If things always went according to plan, this would be the blog post in which we looked back on our first year in business and reflected on how much we’ve learnt, how many steps forward, how many slips back, battles against red tape, new equipment and unfamiliar supply chains won and lost, etc. But…we quickly came to understand how rarely things go according to plan when you’re starting a small business built largely on passion and enthusiasm and somewhat less so on years of experience.
And yet, a year and half after our first brew we’ve survived and thrived and it feels time to take stock and reflect on the highlights of the journey so far. We’ve expanded, we’ve experimented, we’ve learned a lot and we’ve had the most incredible support from fellow beer enthusiasts, Brixton enthusiasts, friends, family and locals.
We probably knew we were on to something when we looked around at our first Open Day in October 2013, saw the queues out the door, the empties spilling out of the bins, Jez’s mum frantically trying to wash glasses quickly enough for the thirsty hordes, and realised that this was really happening. Something that had been so long in the planning, that seemed more than a few times like it might only ever remain one of those things that you talk about in a pub, but then life gets in the way and finally someone else opens a Brixton Brewery and all you can do is bore your friends and the barman about how it should have been you, was actually happening! People came! People drank our beer and said that they liked it! In fact, people drank all of our beer. By the end of the day, we were exhausted, proud and completely sold out.
Our first open day in October 2013.
Since then people haven’t stopped drinking our beers and we’ve expanded our capacity and our range. We’ve added new fermenters, taken over the arch next door, started a Saturday tap room and off-licence and built a great team of brewers and assistants. Our beers are travelling ever further afield, especially since the launch of our online shop. We started out with Electric IPA, Effra Ale and Reliance Pale Ale as our trusty trio of core beers, and fairly quickly added Windrush Stout and Atlantic APA. The latter really caught on among hop-heads, and has become one of our most popular brews. In the summer of 2014 we were pretty excited to be approached by the team from Wahaca to develop an exclusive beer for their DF/Mexico diner in Shoreditch. We came up with the crisp and hoppy Lúpulo Pale Ale, which is now also available at Wahaca’s Brixton branch. It’s another beer and relationship we’re extremely proud of.
We saw out 2014 in style with our special 100th brew release of the decadent Megawatt IIPA. Megawatt was so well-received and fun to brew that it will be a yearly seasonal release.
In the very early days, one visitor from east London said to us, “Brixton didn’t already have a brewery? If you stand still in Hackney, someone will build a brewery around you.” So in 2015, we’ll be working our arses off to keep up the momentum and remain a brewery that crafts quality beers and is a part of what makes London an amazing center of brewing and Brixton the crazy, eclectic, creative and all-around fantastic place that it is. Of all the things we’ve been doing in the past manic, exhilarating 18 months, we haven’t, and never will be, standing still.