Church Hanbrewery expansion

Expansion-minded micro-brewery comes strongly out of lockdown with beer and pizzas

Saturday June 26 was declared Cask Ale Day by Church Hanbrewery, as an alternative to the brewery open day it had planned to run until lifting of restrictions on social distancing was postponed until July 19. As many beers as possible were made available in cask instead of keg at the brewery’s base in the New Yatt Business Centre near Witney.

The two previous open days were a big success, but despite the disappointment of having to postpone this year’s event, Christian and Luciana Gyuricza and their team are still thinking ahead. There is now an opportunity to see the new taproom, made possible by taking over another unit at the industrial estate. Tables of up to six can be seated indoors, and there is plenty of space outdoors with people invited to bring their own seating.

Part of expansion at New Yatt is the brewery’s first taproom

New Yatt is not the only focus for expansion, as a third and larger unit has been acquired at Oxford’s Covered Market alongside the two small units where they operate Teardrop bar and a deli including boutique wines. The former Nash’s bakery outlet, which closed on June 5, will be turned into a pizza shop depending on planning permission, to support the Sartorelli’s pizza brand that has been established as a separate company. Wood-fired pizzas have proved very popular at New Yatt for takeaway during lockdowns (Thursdays to Sundays, 5pm-10pm), keeping to the simple formula of three basic pizzas (marguerita, pepperoni and alici, all £5) plus a range of extra toppings (50p).

“It may sound strange to start something in these difficult times, but that is the whole point,” say the couple. “Sartorelli’s team is made up of members of our local community who have suddenly became ‘available’ – the company is owned by its team, with all profits shared fairly and equally.”

Ten people are now employed, with Church Hanbrewery having expanded rapidly since it started in the couple’s home in Church Hanborough, followed by the move to New Yatt and opening of Teardrop. It is known for its unusual bottled and keg beers, but a couple of cask ales are usually available at Teardrop and Cask Ale Day was another step in this direction. The core range includes beers such as Ale X (an IPA), Bluenette (honey and oatmeal porter), Mat Black (black IPA) and Red Beetter (a bitter with a hint of beetroot).

Luciana Gyuricza at Teardrop — soon there will be Sartorelli’s pizzas next door

Luciana said she was excited at the prospect of opening Sartorelli’s in the heart of Oxford, hopefully by late summer. “It’s really scary having to turn people away from Teardrop because of a lack of seating, but this will help,” she said. “We plan to be open until about 7pm so that people can come in after work, but we don’t want to be here any later although plans for the market generally include late opening. People can have their first drink and a pizza here, and can then move on.”

Tap Social Movement has plans to open a bar in the Covered Market, depending on how the city council’s plans take shape, and would also managed a performance space in the centre of the market. It would take over premises previously run by a butcher in another example of how the character of the market is changing away from traditional food shops.