A roundup from our first event at SWG3, Glasgow
Here at BrewDog, we love meeting different brewers and listening to their stories; whether rock and roll, or kitchen sink, no two are the same. Taking the time to understand the philosophy of the man or woman who makes the beer you drink gives you a far greater appreciation of that particular brewery. With that in mind, last Saturday we hosted 'BrewDog Presents...', bringing to Glasgow four of the most up to the minute beer makers in the UK: Tempest, Magic Rock, Brew By Numbers and Beavertown. We also had some epic tunes, whiskey and food to go alongside, naturally!
Whilst their beers went on the bar, the brewers from each took a turn on a spotlit side-stage, taking the floor to reveal their backstories, plans for the future, and then answering questions from the packed gallery of beer fans. As you'd expect, each talk was different, yet each had the thread of great beermaking stitching them together. By their very nature, brewers are never short of a story or two, and when on stage behind a microphone, often the best way to present them is simply to let them present themselves...
Tempest Brewing Co
Gavin Meiklejohn (founder)
"I started because I was frustrated by the beers that I couldn't buy, really. I'm a chef, by trade. I used to stand at the pass and look at everything that went out, and think 'is that the best I can do?'. I think that has really affected the way I make beer. The chef in me always thinks of seasonality, for one. Likewise, in the kitchen I used to make everything on the premises - now I would never have someone else bottling my beer. I also use absolutely the best ingredients I can, as well. Never put out anything you're not 100% happy with."
"We're about to push the button on a new brewery space, near Melrose, which will be ten times the size in terms of room. At the moment, it's not much fun, to be honest. We need that increased capacity to do the beers we want - I love concept beers - and things like Red Eye Flight, which is awesome, yet we can only brew it three times a year. So it can't come soon enough. Within the year we'll go from employing four people to twelve. But we'll still be a nose to tail brewery at heart."
Magic Rock Brewing Co
Stuart Ross (head brewer)
"Brewing on the big kit at Magic Rock is the only thing I'm good at. I've only ever homebrewed twice, and both times it was awful. I was working at a brewery in San Diego when Richard Burhouse [Magic Rock founder] asked me to be involved. We both love hops. In fact, our core beers are all IPA's - we have one at session strength, a red IPA, one medium strength, and two strong IPA's. We make High Wire and Cannonball once a week - I want to make High Wire as good as I can get it, every time."
"Our new brewery site is great, it's 15,000 square feet. Once we get the roof sorted, everything else should go in. We're getting a bottling line - we tried contract bottling, but it's not as good - not at all. So we hand-bottle everything, for now. What am I working on next? A Vienna IPA, which I've had in my head for about three years. I'm very much not a beer geek. I went to BrewDog Shepherd's Bush and drank Dead Pony Club all night. There are forty beers on there, but I didn't want to try something different, just in case it wasn't as good."
Brew By Numbers
Dave Seymour (co-founder)
"When I came back to the UK from New Zealand I applied for a job with each of the ten breweries that were in London at the time. They all turned me down. So I started home brewing, and took it to bars to see what they thought. I managed to get a brewery eventually, with Tom. Our kit is second-hand, vessels bought and re-worked from a dairy. Our cold liquor tank has the hot liquor tank above it, for example - it's the same vessel, cut in half. Nothing we have is custom-made."
"Our biggest influence is global beer. Our flagship is the 01 Saison, for example. In our naming convention, the first number catalogues the style, the second the recipe - we wanted something that people could see from the far side of the bar. We've been going a year, and are still growing into our capacity - but we want to look to boost the profile of styles from around Europe. We started looking at setting up in Battersea, but ended up in Bermondsey, because of the sense of community there. Everyone's taking influence from everyone else."
James Rylance (lead brewer)
Nick Dwyer (art director)
"We make beers that are hop driven, and yeast driven. In fact, our first album was about hops, which we've done. It took eighteen months to get right. Now we can move on to our second album, about yeast, and the weirder shit. We want our beers to engage multiple people, and we use American hops because they are so accessible. My favourite, for instance, is Columbus - it's like onions, you can add it to anything. Like Gavin at Tempest, we're also massively interested in seasonality."
"We moved from Dukes to Hackney Wick, and we're moving again to Tottenham Hale. But we'll still keep our 4bbl test kit, for experiments. It's our think-tank. That's the other thing that gets us going - collaboration. You drink five or six beers from five or six breweries, and each involves five or six different people. It's great. What is craft beer? It's people taking a stance. Drinking things made by people they are aware of. It's drinkers spending their £3/£4 on something that engages them, something that makes them stop and think."
Were you there? Tell us what you thought of the event!