Beavertown growing up while still mixing it up

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There’s an underlying theme at Beavertown brewery in North London – a keen appetite to mix things up. This includes lots of cross fertilisation of ideas through collaboration with other brewers, hosting massively successful events that bring the beer community together, and more recently a mixing of cultures in its fledgling barrel-ageing programme.

This thinking starts at the top with Logan Plant, founder of Beavertown, who created the brewery a mere four years ago when it was housed in Duke’s Brew & Que bar/restaurant down the road in Hackney.

Today the new kit sits on an industrial estate and production is heading towards 30-35,000 hl of beer for the year, which will take it to near its capacity in what seems like no time. This is the rapid pace of growth it is experiencing and is prompting investigations into where the brewery goes next.

“In the next two months we’ll hit capacity – with 15-16 brews a week. I’d like to sit here for a bit but we’ve got to plan for something else. We’re a part of the community here, part of Tottenham, and would love to stay in the borough. But we could go somewhere and create Beaverworld!” suggests Plant.

What these moves require is cash and to date he says the move from Dukes, along with the expansion in capacity at the present site, have been “handled the best way we could – with banks loans and personal money”.

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He’s clearly thinking of the next step: “We’ll need to raise money. At the moment it’s just me. I worry about it because it’s about working with the right people. When you’re working with people with finance backgrounds then you have to hope it will [ultimately] make your product better.”

Although Plant says he hopes the likes of Camden Town and Meantime selling to “bigger monsters” will lead to craft beer being taken on to the next level as drinkers potentially move from “Heineken to Hells” he clearly has reservations about how consolidation in the industry will affect craft brewers and the prospect of them losing the integrity that makes them special.

Don’t therefore expect a big deal to be done at Beavertown anytime soon because for now he says: “I’ll be driving this company and my heartbeat will be in it. We’ll be keeping it tight.”

In the here and now Plant is looking to further develop Beavertown’s distribution through its own channels. As well as looking for another bar, which he would like to be a “stripped down version of Duke’s, with more of a bar area”, the brewery’s Tap Room is also in need of change in order to accommodate the growing number of drinkers making the trek to Tottenham on Saturday afternoons.

“The tap room is all I wanted it to be – a place to meet people, let them feel the process and bring the beer to life. We created an environment we liked and hopefully people would also like it,” he says, now knowing full well that they like it rather a lot. With 300 to 500 people typically visiting on a regular Saturday while 600-700 attended for the launch of the annual blood orange beer Bloody Ell recently.

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With these numbers he says the Tap Room will have to be taken out of the brewery and into the yard although the format of the physical structure needed has not yet been sorted following the first attempt – comprising two containers – was thwarted by the industrial estate’s owners.

The typical Saturdays are nothing compared with the brewery’s fourth birthday celebrations in February. Such was the appetite for the event – involving a festival with beers from some of Europe’s finest brewers – that thousands made the journey to North London. It was a terrific collaborative creation but the brewery struggled under the huge numbers.

By not charging for entry or ticketing the event in any way it showed the all-embracing, good hearted nature of Logan and Beavertown but the reality was the popularity of the event means that changes will have to be made in the future for these events and for the Tap Room too.

“Maybe we were naive but we’re also massively proud of what we did. Brewers all came together and friendships were created. We’re seeing the [strong] appetite people have for the beers when we open the gates,” he says.

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Tickets will certainly be employed when Beavertown starts releasing the beers from its 18 months of labour and experimentation involving its barrel-ageing programme. There will be a core range under the Tempus name and various one-offs. The limited quantities of some of the beers will involve ticketed events at the brewery.

There is excitement at the brewery for what Plant says is: “A decade-long experiment. We’re educating ourselves and notating everything. We’re gaining knowledge of yeasts, bacteria and different woods. The consistency will be tough but there will be great flavours.

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The first beers have been Sour Power – mixed fermentation red ale aged 18 months in Burgundy barrels on redcurrants and sour cherries – and the Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde collaboration with To ØL of Copenhagen comprising a Muscat barrel-aged bretted gooseberry Belgian Pale and an Imperial Stout aged in Speyside whisky casks.

This collaborative approach, desire to mix things up, and an appetite for constant evolvement, very much captures the ethos of Plant and Beavertown right now. Let’s hope they continue on this journey and justify their position as a standard bearer of craft beer.

Glynn Davis, editor, Beer Insider