Veterans Brewing? Pretty Decent…
When a business does something unusual, like give their profits to good causes, they are often worth taking note of. When the business is a brewer then we want to take a bit of notice and get to know these folk a little.
Veterans Brewing, a Lanarkshire based enterprise, is the brainchild of two ex-soldiers. Tommy Watt and Alex McDivitt designed the company with the specific aim of supporting veterans, both via direct employment at the brewery and their partner charity ‘Blind Veterans UK.’
Currently, they brew two cask beers. .303 is a 4.1% golden ale and Tracer is a 4.2% amber ale, they also have an interesting looking pipeline and some careful planning going on for both beers and brewery.
Bottled versions of both products became available in July this year, initially proposed as bottle conditioned they settled on bright beer which it was felt would appeal to a broader audience.
There is a dark ale called S10 (S10 being a respirator – gas mask – which is black) which has been market tested and will be available for winter and an IPA which is being fine tuned currently and doesn’t yet have a name.
The kit is a five barrel plant and they currently brew three or four times a week depending on demand and the future, given their plans, should be quite something. Over to Doug at Veterans Brewing for his view of where they are and where they’re heading:
“We are currently throughout the Central belt of Scotland from Helensburgh in the West, near the HMNB Clyde submarine base, where our beers prove popular with the Jacks (Navy) and Booties (Marines) to Anstruther in the East, with all points in between covered including the highest pub in Scotland the Wanlockhead Inn.
We also have a strong presence on the Isle of Mull where Tommy (head brewer) is originally from.
Our first franchise was in Sussex with Will, a former infantryman in the Prince of Wales Royal Regiment, and we have just recently launched in Lincolnshire with Stu who is a veteran of the Army Air Corps.
We are in the process of launching further franchises in Cumbria and Manchester with the beer being available in both these markets.
We are always looking for veterans from different areas who may be interested in becoming involved with Veterans Brewing and bringing the beer to their area.
Negotiations are ongoing with corporate partners to allow us to offer the Beers nationwide through multiple outlets.”
Pretty Decent Beer Company
Over at Pretty Decent Beer Company in the Forest Gate area of London they started out with the simple aim of making “the best beer we could and to do some decent things with the money spent drinking it” which is definitely an unusual approach to business but does seem like a very decent thing to do.
Their stated aim, beer wise, is to produce beers that are ‘sessionable and accessible’ which is what the core range aspires to be. In a beer world where brewers’ are working hard to find ever-more funky names for their products it’s refreshing to find a brewer sticking to their core values.
Pretty Decent currently produce an American IPA at 5.5%, an American Pale at 4.5%, a Session IPA at 4.8%, a Transatlantic Pale at 4.7% and an Oatmeal Stout at 4%.
They also brew a range of specials, like a recent beer made with ingredients from New Zealand, and one off collaborations with local businesses.
We would usually try and tease out some background information but James is so eloquent on the subject that we can very safely leave it to him this time:
“My background is in the charity sector, and I also loved drinking beer. Having grown up in West Kent, my first beers were Harvey’s Sussex Best and similar brews. That progressed when moving to London around 2011 and I was introduced by my older brother Matt to a much wider range of Amercian style beers. I still remember the first beer like this I drank being Bristol Beer Factory’s Southville Hop and I haven’t looked back since!
I very quickly took to brewing in my kitchen, with the predictable results, but after a few years of disciplined recipe development something quite promising started to come out around 2015. I started to develop some core ideas for a range of beers and these were repeatedly tested with friends. At this time I was still working in the charity sector (I still try to now where time allows) but also working a day a week for a brewery in South London.
In early 2017 we found premises in Forest Gate, East London (I live in the area) and opened our doors for the first time in mid May that year! We were super small at this stage, our understanding was that we were the smallest commercial brewery in London, producing just 300L per week.
We sold primarily through our taproom and locally and had a clear aim from the start, to produce pretty decent beer and do something pretty decent with the money people spend on it, so we partnered with a charity called Pump Aid who provide access to clean water in Malawi.
Coming from a background in the charity sector I was keen to ensure that we took a stand on this from day one as you often hear about organisations donating a hundred percent of profits but what does this mean? We wanted to ensure that, from day one, someone else was seeing a benefit from our brewing so 15p from every beer sold, taproom or wholesale, goes to Pump Aid.
At the start we had just two beers and the whole project was run myself and my wife, and co-founder, Sarah.
Since then we have grown the range to five core beers, with seasonal specials and one off collaborations being brewed regularly with local businesses. We’ve now got 4 of us on board, doubling the team size, but it’s still very hands on.
We got to a stage very quickly where we were not able to brew enough beer on our 300L kit and so in April this year we installed a 6BBL brewhouse, allowing us to quadruple our capacity overnight. This has meant we have been able to expand our offering in our taproom, as well as look to start growing the wholesale offering further.
Our aim with the project is to make beer, but also to ensure we use beer to point to things that are bigger than us. That’s situations such as water poverty, but also to aspects a little more locally such as ensuring we’re a business that ensures London Living Wage for everyone.
We are always looking to be inclusive and work with people to take on board feedback and ideas to ensure that we’re doing everything we can to be a progressive, ethical company that can use beer to sit down with people and start a positive conversation!“
Brilliant people doing brilliant things and making brilliant beers in the process. What’s not to like there? Brilliant.
The brewery tap at Forest Gate is open Thursday and Friday 5-11pm, Saturday 2-11pm and Sunday 1-7pm.