INDEPENDENT Alton business Ten Tun Tap House is ramping up preparations to open its doors again to customers – after spending lockdown adjusting to Covid-19 measures and providing a delivery service.

The craft beer industry has grown hugely in the past decade and with competition higher than ever, new businesses entering the market are looking for ways to differentiate.

Jason Delaney, the sole owner of Ten Tun Tap House, worked in IT sales and consultancy for 15 years, before quitting to become a chef and chase his dream of working in the food industry.

After spending three years in the industry, where he also served a stint co-running a barbecue catering business, Jason devised a plan for the long term and is now trying to build his own modern, vibrant brewing craft beer business from scratch.

Earlier this year, he decided to buy the old Cellar Vie bar on the Market Square of his home town and spent six weeks transforming the premises to the Ten Tun Tap House, opening on March 18 – just days before lockdown.

The Tap House offers a range of beer, wines, spirits and snacks from several independent brewers – with many vegan and gluten-free options.

As a new business, Jason needed to adapt quickly to the lockdown restrictions that have inevitably hampered businesses over the past few months.

With his supportive wife Trish, the duo drew up a plan to temporarily transform the business to a home-delivery service, enabling customers to get their beer fix without the risk of infection via contact-free delivery.

Jason said: “The switch to deliveries was reasonably easy – I’m reasonably comfortable with technology so building the website with e-commerce was okay.

“My friend put me in touch with Mr Whitehead’s cider in Alton, which supplies our containers and occasional cider.

“It’s great to keep the whole thing as local as possible.

“Being such a young business, the financial support was very limited, which was another incentive to make it work!

“Without the Small Business Rates Relief grant, we would have struggled, so I should also thank Rishi Sunak.

“All deliveries were made by myself. I employed my friend Mikey who was out of work and he would prepare the orders while I drove around delivering – it was actually quite fun!

“My wife works from home and she joins me from time to time as well, which gives her a welcome change in scenery.”

The former chef has numerous aims for his business, supporting breweries and doing his bit for the environment.

“Aside from giving people somewhere vibrant and progressive to socialise, my intention for the bar is to show off the amazing breweries around the UK.

“I’m regularly stocking beer from breweries in Finchampstead, Southampton, Gosport, Reading and across London.

“This is very much an underground scene that is growing quite rapidly – and it’s great to see the nation invest a lot of interest in brewing, making a change from the mass-produced beers we’re getting tired of.”

Jason also ensures his crisps come in non-plastic bags, with the premises’ energy provider being 100 per cent renewable.

In addition, key workers have been offered a discount on home delivery during lockdown.

And Jason has plans for a new ‘community tap’ initiative, donating a percentage of money made from every pint sold to a local cause.

He continued: “The people of Alton, Four Marks and surrounding towns have been amazing in their support.

“Enthusiasm for quality beer is growing in the area and when you’re not allowed out, it’s a very accessible luxury.

“I am extremely grateful for that support and hope to see them in the bar soon as we open the doors from Saturday.”

The bar will play music from all genres – and also aims to introduce vinyl nights, with the possibility of starting stand-up comedy nights when Covid-19 rules allow it.

Ten Tun Tap House’s delivery service will end on Friday, with the pub reopening its doors the following day.

Tables can be reserved for up to two and a half hours online at between 4pm and 10pm from Monday to Thursday, 4pm to 11pm on Friday, 2pm to 11pm on Saturday and 1pm to 6pm on Sunday.