The Seven Brothers Brewery from Salford
PUBLISHED: 12:27 15 July 2016 | UPDATED: 17:53 15 July 2016
Seven Salford brothers have brewed up a highly successful business making craft beer. Mairead Mahon reports
There aren’t many breweries that can say that they’ve had the blessing of the great and good but if you count the prime minister and a priest among that number, then the Salford Quays based Seven Bro7hers Micro-Brewery fits the bill. When former Prime Minister David Cameron visited, he gave it his official blessing, while having a quick taster behind the scenes and when Father Mike arrived, he blessed the barrels and had a quick taster in front of the scenes.
One, or maybe both, of the blessings worked because since then the brewery has gone on to win awards, supply major supermarkets and they are even opening their own bar later this year. Not bad for a band of blood brothers who only started their label in 2014.
There are indeed seven of the McEvoy boys – Guy, Keith, Luke, Dan, Nathan, Kit and Greg. You might recognise Nathan as he is a Rugby League professional who has played for Salford Reds and Bradford Bulls, as well as being capped for England. All have had other careers ranging from plumbing to teaching and they have all been successful in them, so what prompted them to enter the risky world of craft beers?
‘We have our dad, Eric, to blame for that,’ says Kit. ‘His hobby was home brewing and when we moved into a Salford house that had a cellar just the right temperature for brewing, well it would have been churlish to ignore the pointing finger of fate.’
The seven and their four sisters – yes, there are eleven siblings – all helped Eric, as he experimented with his beers. It became a rite of passage that the first legal drink any of the siblings had was their dad’s own 4% beer. It wasn’t always smooth sailing though, as exploding bottles also punctuated the learning curve!
‘It was fun growing up with our dad and his beers – the parties were always cool and, at Christmas, always ended with a showing of the film, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. We’d all shake our heads sadly at the thought of seven brothers getting married and vowed it wouldn’t happen to us but things change and, between us, we now have five brides and one partner!’ laughs Kit.
Other things changed as well: the boys followed careers but the interest in brewing never went away. They still went around to help their dad and, of course, seriously sampled craft beers. It wasn’t until a trip to Oslo in 2013 that they realised just what a thirst there was for craft beers in Europe and when they came home, they realised that England was just on the cusp of sharing that enthusiasm.
‘We knew we wanted to take the plunge: it had always been a dream for us to work together as a team and we knew enough about brewing to start a steep learning curve. Mind you, no matter what the dream, it will go as flat as warm beer without funding,’ says Kit.
A government start-up loan came through and, with frightening speed, the dream had become a reality. Premises on Salford Quays were found, equipment was purchased and the brewing experiments began. They are a team but inevitably, there were passionate discussions about the beers that were brewed. Still, they do have their own commandments to help them which they drew up before they’d brewed the first batch. Including things such as remembering never, ever, to be beer geeks and to always have a responsible attitude. The one that is most important to the brothers though is to always remember that they are, after all, family. Hard to forget of course, especially when all four brewing vessels are named after a family member: dad Eric; mum Elsie and grans Lottie and Freda.
‘We can discuss as passionately as we like but we are always going to be brothers and so we’ll find a way through. No-one is going anywhere and anyway, we always have our parents to act as referees! The beer has to pass dad’s taste test and so far, we have pale ales, black ales and a porter stout. We’re all happy with them, including Greg who is secretly a lager drinker, although we try not to hold that against him,’ says Kit.
Greg notwithstanding, it’s more than just the brothers and their dad who are happy with them. They’ve already won CAMRA awards, provide casks to a variety of bars and bottles to supermarkets such as Tesco and Booths. In fact, it’s been such a runaway success that, later this year, they’re opening their own Seven Bro7hers bar in Manchester.
‘One thing we can be certain of is that even if no-one else comes to the opening night, there’ll be plenty of bodies there as we have 27 children between us, as well as a host of other relatives,’ says Kit.
But what did bring the Prime Minister and a priest to the brewery? ‘David Cameron came along as we were held up as a success story for start-up loans, which was very flattering,’ says Kit. ‘Father Mike came along because my mother insisted that we seek the blessing of an even higher authority than the prime minister so, earthly and heavenly, we’ve got it covered!’