By Tim Jones | Founder
So I’ll set the scene; It’s 2016, and the opening night of Birmingham Brewing Company’s taproom in Stirchley. It’s lashing it down outside, but the place is rammed. Myself and the wife got chatting to another couple, Sam and George, and continued to to chat throughout the night. Much later on, when the night started to blur slightly, one thing that I remember as clear as day is Sam uttering six words and, to be honest, I’ve heard them many a time before, “I want to start a brewery.” I have a default mode when someone says this to me: I smile, nod and think back to last time I was cleaning casks outside in the snow… But, nonetheless, I continued to humour this chap as he had a real passion for the industry, which I love.
Fast-forward two years; I’m heading out, this time with our Editor, Helen, who hadn’t been acquainted with Birmingham Brewing Company. But tonight is a different night for the folks of Birmingham… Why? Because a brand new brewery is launching on what has now been dubbed “The Stirchley Beer Mile”. We enter the huge space of Attic Brewing Co. filled to the brim with people, plush second-hand sofas and local food vendor, Full of Chaat, in the corner. I rock up to the bar and I hear one of the brewers say, “Alright, Tim”…. Crap, it’s Sam!
Perhaps this experience has made me think twice; perhaps I was a bit of a pessimist to begin with, but the realisation that it was Sam was bloody fantastic! So I popped back the next week to chat with Sam and Oli to find out what I’d missed since that fateful night and get the FULL story, perhaps in a slightly more sober state…
“I started home-brewing when we were at university in Cardiff back in 2011. I was fed up of the s****y lager that we were drinking and thought, ‘I can brew something better than this.’ So I started brewing in the attic of my student house.” Said Sam, with his wellies and rubber gloves on, ready to reluctantly clean their least favoured tank, named Burther. “When I returned from uni [in 2013], I built my first brewery with my grandad out of plastic buckets, kitted out with different elements, bits and bobs.”
“I was only partially involved at uni.” Said Oli, nursing a glass of their Session IPA, which is now their biggest seller. “I would visit Sam at meetups, and see his fridge with converted tap and think, ‘man that’s so cool!’ I never really considered doing something remotely similar. I was working in London in advertising and went to a uni meetup with Sam, and he asked me if I wanted to start a brewery with him. Once you’ve been asked that question, you can’t say no to an opportunity like that.”
“The biggest challenge has been that we’re both not particularly practical, so the DIY was tough, but we got help from friends and Family to build the bar, benches and other bits. The help we’ve received is unreal; we got our kegs from Velvet Owl Brewery, friends, families and customers have donated sofas, and local brewers have helped us out massively too, especially Paul from Birmingham Brewing Company, Donny from Dig Brew and Alex from Green Duck.”
“Another big challenge is the cleaning. Don’t get me wrong, we love what we do, but it’s a real ball ache.” Sam continued, as he took off his rubber gloves and made his way over to the bar to pour himself a well-earned pint!
“We wanted to start with the taproom and have a more community feel to the brewery. The response has been mostly really positive, with loads of people coming up to the bar and saying that they’re really enjoying the beer, which is fantastic.” Oli said, with a cheeky grin on his face. “At the moment, we’re selling as much as we can make, people have been coming back for the same drink so want to keep them happy, but, at the same time, we also want to do some interesting beers that we want to drink and we think that people want the same. The Pepper Saison has gone down surprisingly well!”
“It only took us 2 months to get this ready and we’re really shocked as to how well things have gone, so we’re looking forward to 2019!” Sam added.
The guys have big plans for next year, which includes growing from a 5-barrel brewery to a 9-barrel. They also want to get their beers into pubs and bars locally, eventually looking at canning. The lads also gave me a cheeky taste of their Chocolate Milk Stout, which will be out soon. So head down, grab a pint at the taproom and say hello to these guys! Fri 4–10pm, Sat 1–10pm.
They’ve just launched Gift Vouchers too!