Jarrow boss raises a glass to the future - as brewery makes comeback

Arbier boss Mark Robinson is toasting a bright business future.
Arbier boss Mark Robinson is toasting a bright business future.
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A much-loved South Tyneside brewery is ‘ale and hearty’ again thanks to a £50,000 rescue bid - less than a year after last orders were served.

Time was called on Jarrow Brewery after the firm slumped into administration twice in a matter of months last year, but now a welcome successor has rose up to build on its legacy.

Arbier title ales introduced to McConnell's Gin and Ale House.
From left staff Gill Bewick, MD Mark Robinson and team leader Charli Wilkinson

Arbier title ales introduced to McConnell's Gin and Ale House. From left staff Gill Bewick, MD Mark Robinson and team leader Charli Wilkinson

Borough businessman Jess McConnell finally admitted defeat in a bid to salvage his beloved brewery when he was declared bankrupt in October.

But the borough brewery - which was a huge hit with drinkers since its launch in 2002 - is set to go from bust to boom thanks to first-time business boss Mark Robinson.

The 53-year-old, who has a wealth of experience in senior sales positions, struck a deal to buy the business’ remaining assets lock, stock and beer barrels from administrators in May.

Mr Robinson, from Monkton Village, Jarrow, has all the ingredients for success after securing the company’s brewing plant in Bede Industrial Estate and the recipe for every tasty ale they ever cultivated.

I found it an opportunity I couldn’t resist

Mark Robinson

Mr Robinson has named the brewery Arbier - meaning our beer - and is eager to make the most of the firm’s untapped potential.

He has already splashed out £50,000 to get the brewery up and running and sees the glass as far from half empty for its prospects to come.

He will also be given vital help at the helm by two former Jarrow Brewery stalwarts, Shaun Dunn, who is in charge of transport logistics, and head brewer Mikaela Finnigan.

Mr Robinson said: “I was a massive fan of the Jarrow Brewery and I frequented all their pubs for many years. The décor of their public houses was always first class and I loved their recollection of local history in their beer names.

“When I heard that the remaining assets of the Jarrow Brewery were for sale I found it an opportunity that I could not resist.

“I have purchased the brewing plant that was based in South Shields and every recipe that was brewed by Jarrow Brewery.

“The names of our new beers reflect the heritage we now possess and the first four beers have been branded.”

The four new beers - called Legacy, Renaissance, Decadence and Reformation - are just the start of an ambitious expansion plan.

Mr Robinson added: “We have four beers at the moment and would like there to be a minimum of 39 on sale over the next 18 months.

“We are looking to distribute to between 200 and 300 pubs.

“We are already supplying the gin and ales for the Bill Quay Beer and Music Festival during the Bank Holiday weekend this month.

“The festival attracts 2,000 to 3,000 people and will be a great way to spread our word.

“At the moment the business is three people including myself, but we are looking to expand.

“Shaun and Mikaela lost their jobs when Jarrow Brewery closed so it is great that we can get them back in work.”

New head brewer Mikaela Finnigan said; “I am so proud to be able to produce quality local beers again.

“North eastern drinkers were devastated when the Jarrow Brewery closed”.

The new range of beers are taking pride of place at McConnell’s Gin and Ale House in Walter Street, Jarrow from tomorrow and will also be on sale at the Holborn Rose and Crown, The Address and the Marine, all South Shields, the Jolly Sailor in Whitburn and the Beggars Bridge, East Boldon.