This film is part of Free

Hadrian Brewery

Its Newcastle, where “beer drinking is almost the heritage of the region”, and an ex-security guard turns his brewing hobby into a business.

Documentary 1988 7 mins

From the collection of:

Logo for North East Film Archive


A story of a small local brewery making traditional beer starting up at the end of the 1980s in Newcastle, renowned for its love of beer. Despite the ultimate success of CAMRA in promoting real ale, the 1980s saw a decline in traditional beer sales, and the continued rise of lager. But Trevor and Angie Smith courageously try to buck the trend, and move away from the “hippie” image of real ale, with their Gladiator beer, brewed single-handedly by Trevor.

Hadrian brewery was founded in 1986, but after liquidation in 1997 its equipment was bought by Four Rivers Brewery, which then merged with Border brewery in 2000, becoming Hadrian & Border. They moved back to Hawick Crescent, home of the original Hadrian Brewery, before relocating to larger premises at Shelley Road in 2011. The Beer Orders, introduced in December 1989, gave a boost to independent brewing, but the Progressive Beer Duty of 2002 had a bigger impact, and, over the last few years, craft beer – in part dissociating itself from CAMRA’s idea of ‘real ale’ – has really taken off. The Society of Independent Brewers had just 20 microbrewers when it was established in 1980, but by 2016 it had 835.