DECIDING to open a new business is always a risky venture. 

And when your line of work involves an industry which is struggling it is even more so. 

But microbreweries in south Essex are seemingly bucking the trend where pubs and bars are closing. 

Leigh on Sea Brewery was founded in 2017, and they make award winning traditional ales and craft beers – which are available in pubs and tap rooms across Essex and beyond.

They also sell directly to the public though their online shop.

Leigh on Sea Brewery have their own on-site Brewery Tap Room, in Progress Road, as well as a pub called Legra Tap, named after their most popular beer.

Ian Rydings, one of the directors, said: “Since we opened in the 2017, we have had amazing support from our local customers, both those who drink in the local pubs and restaurants and those who come to our Tap Room in Progress Road or buy from our online shop. 

“It is this local support that saw us through the Covid pandemic and are helping us navigate the current economic and cost of living challenges.”   

Gary Tredgett, also a director, added: “What we notice most about the craft beer movement is the fact that our beer appeals across the generations. 

“We often have whole families at our Tap Room, grandparents, parents, and adult children. 

“They try the full range of our beers, from our more traditional cask ales to our hop filled, hazy craft brews. 

“It is often said that if you don’t like beer, you just haven’t found the one that suits you yet as the variety is enormous.”

Despite the success Leigh on Sea Brewery has had since launched, there have been many pubs closes across Essex and the UK following the pandemic and cost-of-living crisis.

In 2022 alone, almost 400 pubs across England and Wales shut with many impacted by the cost-of-living crisis.

Steve Haslam, who runs the Bread and Cheese pub in Benfleet as well as several other pubs in Essex, said the closure rate is “upsetting” and “holding your own” is a win in today’s market.

He described the struggles pub owners face: “Owning pubs was always a dream I had after many years of being a pub cleaner. It finally came true.

“I met my now wife, who was a pub manager, and we realised the dream together.

“That was 17 years ago and despite the smoking ban in pubs we grew a great group of pubs with some happy and successful years.

“Fast forward to now it is a different world to own a pub.

“The closure rate today is so upsetting, and the biggest proportion is independent pubs.

“We thought the pandemic was bad for business. But we currently ride a perfect storm, with energy bills quadrupled, hospitality inflation over 20 per cent, rising wages, and staff shortages. It is really tough to make a living.

“Margins are at historic lows, and prices continue to rise in a cost-of-living crisis.

“We are holding our own which is a win in today’s market.

“But it is great to see that people are entering the microbrewery market, it is very brave but commendable in this current market.

“If I was to send one message this winter, it would be to support independent businesses, your customer is needed across all sectors.

“We are the life blood of communities and will be lost forever without your support.”