I started Emmanuales in 2014 with big dreams. I wanted to own a microbrewery, to join the great beer reformation. Whilst brewing on my kitchen stovetop with friends on warm summers evenings, I would explain the grand vision: To be a brewery with a difference; a brewery that brewed beers of biblical proportions in every aspect, where every beer is something special; to employ people who are as passionate and as dedicated to it as we were, who were more than employees but a family on a mission to spread the Good News one beer at a time, whilst never forcing religion down people’s throats – just beer.
We wanted to be creative with our beers and our beliefs, to brew good and to do good in a world where most people perceive Christians to be gay-hating, Trump voting, gun toting Evangelicals, solely out to ‘convert’ them to their unprogressive, rule-based beliefs.
We wanted to make people smile through our unique, colourful, quirky branding. Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, not seriousness. And we wanted to bring joy, all whilst making beers that held their own in a world of Magic Rock, Northern Monk, Beavertown and Siren Craft, to the glory of God… at least that was the goal, anyway!
Having partnered with The Sheffield Brewery Company, where I am now the Head Brewer (and most other things!), I hoped the role would allow me opportunity to develop and grow the Emmanuales brand to a wider audience on a larger scale, finding a niche within the highly competitive and creative craft beer market.
While the founders of the brewery have been supportive in allowing me to continue to brew Emmanuales under their roof, trying to effectively balance and operate two business models with separate visions has proven extremely challenging and proven unsustainable. Rather than being able develop the products and ideas I’ve had for the brand, I quickly came to the realisation that I only had the personal and brewhouse capacity to focus on upscaling the Emmanuales core range – albeit irregularly – at a scale that I felt would satisfy both the cask, keg and small pack market.
Although the long term dream was to run Emmanuales as an autonomous brewing business, without significant financial backing, going solo and entering the craft beer market would carry huge risks. The UK’s craft beer industry is quickly reaching saturation point, and although there is room for growth for craft beer (it accounts for between 3-7% of UK sales within British beer sales), casualties loom on the horizon for both the new and long established breweries. The overwhelming choice for consumers and insatiable appetite for new flavour experiences means competition is unbelievably fierce and only the financially fittest, heavily resourced, and robust businesses will survive.
After long deliberation, seeking wise counsel from trusted individuals, and many dark hours soul searching, I drawn the conclusion that it is within the interests of the Emmanuales brand, The Sheffield Brewery Company business, and my own personal and family’s well-being to call last orders on Emmanuales.
Although I still wholeheartedly believe in Emmanuales as a brand, an ideology, and the beers I’ve produced – which have been enjoyed by many over the several years I’ve been brewing them – the significant financial, time and personal investment required to grow the brand doesn’t lend itself to brewing beer and merely hoping for the best; it needs a laser-like focus which I – probably along with most small business owners – simply do not have the capacity to give.
Death is always sad, and I felt it potent to share this on Good Friday, the day Jesus laid down his life for the sake of the world.
In the Christian tradition, knowing his impending crucifixion and death, Jesus ate and shared his last meal with his best buds – the Twelve Disciples (or 11, as one of then turned out to be a right, old git!). On the night he was betrayed, broke bread and shared in wine, Jesus himself spoke of the following, though not in these words, to his faithful friends:
Light after darkness, gain after loss.
Strength after weakness, crowned at the cross.
Sweet after bitter, hope after fears.
Harm after wandering, praise after tears.
Seeds after sowing, sun after rain
Sight after mystery, peace after pain.
Joy after sorrow, calm after gassed
Rest after weariness sweetness at last
Death is not the end, merely a new beginning. One day, Emmanuales will be resurrected. There will be a Second Coming, different and more glorious than the first. But for now, we’re laying it in the tomb and offering it up!
Of course, it wouldn’t be the perfect ending to this gospel without releasing one final beer. The Last Super is a worthy, divine, Holy Trinity of Hops, 10% Double IPA, hopped with Loral, Citra, Amarillo, Falconer’s Flight, Simcoe, Mosaic, Palisade, and Brewer’s Gold. It’s a small batch beer, like we used to produce in the early days, and will be available soon in limited quantities from a few outlets in and around Sheffield.
I’d like to thank all my good friends who have helped and encouraged me on the journey so far, and all the customers who have supported the brand over the years we’ve been going.
And finally, I want to thank you – our Craft Beer Devotees.
Without you, this never would have become a reality. You came to the events, you purchased the beer, you bought the t-shirt (and if you didn’t, there’s still time!), and you believed in it. It made you smile. You chatted shit with your mates over it. You enjoyed a film whilst drinking it. It spurrted out over your kitchen floor. For one small moment in your life, it brought you joy – the kind of joy and deep breathing out after a hard day at work that nothing else in God’s green creation can except a cool beer.
And see you on the other side.