A FAMILY brewery that began as a retirement hobby has grown into a thriving business bringing real ale and big savings to beer lovers.

The George Wright Brewing Company was set up 10 years ago when plant design engineer Keith Wright started up in Rainford.

For the past eight years the company has been producing and selling a wide range of fine quality beers and ales available in cask and bottle from what is thought to be the most advanced small brewery in the country.

The response from customers has been amazing since the brewery shop moved from the Diamond Business Park at Rainford to Cambridge Road, Newtown, St Helens.

“We had a shop at the brewery for 18 months but the problem was the brewery is only open Monday to Friday until 5pm which wasn’t practical for some customers,” said brewer Gary Wright, aged 34.

“It has been so popular. We didn’t realise we had so many beer lovers so we decided to look around for an empty building and found a former craft shop in Cambridge Road.”

The George Wright brewery follows that family tradition with Keith, aged 64, and his wife, Elaine, their son Gary and Keith’s brother Graham all involved.

The Rainford ale is available in outlets from Edinburgh to the South coast of England and the firm makes its own deliveries within a 50-mile radius of the brewery.

But the best bargains are at Cambridge Road, where those who become a member of the company’s beer club, for which membership is free, enjoy a 50 pence reduction on the price of a pint.

Bottled beer is available in two-litre bottles for the equivalent of £1.30 or £1.40 a pint depending on its strength.

Gary explained how the mild, bitter and IPA is brewery fresh when it goes on sale and is usually just a week old. The shop always has a choice of five different brews of its own plus 350 other different beers from the small breweries in the UK and Belgium.

Brewer Gary confided that, of all the brews on offer, their own 4.7 per cent Cheeky Pheasant is his personal favourite.