Ivybridge Brewing Company, a brewery in Ivybridge that provides work and training opportunities for people with learning difficulties, has won two awards at the Food Drink Devon Awards.
The not-for-profit, social enterprise received two gold awards for their IPAs, Erme Pale and Moorland Mosaic on October 2nd.
They were also awarded a gold from Taste of the West for their taproom bar earlier in the year.
The brewery was established by Simon Rundle.
He said: “The company was founded at the end of 2018. I was a marine biologist at Plymouth. My daughter Nia has learning difficulties, (so) I was very aware of the difficulties faced.”
“We started off brewing in the Town Hall in Ivybridge using the small kitchen there. We got funding to upscale the brewery, which is now in Glanville’s Mill.
“We wanted to give work and volunteering opportunities for people with learning difficulties.”
The company started with four members of staff and now have fifteen people involved.
“They help with all processes of the brewing process and sales as well,” said Simon. “They brew the beer, package it, label it and bottle it…. and are also involved with selling it, using a whole range of skills.”
The company’s motto is ‘Great Beer Changing Lives’, and that is what they aspire to do: “The more beer we sell, the more money we make, and the more opportunities we can offer.”
He says its important for his staff to be involved in making a quality product: “It shows the value people with learning difficulties can have. Their learning difficulties don’t mean they can’t do something as well as anyone else.”
Simon’s staff were overjoyed at the wins: “They were really pleased. We have a social every month and I announced it at that. We’ve got a real team spirit….. it gives them a sense of place in a way.”
Working at the brewery offers the staff a sense of responsibility, demonstrating that they can do anything they put their mind to.
“A lot of them receive care work with care providers, which helps them a lot, (but) we give them something more. (We) try to get as many of them as possible involved with the selling.
“Its something like 5.1% of people with learning difficulties have some sort of paid or meaningful employment, which is really low. I’m trying to make a bit of a difference.”
The community have responded well to the brewing company: “We’re in the centre of Ivybridge, embedded in the centre off the community… We’re growing a number of regulars and people do pop their head in the door and say congratulations, but its just growing that audience of people that know about us (as) we’re a little bit hidden away.”
The brewery have previously received support from Unlimited, Comic Relief, the lottery and the Co-op community fund, but they need funding to continue.
“This years not been great for funding… and we still rely on (it).”
Their newest collaboration beer with St Austell brewery is being released this week, so feel free to pop in and try it.