Stevenage brewery catches a break with new High Street snooker club
PUBLISHED: 14:48 19 June 2020 | UPDATED: 14:52 19 June 2020
A Stevenage brewery has expanded its repertoire into balls and baize as it prepares to open a new snooker club in the High Street.
Bog Brew Beers, independently run by former electrician Paul Clinton, is a popular presence in the Old Town selling craft beer from the Broken Seal Tap Room, behind Betfred.
Before lockdown, Paul was offered a new location at the back of the Old Town CIU and he had the idea to convert the space into a small snooker club.
Paul says the onset of the pandemic has, surprisingly, been the perfect cue to take the plunge.
“Initially I thought, do I seize the opportunity now, because it would be such a risk to start a new venture,” he said.
“But then I realised I’d never have the opportunity to get the building work done when it’s so quiet.
“While wholesalers were shutting their doors and going into lockdown, I started doing the building work, pretty much on my own, and haven’t had a day off since.”
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The Stevenage Snooker Club, at the rear of 31b High Street – adjacent to the Tap Room – will have three full-sized tables and a pool table. Paul is accepting membership applications ahead of a slated July opening, and you can become a member by filling out an application.
The Broken Seal Tap Room has also remained open throughout the pandemic for socially-distanced sales and delivery.
“We adapted the bar and have been serving beer since lockdown – one in, one out, open every day,” Paul said.
“Once the pandemic hit, one of the challenges we had was trying to work out how to get beer to people. And we came up with this mini-keg system, which is essentially a two-litre cask we fill in the bar.
“Walking around the High Street it’s been strange seeing people with stainless steel kegs in their hand. We have a lot of very grateful customers, put it that way.”
Paul says the brewery has now forged links with larger craft brewers, such as Abbeydale in Sheffield, as he is one of the only brewers still serving.
“Rather than just panic and shut our doors – which is what our competitors did – we realised we could still deliver beer at a safe distance to people,” Paul said.
Paul says there are ongoing conversations with Stevenage Borough Council about the possiblity of relaxing rules to put tables on pavements to encourage outside drinking – ahead of a potential July 4 reopening date for bars and pubs.
In an open letter to the Prime Minister on Wednesday, more than 50 brewing companies called on Boris Johnson to respond to “a moment of maximum jeopardy” in the brewing industry, that could cost hundreds of thousands of jobs, and see pubs close forever.
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