I went up to visit the guys at Fownes Brewing Company, based in the Black Country, West Midlands. The boys have definitely been busy, brewing up a storm with their beers earning copious amount of awards and loyal fans along the way!
The brewery was conceived by brothers James and Tom Fownes back in late 2010…
James: “It all started, like the best things do, down the pub. After a number of pints the conversation moved to how thin and uninspiring the real ales were. What we should do, was open a Dwarfen brewery! The next morning it still seemed like a good idea despite never having brewed. But, being men of science, we started learning the craft in my kitchen using 30 litre buckets. Then moved onto 100 litre stock pots. Soon we realised, with the help of Mrs Fownes who was on maternity leave and wanting her house back, that we were gonna need somewhere bigger to brew!”
Then in early 2012, the lads then came across an opportunity at the Jolly Crispin Pub, just around the corner from James’ house.
James: “The landlord offered us his garage. We had a look at what we thought was the building, brick walls, pitched roof, roller shutter door; it was ideal! Then the landlord said ‘no, not that one’ and pointed to the ship lap fronted pre-fab structure next to the smoking shelter that needed a lot of tlc .”
But James and Tom took him up on his offer and got to work, making it weather tight and brewing worthy within 10 months. Over the next 18 months they also added a temperature controlled shipping container at the end of the car park to store their grain and finished beers and increased their capacity from 320 litres a week to 800 litres. The brewery also boasts an inspiring view over the industrial sprawl of the Black Country especially at sunrise! Fownes now are brewing as much as they can in this space with four fermentors and are brewing 2.5 barrels/ 10 firkins twice a week.
With the brewery up and running, the guys had to start naming their brews. They started being a bit more creative, pairing their beers with fictional Dwarfen tales created by Tom and James providing the artwork. John Edgar, Wolverhampton’s greatest professional wordsmith and orator, was the final component to bring the stories to life. Fownes now run special events with John’s live performances breathing life into their Dwarfen ales and tales!
Fownes now have ten awards (and counting) to their name including King Korvak”s Sagapicking up Gold CAMRA Champion Beer of Britain, for the porter category at the Midlands region and Visions of Heresy winning silver in the Mid to Dark Speciality Small Pack and Cask categories, Midlands region, SIBA Independent Beer Awards.
Fownes are now looking to expand and grow with six years of solid brewing under their belt.
James: “There weren’t too many challenges back in 2012, but now with the market being so overcrowded we need to less Dwarfen in size in order to survive and keep on creating the beer that drinkers love!”
Check out what the guys have been brewing up here!