Jamie Hawksworth and Jonathon Holdsworth grew up just a few miles apart in Derbyshire. They shared friends and both went to Leeds University and studied Civil Engineering with Architecture. Both got their first jobs in York for a large railway engineering consultancy following their graduation. However, up until Jon returned from a 6 month placement on a London project they had never met. Being one year apart (Jon the older ) fate had not brought them together until now.
Fast forward on through many years of railway projects, consulting in to Network Rail as Senior Project Managers and Lead Construction Engineers Jamie got itchy feet and left to undertake works in a different field, this time as a contractor designing and building mobile telecommunications for Vodafone. It was inevitable that their paths would cross again and Jon joined Jamie a couple of years later.
It was on a fateful trip to Prague with a contractor that Jamie sampled Czechs most renowned produce, the beer. A matter of only a few months later and Pivovar was established asd the Uk partner for a Czech family brewery called Bernard and importing fantastic unpasteurised lagers . Unsurprisingly no banks were keen to provide a business loan for some young guys wanting to buy pallet loads of beer with no customers or track record so a rather large bill for beer arrived on their credit cards! This began a sobering lesson in the state of the UK pub market.
Selling draught beer to pubs is hard. Only a small proportion are ‘Free Houses’ and of those most are often still tied to a supplier for their draught lines, often the landlord is too frightened to remove a beer that he has a handful of ‘regulars’ for, or they would rather have 4 or 5 very similar style and abv lagers on because they are commodity beers, big brands, and have been won over by the local sales team that these beers are what the customers want. We had to change this perception, they needed their own bar.
In late 2007 Pivni opened in York, a Grade 2* listed Tudor building which was formerly a travel agent and before that a shoe shop. It had no track record as a pub and neither did they as Landlords. Within the first year Pivni had won the national ‘Free House Pub of The Year’ sponsored by The Publican Magazine. Their point was proven and eyes opened as to the opportunities out there for a bar offering the customer the choice and ambiance they knew people wanted. The same year they entered Bernard Dark lager into Tesco’s drinks awards and won the coveted Lager category, earning a spot of 450 of the nations shelves and great exposure for a great beer and brewery. A year later they achieved the double with Bernard’s non alcoholic Free Amber. Pivovar was really growing now as more and more bars began to embrace quality and provenance above marketing and price.
It was in 2008 that Jamie spotted something from a platform at Sheffield station. An interesting but derelict and unused (apart from a dumping ground) room in the northern station archways. 18 months of legal wranglings later and Jon and Jamie signed the lease for what would be the Sheffield Tap. At this point they made the biggest and most satisfying decision in their professional lives to date and decided to ditch their day jobs and get stuck in 100% to what they wanted to do, as well as they could do it. They wanted to sell the best beer they could in the best bars they could make. Jon and Jamie worked almost every day for 3 months, stripping out, knocking down, building, fixing, painting and finally cleaning the tiles before the Sheffield Tap opened to a great reception in December 2009.
Since then the Euston Tap, York Tap and Cider Tap have followed, all totally different and no sign of ‘chain bar’ but with the same mantra as being places that Jamie and Jon would chose to drink and offering beers that they would want to drink, with no mainstream brands in sight.
Tapped Brew Co. is somewhat of the final piece in the puzzle for Jamie and Jon. Jamie has been a keen home brewer since he was in his early teens. He had always dreamed of becoming a brewer and although his parents encouraged him to go to university instead he still wanted to brew. Taking himself off to Prague for a few weeks in 2009 to train with a master brewer was the catalyst for Jamie. Subsequent UK training and brews with some of the best craft brewers in the UK such as Thornbridge, Magic Rock and Brewdog have all added to the enthusiasm to produce their own beers worthy of a place on the bar at any of the ‘Taps’.