Flicking through Twitter over the past few months we kept seeing ‘The Secret Brewery’ in Birmingham with ‘DM for info’ in the bio. Curiosity killed the cat; so we just had to find out who, where and what was brewing? After a few casual exchanges on Twitter, we found ourselves on a trip to an area that hasn’t got the best reputation (but a fantastic community) to visit this ‘Secret Brewery’.
We were met by Jay and Neil, two of the five individuals involved in this interesting project, in a community centre. The guys have asked us not to reveal the location for a few technical reasons but one thing that we can confirm… their oatmeal stout is badass! 😜👍
Sitting down with Jay and Neil while enjoying their latest creation, they told us where it all began…
Jay began: “We started almost a year ago, we’ve been slowly releasing brews to the local community. I was fed up with having to head into Birmingham city centre for a decent beer, as were many of my mates!”
Neil added: “We talked about it for a while, then we slowly started setting it up.”
Jay took a moment to enjoy his glass of Oatmeal Stout before continuing. “People have responded really well. We’ve done a Kolsch style beer, although we called it a light ale because we didn’t know if everyone would be familiar with the style.”
The guys have been doing it slowly as all five of them have day jobs and they wanted to get things right as Neil confirmed.
“We thought that it was important to get our recipes right, getting an idea of what we like and what works.”
Since then they have been scheduling a brew a month, although it’s been shifting quite fast, especially at community events and tap takeovers, as Jay told us: “We started with what was just a golden ale, which was surprisingly nice for our first brew. Our English IPA was on at a local pub and we shifted two kegs pretty quickly! We’ve been asked to do even more but we haven’t got the capacity to keep up with demand right now.”
For the guys, it’s all about the community and creating a social enterprise that gives back. “We want to create a taphouse and have a sustainable business to keep in with that ethos.” said Neil, while sipping his brew.
“A key part for us is about helping employment while producing a good beer, where you don’t necessarily find that kind of stuff. The plan is to run this like a social enterprise. There’s a consortium around here that runs a local community restaurant. The idea is to create employment, good food, all while putting the profits back into community activities. We want to do the same with the brewery. Stirchley is a great example of how beer can bring a community back to life. This area has a bad reputation and challenges but this is an opportunity to use beer to renew the community and bring a bit of joy along the way.”
The team has been brewing on a 60 litre nano kit that is stored in a cupboard at the community centre but they’re about to upgrade to a much bigger kit, and are looking to find a permanent venue where they can brew and have a taproom. So keep an eye out for these guys, as they may soon be Birmingham’s worst-kept brewing secret!