40th birthday

It’s September 25th, 1980, everyone wanted a Rubik’s Cube, we were all still wondering who shot JR and Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back would be the highest grossing film of the year.

In Lincoln, Small Beer off-licence opened its doors for the first time that day, serving hand-pulled beer to a queue of delighted real ale fans.

Fast forward to 2020 and Small Beer is the leading cask and craft beer wholesaler in Britain and celebrating its 40th anniversary.

Managing Director of Small Beer Rob Eastwood said: “It is a very special year for us at Small Beer as we celebrate our 40th anniversary.

“My parents Tone and Jude Eastwood started the business taking that leap of faith to open their first off-licence all those years ago. The risk paid off and Small Beer soon grew to meet demand with two further shops, three pubs and an expanding wholesale arm.

“Wholesale is all Small Beer Ltd does now and we are as passionate as ever about being the best version of this as we can, every day. We are the leading independent cask and craft beer wholesaler in the country as well as offering a huge range of other brands from wines and spirits to soft drinks.

“What started out as one off-licence is now an £18m turnover business employing almost 60 people. Myself and my wife Karen, our Commercial Director, are so proud of everyone who has helped make Small Beer what it is today from our fantastic staff over the years to our suppliers and customers, some of which have been with us from the beginning.”

The first beers on the off-licence bar in 1980 were Everards Tiger and Bateman’s XB two ales which are still firm favourites with Small Beer customers to this day. They are also the two breweries where Karen and Rob first began their careers in the beer industry.

Small Beer works with 500 breweries up and down the country, selling around 55,000 firkins of cask ale every year. It has customers large and small from Newcastle to East Anglia and the south of England.

To mark its ruby anniversary, Small Beer has revealed its top 40 best-selling cask ales of all time. Number one on the list is Timothy Taylor’s Landlord.

A spokesman from the West-Yorkshire-based Timothy Taylor said: “The traditional values on which Small Beer was founded are the same values we here at Timothy Taylor hold ourselves to – brothers in arms when it comes to quality cask ales.

“To have Landlord come in as the best-selling cask ale over their 40 years is a shared achievement and not possible without the hard work and true grit of a wholesaler who genuinely cares about quality as we do.

“The Eastwood family has a long a rich history with us and we raise a glass to Small Beer on their 40th anniversary – here’s to many more.”

As part of its 40th year celebrations, Small Beer has chosen the Lincs and Notts Air Ambulance, based near its warehouse in Bracebridge Heath, as its charity of the year and will be hosting a series of fundraising events from wine tasting to golf days. It is also entering a team for the Lincoln 10K.

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