We spend a moment with Greg of Weird Beard Brew Co. to talk history, mistakes and the future of WBBC. We hope you enjoy the interview and if there are any comments or questions you would like asked to future brewers, please let us know in the comments section below. Anyway on with the interview…
So, can you tell us how it all started for you?
It all started with a holiday to Canada and a rain storm that forced me to take shelter in a bar. In that bar I got a flight of Dogfish Head beers and I was hooked. I came back to London and could not find the kind of beers I was looking for. So started homebrewing to make my own, joined a hombrew club and got quite good at it. A few years later I was running a photography company (which was very seasonal) so had some spare time to devote to a project. I met Bryan (business partner) at a beer event at the Euston Tap and we realised we were both looking to start a brewery so decided to start together.
How many are in your team currently?
Including me and Bryan we have 8 full time and Chris who pops in 1 day a week.
Were there any mishaps / funny moments along the way leading to now?
There were many, but one early one springs to mind. The people who installed out fermenters made a mess of the chilling installation, our first two beers ended up getting a bit too warm (warm fermentation temp creates undesirable, unless you are brewing Belgian style, esters in the beer). A friendly brewer suggested that we close the fermenter to allow the CO2 released to increase the pressure and this may stop the yeast creating so many esters. This seemed to work form a taste point of view. When it came to dry hopping we released the pressure but did not decarbonate the beer. When you add 10Kg of hop pellets to carbonated beer it is something akin to adding a Mento to a bottle of coke and the beer fountained 10 feet into the air and all over the floor. We called that beer Miss the lights as it did (just) miss the lights.
What are the values of your brewery?
We strive to produce innovative and quality beers. Taste is key.
What made you decide on your bottle / label style and theme?
Bryan came up with the name and the logo, when we were homebrewers we did an event at the rake bar in London handing out samples. We were approached by Josh who writes for the Evening Brews and worked in graphic design at the time. He thought the brand had potential and offered to do something for us for free… We came up with a concept of Lup’in a Skull who would change appearance for each beer. A bit like Eddie in Iron Maiden album covers. Josh ran with this and once we saw the quality of the work we knew we had to pay him for it!
With that in mind what is your signature brew and what makes it stand out?
Tough question… Mariana Trench is out best seller. It is a super hoppy pale ale and tastes great and is very drinkable. However I think we do dark beers very well so you could make a case of Black Perle a sessionable coffee milk stout with a lot of body and flavour for the strength. From a personal point of view I still love a good lager. So Spreadsheet Ninja works for me.
What do you love about brewing and the industry in general?
Many things not least the Beer! I love the comradery between the brewers, the collaborations, the events and festivals… which leads onto the next question.
Are you attending any festivals in the coming months?
Yes many! <Scurries off to look at the Diary> Thirsty fest in Cambridge, LCBF, Cardiff Brew Fest, Leeds International and a couple of overseas, Lervig Festival in Norway and Shelton Brothers in the USA. Hopefully we will get an invite to another one or two before the end of the year.
What are your plans for the future and where do you think the industry is headed?
We are in a position where we have just about filled our current space so expansion will be difficult without a 3rd unit. We are currently looking to see if one will become available but our current focus is to continue to churn out tasty and consistent beers. The industry as a whole is in an interesting place right now. The UK is way behind the US on quality control at the moment and this will have to improve. Those that don’t will probably fall by the wayside. There will be more consolidation with big breweries buying smaller craft breweries. Some of the smaller breweries will become really rather big… Lots of beer will be consumed and the numbers of people consuming craft beer will increase.
Finally, what is the best way for our readers to pick up a bottle or two?
Best bet for bottles it go to our website www.weirdbeardbrewco.com and look at the Beer locator to get some local or online stockists. You could also follow us on Twitter or Facebook for announcements of our occasional opendays.
A little more about Weird Beard Brew Co from the team themselves:
Born kicking, screaming and moshing into the London beer scene in early 2013, Weird Beard Brew Co don’t believe in being stereotyped. We love upfront, in-your-face, hop-focused beers, along with classic styles. We want our beer to satisfy, enthuse and be enjoyed by whoever the drinker, especially ourselves. Proudly experimental and happily non-conformist, our varied full flavoured range of core and occasional beer is supplemented with a large number of specials and one-offs that allow us to push our creative boundaries. You will find us in bottle shops, on cask in real ale pubs and in the best bars around the globe. No gimmicks, no crap and never knowingly under hopped means you get great hand-crafted beer brewed in West London.