Updated: Dec 7, 2021
Welcome back to another addition of our customer spotlight! Our section of the website where we get to talk to and showcase some of our awesome customers!
What does Bragdy Cybi actually mean?
The Welsh name for Holyhead where we live and work is Caergybi, literally translates to Cybi’s fort. Cybi was a 6th century Saint who settled here and opened a monastery in the port town. Bragdy is the Welsh word for brewery. So Cybi’r Brewery. We’re both Welsh speakers, as are 67% of the residents of Anglesey, so a Welsh name was very important to us.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your brewery?
We’re a husband-and-wife team and this venture is my husband’s midlife crisis! Dan was made redundant at the end of 2019, after working for the same company for nearly 30 years. He wasn’t even homebrewing at the time! The things he most enjoys are beer and rugby. He’s too old to play rugby so decided to look into making beer.
After taking over the utility room at home and expanding into our kitchen and dining room, we decided to take the plunge and open a brewery in town (And I got my home back!) Even before starting to sell there was lots to do, so I gave up my job at the local authority to work with Dan. We put the redundancy money into a 1 bbl system in the new premises and started brewing. Then came lockdown!
Opening at the start of a global pandemic must have been really hard! Even though it hasn’t been ideal, what good things have come out of your opening in 2020?
We had planned on selling our real ale in food fairs and markets during 2020, so when Covid came, they all cancelled. Fortunately, we had a license to sell from the brewery and so we opened our bottle shop in town. We have been amazed with local support.
Even when Wales had a 5 mile restriction on travel, we’d sell out of beer. Our 1 bbl system only produces on average 270 bottles per batch, but even with 6 fermenters we can’t keep up with demand. Knowing that, we knew that post covid, we’d be running out of beer quicker!
So I suppose, the pandemic has given us a soft opening period, allowing us to learn our trade and how to run a business. Also, people have been keen to support local business, so we’ve benefited from this new trend – let’s hope it continues!
And what has been the biggest challenge due to COVID?
We had to change our business plan quickly when all the markets and food fairs cancelled and find funding to furnish our brewery so we could open a shop. On a personal level, not being able to see our children and our parents, and have their hands on support, has been really difficult.
You have recently achieved your goal on a recent crowdfunder. How was the experience? And why did you decide to go down this funding route rather than more traditional options?
Expanding after 12 months in business is an expensive job! We’ve already invested our savings and Dan’s redundancy into Bragdy Cybi. The new 10 bbl system will be funded by a combination of resilience loan, profit, grants and generous donations from our supporters. If it’s good enough for Brewdog, it’s good enough for us!
To learn more about the expansion and the small brewery head over to their website here.
Your new space that you have acquired looks huge! What are you planning to do with all that extra space?
It looks big because it’s empty – that will soon be remedied! One half will be used as the brewhouse, other half will be for stock and ingredients. We also aim to have a tap room space there so we can hold small occasional events. Hopefully, our 25th wedding anniversary will be one of the first parties there this July. Let’s hope Covid behaves so we can at least invite family to help us celebrate!
Despite the pandemic how difficult has it been to start your own brewery? Do you have any tips for anyone wanting to do the same?
Making beer is much more difficult than I ever imagined! Thankfully, Dan is a perfectionist and a workaholic! So do your research (not the drinking kind!) Read what you can, watch youtube videos, go on intensive and comprehensive courses, visit other breweries and don’t even bother thinking about it unless you love cleaning! And then there’s the legal hoops to think of: licensing; registering as self-employed, sorting out beer tax, planning obligations and environmental health regulations. Other than that, only go into it if you’re a qualified scientist, mathematician, chef, business guru and accountant. Failing that, just be passionate and don’t give up!
I really love your logo and the simplicity to your bottle designs, what inspired them?
Well originally, the logo is a depiction of St Cybi sporting a hops beard. But as a happy accident, Dan is also bald and has a bushy beard so there are similarities! Some of beer names are local place names (Borth, Bae, Llan, Dulas,) 15m² is the surface area of Holy Island, and we have a few that has a nod to some Welsh songs that are special to us (Coffi Du and Sunshine Dan, both songs from two groups from our home town of Blaenau Ffestiniog.) These names then help us find an icon to add to our labels.
What inspires your beer making process? How do you decide on what hops to use?
At home, we only brewed with Grain, never with extract, using both whole and T90 hops. So when we started with the 1bbl system we carried on in the same vain.
We have brewed stouts recently, one with blueberries & coriander seeds. The other with cocoa nibs & ground coffee from the local coffee shop.
This allowed us to experiment with Oats and Lactose. As far as hops - it is such an exciting addition. So complex and varied in flavour and aroma. Again here it is combining hops that can both complement and enhance each other.
Forever searching for perfection!
In the past year or so I’ve really started to enjoy Hazy IPAs. Which of your beers would you recommend?
Also an IPA fan. So will continue to grow this range. “15 square miles” is slightly hazy. Has a nice mix of hops. Dry hopped with Chinook & Nelson Sauvin hops. This is the lightest ale that we make. “Borth” has some Vienna malt, so is slightly darker. Has Mosaic & Simcoe hops, slightly Mango in aroma.
Which beer do you enjoy the most?
My favourite is 15m² - a session IPA. Dan’s favourite is 6 Sitra, made with 6 different hops plus citra.
How have you found it working with Sen5es? Would you recommend us to other small businesses out there?
We’ve ordered from Sen5es from when we were making 30 bottles per batch from home. When we expanded in 2020 from utility to this small building, we carried on using Sen5es as we found them really helpful. Nothing is too much trouble and Stu bends backwards to help us. Now we’re expanding again and will be going from ordering 1500 bottles every three weeks to ordering 10k bottles monthly, I’m confident that Stuart and the gang will be there in spirit to help us with anything!
Wow! What an interesting chat that was. Imagine starting a brewery with all that's been going on in the world! Well, it looks like Bethan and Dan have everything under control and are doing a fantastic job! We love having them as customers and can't wait to help their business continue to grow in to the future.
We love hearing all about our customers, their businesses and products. We hope you do too and find these insights in to small businesses as interesting as we do.
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All the best
The team at Sen5es