We went to meet Jaega Wise from the uber cool Wild Card Brewery. The brewery was founded in 2012 and was situated in the Ravenswood Industrial Estate Walthamstow, which has now become a real hotspot with “God’s Own Junkyard”, Pillars Brewery, The Real Al Company & Trap Taproom and Mother’s Ruin Gin Palace.
In April, the main brewery set up by Jaega, William Harris and Andrew Birkby moved to a much larger site in Lockwood. By doing this, they doubled their capacity, leaving the original locationl open as their epic taproom is always buzzing over the weekends.
Jaega, who is the Director of SIBA South East and now is a presenter on Channel 5’s The Wine Show, kicked things off by pouring us their mega juicy NEIPA. This was the first brew from their new limited batches… Although it has now sneaked into batch number 3, due to popular demand… and being such an amazing brew!
After giving us the grand tour, she told us where it all began…
“We are all old friends from Nottingham, who started as cuckoo brewers back in 2012, then got enough money together to move into Ravenswood in 2013. Since then, we have been incrementally adding kit and growing pretty organically.”
“The biggest challenge was money; we aren’t rich people, and we don’t come from rich backgrounds, so it’s like how do we afford to do what we like to do? We overcame this by getting loans via twitter, putting out feelers saying ‘we need some money for a tank’ and ‘who wants to give us some money for a tank?’ Luckily, Walthamstow is very community-based and when a customer lends you money then sees a tank in the brewery, it’s kind of special.”
“In 2017, we did a big crowdfunding campaign and raised 300k in seven days. This allowed us to move from the last site which was incredible. It wasn’t easy, though, as all of us were up at 7am, campaigning outside tube stations and doing plenty of social media posts.Thinking about it now, the money couldn’t have come soon enough as we were working in such a confined space.”
We had seen the old brewery before, and the new site is A LOT bigger, with heaps of space, plenty of gleaming coppers, and it even boasts its own shower! There’s also an excellent upstairs seating area that hosts private parties and events.
“This is where the meat of the production is happening. It’s still a work in progress; we’ve only just finished the brewery install as we did everything on the cheap. The seating area upstairs fills up at weekends and we’ve also installed heating… we learnt that lesson the hard way in the winter at Ravenswood!’
‘We’re now a 6 barrel plant, but our mash tun is tiny, meaning we have to work quite hard, brewing back to back. For a small brewery, we definitely punch above our weight with this kit, and despite being a small team, we all work really hard to get things done.”
“The beers are tasting better than they ever have here. We’re finally in a situation capacity-wise where I can brew something other than our core range. As a result, we have brewed newly limited edition batches in cans which are available anywhere in the UK. We can also be a little bit more experimental, and I’ve been barrel aging back at the old plant with two saisons aging in rioja barrels, which are coming along nicely.”
“The next challenge for us is to get this tap room as busy as Ravenswood, which is hard because this is slightly further out. It’s a great spot, though, as we’re surrounded by some fantastic venues; ‘Yonder’ is a bouldering place with a bar and the ‘Wood Street Cafe’ is just a stone’s throw away. We’re open on Fridays and Saturdays with a vegan market once a month, and the footfall is starting to get there, with a few regulars too, which is cool!”
We finished the evening by trying Wild Card’s second limited edition brew; a Passionfruit Gose packed with flavour, and to be fair, it’s a real game changer… brewed with heaps of passionfruit, the sweet tropical flavours combine with the subtle sourness perfectly, finished by a touch of salt, creating an exceptionally well balanced brew.
Cheers for having us guys! 🙂