Crowd sourcing. These days it seems to be being used to fund all sorts of ventures, and most recently is helping wannabe full time breweries realise their dreams.
James Yeomans, founder of new start up Hop Stuff is one such brewer. Based in Woolwich and with a nod to local history and a passion for brewing great new beers, Hop Stuff starting producing their first batches in September and had their official launch party last Friday.
We featured an interview with James back in episode 45 which was recorded shortly after he achieving his Crowdcube target and this week we grabbed another of the show’s recent guests, Mark Berry and we trundled off to Woolwich to visit James at the new brewery for a catch up and for a taste of what’s brewing…
On arrival at the brewery it’s clear to see that Hop Stuff have only just moved in and clearly made it a priority to start brewing over anything else as the sign on the door still says that we are entering a printers – we are met by Barley the brew dog (yes we did just do that) who has only been with James for a matter of days but who already seems to be very at home at the brewery.
James tells us how it’s quite literally been non-stop brewing since moving into the premises and although he’s now working very long hours, its a life that he is more than pleased to have traded for his former life as a city boy. Hop Stuff are a fairly small set up (10 bbl system, 1630 litres) and are produced two staple beers as part of their range in ‘Fusilier’ (English bitter) and ‘Pale Ale’ (does what is says on the tin).
There is also ‘Renegade’ (IPA) and ‘Gunners’ (Porter), the latter of which was quietly fermenting away during our visit ready for a release in time for Christmas (look out for the take home variety which James has plans to put in champagne-sized bottles to encourage sharing). We gave the Gunner a try straight out of the FV and while it’s still got a way to go there’s already that malty, warming feel that you would expect from a good winter-warming porter.
There are big plans for the brewery – James has already identified a loft space that (license hearing allowing) will become a bar where he will be able to serve Hop Stuff beer as fresh as it comes and also hold events at the brewery. Currently occupying said loft space are two hop plants that presumably in the future will become the feature of a batch of beer. There was also some talk of adding a third FV and a smaller kit for experimentation, but for now James’ focus has been on getting his two staples to market and to build a customer base. His beers are already a feature of the local Dial Arch pub and there are plans to continue to supply the local scene in Woolwich, hopefully expanding to sales in what may become a rejuvenated Woolwich market.
Hop Stuff had their official launch last weekend which James recounts was a time when he can’t remember having ever drunk so much beer but all seems to be going well in Woolwich and there are exciting times ahead for the locals it would seem.
With that James grabs Barley and we head off to the Dial Arch to sample his wears. It’s obvious that James is still getting used to this lark as when the barmaid begins to tell him what his own beer tastes like, he rather coyly mentions that “yes, I know, it’s my beer”. So is the beer any good? Lets see…
Fusilier (4.3% ABV) – its a good old fashioned bitter, dark amber colour with a lovely malty and biscuty aroma. Subtle flavours throughout, very smooth and very, very easy to drink. This is truly a session beer and all three of us agree that ‘quaffable’ is the most apt term for this beer. Would happily give this 3/5.
Pale Ale (4.5% ABV) – not quite so pale in it’s colour, in fact a very similar colour as the Fusilier. It has a much sharper finish, with a lovely citrusy, sharp edge to it and a palate cleansing dry finish. Again, a really easy drinker and one that you could quite easily lose an afternoon with. Of the two, this was my preferred pint and easily a 3.5/5.
There are big things ahead for Hop Stuff, and we’re certainly looking forward to enjoying more of James’ beer in the future and to trying some of the specials that are planned to start coming out in bottles in the future.
Thanks to James (and Barley) for giving up some time to show us around, check www.hopstuffbrewery.wordpress.com for up to date information on what’s going on or follow them on Twitter (@hopstuffbrewery) or Facebook (@hopstufflondon).