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A series of thoughts and musings from Castle Rockians during the COVID-19 crisis.



31.03.2020 – Newark, UK


by Rosie Downing


I miss…

Grinding the coffee before we open. Taking a few minutes of calm before the day begins, with a slice of cornflake tart from the bakery over the road. Writing the list of things to be achieved with my team. All the familiar faces that visit us throughout the day. Recommending beers to people who have trusted my choices for years, especially when I get it right. Hosting the quiz and raising money for local charities. Laughing – really laughing – with the customers we truly consider friends. Clearing clean plates from happy faces who have enjoyed a meal with their families. The beer at the end of the night when we are tired and relieved to have achieved the day’s goals. Wishing I could go home.

I appreciate…

The community effort we are seeing to keep our people safe. My health. My team, who have adapted and adjusted their daily goals to simply staying in touch and keeping each other smiling. My husband, whose pub is also closed, who understands. The UK brewing community, who are taking extraordinary leaps to keep surviving and thriving during this uncertain time. Castle Rock Brewery, made up of individuals who are providing daily reassurance for us all.

I look forward to…

The first day back. The party we are already planning to throw. Listening to live music again – in the flesh. A pub crawl with my husband. Group hugs. Being busy. Days out. Brunch with friends at a local café. Hand-drawn cask ale – serving it and drinking it. Looking back on this one day and being amazed at what we overcame.


25.03.20 – Notts, UK


by Liv Auckland


It’s Wednesday 25th. The pubs have been closed for 4 days and counting, and the country has been lockdown for less than 48 hours. Spring sunshine is warming my legs, my youngest [cat] is snoozing on the floor beside me, the daffodils have bloomed, and there’s too much tea in my belly.

Life feels both surreal and completely normal.

I’m at an old writing desk that we found in a Castle Rock pub, left behind by the previous owners. At the time of discovery, it was almost hidden among dust sheets and cups of builder’s tea. Within a few hours, the desk had found a new home and was being lovingly spruced. It’s a happy and familiar spot, despite being slightly too low and cramped.

I’ve already had a video chat with my frolleagues this morning. Was I wearing pyjama bottoms still? Sure. Do I really need to put jeans on to feel like I’m seizing the day? I’m not convinced. It occurs to me now that they could have been starkers from the waist down, for all I know. I miss crying with laughter with them.

There’s a racket going on nearby. At the moment, my background noise is the screeches and squeals of the neighbour’s kids, instead of the clanking and clinking of the brewery. Usually, at least once a day, there is an almighty bang and the floor shakes beneath my feet. The kids, at least, don’t seem to be causing such quakes.

Each day, I have dropped my partner at the Canalhouse – the pub we met in and the pub he now manages. Normal. Yet, of course, the pub isn’t open. He’s been there to clean lines, sort stock, make sure the pub is in tip top shape for whenever we get to re-open. It’s strange to think of him there, on his own, doing the most thorough “clean down” of his career. Now though, after the lockdown, we’re both at home. I don’t think he knows what to do.

Castle Rock is in the 365-day 24-hour business. As the doors to the pubs are locked up tight, the brewery team is waking up ready for a new day. As the gates to the brewery close, bar staff arrive at their respective pubs for the late shift. Somewhere in between, the rest of us come and go. But collectively, we don’t stop.

The thing is, having a proper break could do us all some good. As individuals, some of us haven’t had a chance to decompress for years. Heck, many have been leading this lifestyle for decades. Maybe we can view this as the opportunity we’ve never had before; a chance to really rest and recuperate. (I, for one, have grand ideas of yoga and meditation in the garden each morning.) However hard it is, painful it is, for some of us to not work, maybe this is how we create the future we want. Not just as individuals, but as a business, too.

The last few weeks have brought the Castle Rock family together in a way I’ve never seen before. It could just be the isolation starting to kick in, but I’m hopeful about what’s on the horizon for us.

Be brave.


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