TWO friends from school are hoping to reinvent the shandy by making it fly off supermarket shelves.

Former Magdalen College School pupils Ed Stapleton and Tom Stevens joined up with Fred Gleadowe and started Shandy Shack together in the summer of 2018.

From working at events and selling products from a pop-up bar, the trio are now looking forward to their drinks being sold at Sainsbury’s.

Mr Stapleton recently left his job in management consultancy to focus on the business full-time, with its headquarters in Bampton.

He said: “In the summer of 2018, we all developed this love for shandy, it was totally ridiculous and not the most normal drink for young men.

“We all became motivated to turn a passion for shandy into an actual business.

“We did events with a pop-up bar and ended up launching our IPA shandy in March 2019.

“From April, we toured a lot of the south of England selling the IPA and guest shandies, and just tried to promote ourselves as much as possible.

“We were gearing up to do it all over again this summer until the pandemic happened.”

Covid-19 led the trio to turn to retail, selling bottles and cans and delivering orders to people in Oxfordshire.

“People loved it and there was a huge word of mouth effect, with people wanting to support us as a local business,” said Mr Stapleton.

The success in retail led to Sainsbury’s making contact in June, having previously met the supermarket’s ‘future brands’ team at events.

“We weren’t ready before but the retail allowed us to be this time,” said Mr Stapleton.

“From June, we’ve rebranded the company and got new stock with new labels – we’ve also issued our second shandy, an elderflower lager top.

“We’re trying to reinvent the shandy in many ways, we’re definitely trying to open up a new market and take this drink which had its heyday in the 1970s and 1980s, and take it into the craft beer age.

“It’s also something that’s lower in alcohol, gluten-free and vegan-friendly so fits well for the modern consumer.”

Sainsbury’s will be stocking both the IPA shandy and elderflower variant from November 8 for 14 weeks, with Mr Stapleton saying the move is a major milestone for the business.

“It’s somewhere close to make or break for us, we did this to get on supermarket shelves so we’re really keen to make it work.

“Long-term if this is successful, then generally you can get listed in double the number of stores and move into the beer, wines and spirits section, from the ‘taste of the future’ one.

“We’d look to grow with Sainsbury’s but we would also like to stock elsewhere, and even in bars and restaurants.”

Perhaps a lucky omen for the trio, Mr Stapleton revealed he has a family history in the brewing business.

“I have a bit of a background in all this, my grandad worked for beer brands in Nigeria and Ghana so there’s a bit of a heritage in the brewing industry,” he said.

The shandies will be available in 70 Sainsbury’s stores, including in Kidlington, Littlemore and Witney.