A low-alcohol beer brand is going from strength to strength as more young people snub boozing - and thanks to a local celebrity investor.

Shandy Shack was founded by Magdalen College schoolfriends Ed Stapleton and Tom Stevens with Fred Gleadowe in 2018 as a pop-up bar concept to be toured around festivals.

Ed said: “We developed a love of shandy in the summer of 2018 so we built a bar and started serving other people’s beers as shandies at festivals and events. And it turned out lots of people loved it as much as we did."

In 2019, having quit their jobs, they tried their hand at brewing their own brand and after many, many attempts their first IPA Shandy was born.

They now produce a range of four canned shandies made from a mixture of craft beers mixed with good quality sodas with all of them 2 to 3 per cent alcohol.

In 2020 the trio won a lucrative deal to have their drinks sold at Sainsbury’s.

Part of their success they believe is due to the growing trend among young people not to drink as heavily as their parents’ generation.

He said: “We're on a mission to really enable moderation without compromise. We are trying to find an exciting way for people to cut down by using flavours such as elderflower and rhubarb.

“It’s a well publicized trend.

“And shandy is drunk by grannies in care homes and students and people at uni because it’s low alcohol, gluten-free and vegan. It’s a good gateway to moderate drinking.”

Ed, 30, a former management consultant, added: “I do drink alcohol but I try to moderate my drinking although I do have my lapses.

“The other two were medical doctors and I was a management consultant and we all had experience of alcohol being misused on a personal or professional level.

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“We joke that Tom left medicine to work with another kind of medicine."

Since its launch Shandy Shack's products have won two Great Taste awards and received high praise in national media.

The company has also recently gained a local celebrity investor in Jeremy Clarkson’s partner Lisa Hogan.

It started working with Diddly Squat Farm Shop in 2022, producing a co-branded range of shandies and even featuring briefly in Clarkson's Farm Season 2.

Ed said: “We were doing some brewing with Cotswold Brew Co which now makes Hawkstone. We went to the Hawkstone launch event and people we know there were working with Jeremy and Lisa.

“Lisa fell in love with our elderflower lager and they wanted to sell it at Diddly Squat, using their own hand-picked elderflowers.

“We have a really good relationship with Diddly Squat. They get a bad rap but this is a really good example of Diddly Squat getting involved in the local economy in a positive way."

The business is still headquartered in Bampton although operated mostly remotely and the co-owners say Oxfordshire is their spiritual home.

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This summer they will be selling shandy at plenty of local events, including Wychwood Festival and Blenheim Food Festival.

The shandies will also be available in up to 250 Sainsbury’s stores from the end of March including Heyford Hill, Witney, Kidlington and Banbury.

"We want to thank the people of Oxfordshire for the support that they have continued to give us ever since we started out and we were selling door to door during Covid," said Ed.


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This story was written by Miranda Norris, she joined the team in 2021 and covers news across Oxfordshire as well as news from Witney.

Get in touch with her by emailing: Miranda.Norris@newsquest.co.uk. Or find her on Twitter: @Mirandajnorris

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