This time last year, we were frantically trying to get the shop ready to open. We were barely eating or sleeping, working all the hours we could, in order to launch Vessel on 10th December 2016. It was the most stressful time of our whole lives, and we were completely exhausted.

It was totally worth it. Our opening day was a huge success – far beyond what we imagined it could be. And we haven’t looked back since.

It’s a complete cliché, but we can’t believe we have been open for a whole year, and are getting ready to celebrate our birthday this weekend. That opening day feels like yesterday.

On the other hand, we can barely remember what it was like before we had the shop – when we could go out any night we wanted, and go away for the weekend without a second thought. We’ve spent almost every day for the past year in the shop – even on the days we’ve been closed!

But we wouldn’t change our new routine for anything. We have absolutely loved this year, and taking the risk of opening our own business was absolutely the right decision.

We’ve been so pleased with the positive reception we’ve had, and by far our proudest achievement is gaining so many regular customers who come back week in week out. We’ve loved getting to know people, finding out what beers they like, and introducing people to new beer styles or breweries that they may not have tried before.

We’ve really enjoyed building relationships with other like-minded businesses, as shown by our collaboration with New Lion brewery, Maltings Taphouse and Hops & Crafts to make D.I.B.S. (Devon Independent Beer Shops).

We’ve also loved putting on events, including meet the brewer events with Verdant, Moonchild, Woodman’s, Northern Monk and Lost & Grounded, as well as beer and food matching meals with our friends at Hubbox, and our regular tasting events in the shop.

We’ve got loads more events planned for the New Year, including four in January alone!

When we have left the shop, we’ve managed to fit in a few beer festivals, including Hop City, Dark City, Verdant’s Little Summer Beer Bash, the Beavertown Extravaganza, Zwanze Day at Moor, and we were very flattered to be invited to host a tasting at the legendary Independent Manchester Beer Convention.

We’re planning some trips further afield next year, including trips to the US for each of our birthdays, so the shop may be shut for a couple of weeks here and there, but we will give you plenty of warning about this in advance.

And so to our birthday celebrations this weekend. We have a tap list lined up showcasing some of our favourite beers and breweries from our first year, as well as our delicious birthday beer – Vessel IPA – brewed with the brilliant Black Flag brewery. We’re super excited to have this in cans and on tap, and hope you all love it as much as we do. There will be offers on draught beer on Saturday 9th December, as well as giveaways throughout the day.

On Sunday 10th December, we will host a Super Sour Sunday tasting, with six extra special sour beers for £20. The usual Sour Sunday offer of take out prices to drink it on all sour beers in the fridges will also be on.

Finally, we just want to say a massive thank you to everyone who has supported us, and all our lovely customers for enjoying what we do. We hope you can make it down to celebrate with us this weekend.