of the wide array of bottles in stock (lots of local beers too), you’ll find him nestled away in the Flying Horse Walk arcade, just off St Peter’s Gate. You can also find out about the latest offers at Brew Cavern on their Snizl page. So keep your eyes peeled for offers and exciting new beers.