Brewers at Oakham Ales, in Maxwell Road, have been turning out a steady flow of casks, cans and bottles of their award-winnings ales in readiness for the first weekend for months where pubs could open for indoors trade.
The lifting of Government lockdown restrictions has meant pubs have been able to serve customers outdoors only since April 12 but since last Monday, they have also been able to serve customers inside the pub as well.
Adrian Posnett, managing director of Oakham Ales, said: “Our brewers have been working flat out for the last six or eight weeks, building our cask ale availability for the full re-opening of pubs on May 17 and replenishing bottled beer stocks after the unprecedented level of supermarket sales during lockdown.
He said: “Our customers have also been working extremely hard to make their venues as safe as possible for the re-opening, so we’re very hopeful that there will no false start this time - the brewing and hospitality industries simply can’t afford for there to be one.
“So we’re in a good position to cope with the huge uplift in demand we expect over the next few weeks and our impression is that although there does seem to be a supply problem with some lager brands brewed by international brewers, there’s no shortage of ‘good’ beers ready to welcome customers back - including no less than 17 different Oakham cask ales.
Mr Posnett added: “As for Sunday working, well brewing top quality cask ale is a seven day a week labour of love for our brewers at any time.”
Mr Posnett said the immediate future would be an anxious time for industry before it could be sure there would not be any further lockdowns.
He said: “We do however have our fingers very firmly crossed that all goes well.
“It’s only a full re-opening that will allow us to get back to more normal sales levels and to begin to stabilise our hard-hit finances.
“With the pubs being closed for eight months out of the last 12, it’s been a long drawn out challenge for a brewery like ourselves who in normal times would count on around 75 per cent of our production being draught beer.”