Back In The Day | Ferment Magazine
Sarah Sinclair – 28 August 2021
Sarah Sinclair explores how 3 new breweries have set up shop today facing a very different set of challenges to the UK beer scene of 10 years ago
In many ways, being a craft brewer is like being the hero of a Greek tragedy. There’s a strictly prescribed, formal journey these characters must undertake, from disillusionment with an existing career, to brewing 30-litre batches in their garage as a means of escape.
An act of extreme faith and vision propels our hero into the heady days of a new commercial brewery (in which they must complete legendary trials: finding a distributor, losing an entire batch to an unreliable mobile canning line etc). Even as they ride high on a wave of hype juice, we the audience are looking out for the fatal flaw that will perhaps bring them low in Act 3 (and we’ve seen plenty of those lately).
It’s a cliché, but for the very good reason that a great, great many craft brewers started out exactly this way, with nothing but a tiny, ramshackle brew kit and a surplus of self-belief. But with the UK beer industry firmly on the journey from adolescence to maturity, are the days of noble homebrew hero giving way to a new wave of brewery start-ups, backed by vast commercial experience and investment that reflects their ambition?
Nowadays the words ‘IPA’ and ‘brewpub’ are familiar terms to even the youngest of discerning drinkers. In an industry that has gone from 747 breweries in 2011 to 1816 today, it’s fair to say the landscape has fundamentally changed for new breweries looking for customers.
Miranda Hudson of Duration Brewing, who commissioned the brewery’s own kit in 2019, and says:
“I think for a home brewer garage project, upscaling into a brewery is going to be hard in places where there’s already an established presence for craft beer, because you’re going to be competing on a different level. I feel like those kinds of days are probably a little numbered.
“I have so much admiration for Mike at Double Barreled, Andy at Elusive and damn even Evin at The Kernel, who established their companies this way. My hunch is the competition is getting stiff and while the sector is still incredibly experimental, simply learning on the job at the expense of the product won’t really fly in today’s market.”
“It’s really helpful now to have an informed and educated beer drinker, they’ve been to a beer festival and they probably have got an established brewery and taproom within a ten-mile radius of where they live and so it’s just more commonly what people do.”
Read the full article here.