In the sleepy picturesque village of Ashurst, West Sussex something is a buzz on Ford Farm. It is here, that Wingtip Brewing Company runs its day-to-day operations. Devoid of any stainless steel tanks, bearded-foe or the merest whiff of hops in the air, they go about their business in a slightly different fashion from your usual brewery set-up.
Sat upon a set of aircraft passenger seats with one foot up in the air, Director Simon Tripp contemplates their current position whilst fidgeting with a model aeroplane that usually sits pride of place on his desk. “Fight, flight or crash-land” he says. An appropriate array of trajectories for a brand imbued with the characteristics of flight and travel or perhaps not now that COVID-19 has turned the wider drinks and hospitality industry on its head.
What is Wingtip Brewing Company all about?
First and foremost we produce The Captain Pilsner, this is our main beer. We brew with an outsourced partner – which has SALSA accredited hygiene standards and uses the freshest ingredients. The travel and adventure theme was inspired by his fondness for air travel and sharing travelling experiences. We wanted to reflect that in a premium beer brand. It was really important that the beer was just how we wanted it – flavoursome, quenchable and refreshing! We wanted something that was memorable, distinctive and made you smile. You don’t find us in cliched craft beer outlets. From their Ashurst operation, they distribute to the likes of Harrods, Cahoots (one of the best bars in the world), boutique hotels and Virgin Atlantic lounges. Closer to home, we’re proud to support places like that of Salt Room, Coal Shed, Market Restaurant and Plateau in Brighton. It’s a great feeling seeing people enjoy our beer!
In recent years Wingtip has climbed to a higher altitude distributing all over the UK and exporting its beer into Europe and beyond. They are now the main London and Southern partner for Morgenrot Group, a 50 year-old family wine, spirits and beer importer whose products encompass organic and bio-dynamic wines and the UK distribution rights to the likes of Alhambra, Krombacher and Sierra Nevada beers.
How has COVID-19 Wingtip Brewing, and what has been your response?
Our business is heavily weighted towards the on-trade, so that’s pubs, bars, restaurants and hotels – it’s the hospitality sector that’s been hit very hard. It’s not been good to be honest, coupled with the fact that our brand is an advocate of the aviation and travel sector. Our initial reaction was to go into hibernation mode, but we quickly decided to pick ourselves up with our online retail and the off- trade customers – wine and beer shops. Business has been relatively buoyant in this sector, but it’s nothing compared to what we were doing before the corona-virus came along.
In the face of our war with this disease the NHS and government have been doing an amazing job, and many companies have been doing what they can to support the effort. For us we’ve been able to donate soft drinks to local food banks and assist local consumers with beer deliveries and essential items, maintaining cleanliness and distancing measures as we go about our business.
Although our future flight-path looks a little turbulent, and life might not be the same again for a great many of us, we currently remain optimistic that we can come through this better and stronger, making more time for ourselves – with radical new ideas and exciting new plans on the horizon.
What typical activities does Wingtip Brewing get involved in?
In recent years we’ve hosted some quirky aviator parties with our promo team in a whole host of venues, we’ve featured at Open Air Cinema events, and we do some great stuff with the Aviator – a prestigious hotel on the perimeter of Farnborough Airport. We take great pride in our regular slot at “Park it in the Market” in Greenwich – each month, this historical indoor cobbled market hall is jammed-packed with a collective of classic cars and bikes, where we serve up some of our finest aviation lubricants at our look-alike Gas Station bar. Doing these sorts events is always hard-work, but it gives us a real buzz, we meet some great people, and we go away with a big smile!
Where’s the first place you will go after the lockdown is over?
Our friendly local, The Fountain Inn in Ashurst. We can’t wait to sit in the garden, and laugh and cry with family and friends again.
What is your favourite meal?
Plane Food, of course!
What car do you drive?
At the moment, I’m helping-out with deliveries – so I’m driving one of the company vans
What’s your favourite thing to do in Sussex?
I really enjoy visiting Lewes, I love wasting time away in the many flea markets and vintage shops, then finishing off with a stroll along the River Ouse.
Pick up your FREE 330ml can of Wingtip Captain Pilsner at Hobbs, when you quote #365Magazine with a minimum spend of just £10
Hobbs of Hurstpierpoint, 87 High Street, Hurstpierpoint, Hassocks BN6 9RE
Whilst stocks lasts, redemption promotion runs until May 31st 2020