We spend a moment with Adam Henderson of Neon Raptor Brewing Company to talk history, values and the future of Neon Raptor. As always, we hope you enjoy the interview.
So, can you tell us how it all started for you?
It started a few years ago with a friend by brewing some super small batches on the kitchen hob with a Wilko’s stock pot, some garden hose and a copper pipe (yes, pretty budge setup – see pic). However, they actually turned out pretty awesome so we decided to see how it matched up against the other homebrewers by entering it into a competition – The Brewdog Nottingham homebrew contest 2015. The beer which we entered ended up winning and gave us the encouragement we needed to give brewing a go for real.
How many are in your team currently?
Currently it is just me on my tod but I do get a lot of help and support from people around me, which is most appreciated.
Were there any mishaps / funny moments along the way leading to now?
Plenty, not sure I have even done a brew yet where there hasn’t been an issue! Some examples are the Hot Liquor Tank (HLT) tripping out in the night so there is no hot water to brew with, the mash tun false bottom getting clogged stopping me getting the wort out, the hop filter in the kettle clogging up so I can’t get the beer out and through the heat exchanger (probably my fault for putting too many hops in to be fair – can you put in too many hops?), pumps breaking, etc. etc. I also manged to cut my hand pretty bad on shortening a hose which I now have a nice scar for J
What are the values of your brewery?
Top quality beer. I learn new things about brewing and beer every day so I use this to improve all the time.
What made you decide on your bottle / label style and theme?
I’m a big fan of 80s glam rock so I wanted to look pretty retro. The artwork actually came out of me just me playing around with some concepts. I sent some basic designs out to a load of friends to get some feedback and it was pretty much unanimous that everyone liked the neon bulb/sign thing – so I went with it.
With that in mind what is your signature brew and what makes it stand out?
I wouldn’t say I have a signature brew at the minute. I’m still really new to the industry and haven’t had a hop contract until this harvest. It makes I difficult to brew the same thing (which isn’t a bad thing) as you don’t know what you can get hold of. My best selling one is “Hello Operator” a blueberry Blonde Ale. I guess it does best as it’s a neutral style which appeals to most people who like beer. Note that it is not actually blonde due to the blueberry, but it was before I put it in! However, my favourite beer is “Endangered” a Bourbon, Oak and Vanilla Porter. It was the first commercial beer I did and is a newer, better version of the homebrew beer which won the competition.
What do you love about brewing and the industry in general?
That people are incredibly friendly and helpfully. Much more so than they need to be. I like to be creative but at the same time pay attention to detail which suits brewing very well. I also really like beer which probably helps.
Are you attending any festivals in the coming months?
Nothing is planned in yet but I’m working on it!
What are your plans for the future and where do you think the industry is headed?
I plan to expand as soon as possible. I currently cuckoo brew on a small 2BBL plant but I feel like I am ready to grow so I am in the process of looking for somewhere bigger to continue. Ultimately I would like my own place to move it to the next level but Neon Raptor is still very much a part time project for me at the minute. I have been getting lots of good feedback and I’m moving in the right direction so hopefully I can make it happen soon.
I think the industry is growing incredibly fast, there are lots of small (relatively speaking) breweries getting bought out, which is a shame in one aspect, but it also exposes a lot of new people to the craft beer styles. Still only a very small percentage of beers sold are from small breweries.
In the UK, I feel like we are still a long way behind our friends over in the US, so lots more great beer still to come this side of the pond.
Are there any breweries that you admire for what they are producing?
Lots but I will only name a few and in no particular order. Hill Farmstead, 3 Floyds, Omnipollo, Westbrook, Angry Chair and Alpha State (a small UK brewery which I think is very good).
Finally, what is the best way for our readers to pick up a bottle or two?
Sadly, the bottles are all sold out more is planned in the very near future. There are general a few bars in the Derby/Nottingham area which have it on but due still being small you might have to hunt for it. For you beer geeks out there that should be no problem.
NEON RAPTOR IS ALL ABOUT PRODUCING FANTASTIC BEERS FOR EVERYONE TO ENJOY.
WE HAVE BEEN PRODUCING ON A SMALL SCALE SINCE APRIL 2016 AND HAVE A FEW DIFFERENT BEERS OUT THERE BUT ARE LOOKING TO MOVE INTO 2ND GEAR. THIS MEANS MORE BEER, BETTER BEER AND THE ABILITY TO REPRODUCE SOME OF OUR GREAT HOMEBREWS ON A BIG ENOUGH SCALE FOR YOU TO ENJOY WITH US!