Beers available in Brixton - craft, ale, keg, cask, bottled, canned and more

Discussion in 'Brixton' started by CH1, Jun 6, 2016.

  1. editor

    editor hiraethified

    Why do they feel the need to "massively increase distribution" and - of course, contribute to their own and Heineken's already-immense profits?

    To some people the best independent breweries - like the best independent record labels - offer a real alternative and represent a different set of values to the ruthless capitalism of the big players. They're not all about profit and endless expansion into new territories.

    It reminds me when music majors used to create faux indie labels so they could ride on the back of their success and credibility.

    The Brixton Brewery have made it clear which side of the fence they're on. They're happy to jump into bed with multi billion, multi national corporates in the name of increased profits and expanded product recognition, while using the 'Brixton' brand to enhance their hipness.

    I won't be buying their beer again (actually, I've never really liked anything of theirs I've tasted to date, so perhaps I should reword that to: I'll never try anything of theirs again!).

    Thankfully, there are other true independent brewers in the area who I think are unlikely to give away nearly half of their business to the second biggest brewer in the world. And thank 'eavens for them.
  2. Twattor

    Twattor Well-Known Member

    I've had a soft spot for Beavertown since their start-up in Duke's Brew and 'Cue, as I was working next door when they first opened. Their early attempts at brewing were woeful and their attempts at cask absolute poison, so much so that for the first couple of years they only survived by being subsidised by the pub. When they gave up cask and moved to keg the beers improved massively, got very popular, and they've since had to expand twice to keep up with demand. When they stopped needing the pub revenue they disposed of it to focus on brewing. Good for them, I say.

    So they love brewing and want to share their beers with more people. What's wrong with that? They've chosen one form of investment over another - they could well have gone down the private equity route instead. Would that have been better? Brewdog used crowdfunding and sold bonds to expand their operations and create their horrible identikit bars; they were criticised as sell-outs for doing so even though they opened the investment to everyone.

    I like that Logan has dreams and ambitions. I like the idea of more of their beers. I don't like the idea of Beaver Bars, or of Heineken but I won't be cutting off my nose to spite my face by refusing to drink their beers. Hop Burns & Black and Cloudwater are just being petty.
    Mr Retro, elmpp, alex_ and 3 others like this.
  3. jezg

    jezg Well-Known Member

    There's a myriad of reasons breweries have to juggle in deciding which paths to take, we set some of those out in the announcement post on our website and latterly this podcast if your interested in understanding ours.

    We don't take the name of our home lightly and are certainly always conscious of the responsibility it brings and we do our utmost to respect that. We appreciate not everyone will agree with the choices we make but I hope they might at least understand them.
  4. Gramsci

    Gramsci Well-Known Member

    Given posting here if anyone is interested in 100% independent brewery then there is Clarkshaws in Loughborough Junction. In Ridgeway road by the Loughborough road/ Cold harbour lane crossroads in one of the railway arches. Was there today. Excellent beers and really friendly couple who run it. Over summer normally open for drinks or take away from Friday evening and then 12 to 8 on weekends. Unless they are at a beer Festival.

    Clarkshaws - Home

    Had a chat with them today. They have some great beers and lagers on tap and bottles.
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2018
    editor likes this.
  5. alex_

    alex_ Well-Known Member

    Also canopy have a nice tap room, London beer lab are all lovely guys, who else is there in the area ?

    Gramsci and editor like this.
  6. Twattor

    Twattor Well-Known Member

    Bullfinch do some good beers - under the arches just off Rosendale. That's the last stop on the Brixton beer mile (currently): Beer Lab, Brixton, Clarkshaws, Canopy, Bullfinch.
    Gramsci, editor and Winot like this.
  7. editor

    editor hiraethified

    Brixton has recently become a byword for entrepreneurial enterprise, brand expansion and, ultimately, profit. I'd say that your company very much fits in with that, but do you still think of yourself as an 'independent' brewery?
  8. jezg

    jezg Well-Known Member

    I assume you're referring to other businesses that have started in Brixton and grown elsewhere e.g. Honest, Kricket etc I'm not sure we fit in with that as the key to the partnership for us was it allowed us to stay in Brixton whilst growing. Naturally we pursue profit to ensure our business is sustainable, remains innovative, can grow and reward our staff.

    In terms of independence, we are still an independent brewery with the founders owning the majority of shares and controlling the brewery. We are also members of SIBA(Society of Independent Brewers) as we continue to satisfy their membership criteria.
    aussw9, SpamMisery and ricbake like this.
  9. editor

    editor hiraethified

    Would you count this site as 'independent' if we were 49% owned by Murdoch's Sky?

    And isn't part of your Heineken-funded expansion enabling you to sell your beer outside of Brixton?
  10. jezg

    jezg Well-Known Member

    You asked if we think of ourselves as independent, I explained why we do. We go into more details why in our blog post and the podcast I linked to earlier.

    We've always sold beer outside of Brixton and indeed the UK.
    mango5, alcopop and snowy_again like this.
  11. editor

    editor hiraethified

    I appreciate you taking the time to reply here, but we'll have to agree to disagree.

    In my eyes, the word 'independent' conjures up images of a small business with a small scale, niche offering, and not a company that jumps into bed with the planet's second biggest multi-billion brewery to pursue what appears to be quite aggressive expansion plans (a massive 400% increase in output).

    And for that reason, I - and I suspect quite a few other people - really can't see how you can be described as independent, even if SIBA think you are. Ans you didn't answer my question: Would you count this site as 'independent' if we were 49% owned by Murdoch's Sky?

    Some interesting background:
    State of the UK Craft Beer Market in 2017
  12. Mr Retro

    Mr Retro Beware hedgehogs

    I don’t think satisfying SIBA requirements give you right to claim you are independent. There is no large industry more rapacious than the beer industry. I think if you give them a huge chunk of your business you can’t claim to be independent any more.

    Not that I blame you for your choice, you did whats best for you and your company and I would most likely do exactly the same. So I wish you the very best of luck. But you are no longer an independent brewery in my eyes.
  13. Twattor

    Twattor Well-Known Member

    I don't think it is as black and white as that. It isn't a buyout, but an investment. Compare the Brixton/Beavertown scenario with the likes of Goose Island (AB InBev), Lagunitas (Heineken), Meantime (SAB Miller, now InBev), Camden (AB InBev), Ballast Point (Constellation) all of which were full buyouts. Those resulted in all sorts of unwelcome changes: brewing was relocated to existing macro-brewery plants and other cost savings forced were upon them (recipe changes, lower quality ingredients etc.).

    Brixton and Beavertown have retained ownership. They have a new investor, who will no doubt want a return, but the ownership and direction remains their own. Unless of course they decide to sell the rest at a later date...

    What's the threshold for investment above which a firm loses it's indendence? I'd say it is anything over the majority voting rights set out in their memorandum of association.
    alcopop, snowy_again and Mr Retro like this.
  14. editor

    editor hiraethified

    So I'll ask you. Would you view these boards as 'independent' if Murdoch's Sky paid me tens of millions of pounds for a 49% stake?
  15. Twattor

    Twattor Well-Known Member

    Wouldn't that be up to you? Surely it would come down to the terms of Sky's investment and whether it was on the basis of you retaining full editorial independence. No doubt the terms would be confidential, so irrespective of whether or not you were truly independent the suspicion would exist resulting in reputational damage. That is exactly how I see the Brixton/Beavertown situation.
  16. editor

    editor hiraethified

    It doesn't matter what I say: the question was whether you would view a board that is almost half owned by the vast wealth of Sky as being remotely classed as 'independent' or not. By having that kind of financial backing and clout it would clearly give me a huge advantage over boards without such multi-billion backers. And that - in my eyes - would mean I would lose all claim to be 'independent'.
  17. Twattor

    Twattor Well-Known Member

    in your eyes, maybe, and probably in the eyes of everyone else. But that would just be perception. Whether the boards were actually truly independent would be up to you as the person selling the investment, and the deal you agreed in exchange for the money.
  18. discobastard

    discobastard edited

    It's not a zero sum game and so it doesn't really matter. A decoy question rather than listening to their podcast and discussing their statement directly - why not address the issues they have raised (i.e. retaining full control of what they produce) rather than a nonsense question about Urban75 and Rupert Murdoch - which is obviously emotionally loaded and distorts the argument.

    FWIW - if you received investment in these boards to maintain and run them but retained full editorial control without any interference in content, then yes, you would have a strong degree of independence.
  19. editor

    editor hiraethified

    "A strong degree of Independence" is not the same as full independence. It's a meaningless term. Either you're independent or you're not.

    But if you wish to view a company that is 49% owned by a multi-national corporate with €20bn annual revenue as 'independent' that is your call.

    Curiously, earlier in this thread you were the one who posted up the link to the shop that now refuses to stock Brixton Brewery products because of Heineken's investment.
  20. discobastard

    discobastard edited

    I don’t think it’s that curious, nothing is black and white. I’m just juggling the ideas around in my head.

    I also wouldn’t say ‘a strong degree of independence’ is meaningless.

    You might argue that before they got investment they weren’t independent if they owed money to a bank that could call in a loan at any time. If they now have investment and with no meddling in what they choose to create and brew but greater distribution opportunities you might say they have more freedom. Including the opportunity to reward employees better.

    While at the same time they may not be technically or legally independent in terms of corporate law. Presumably that’s what you mean when you say ‘independent’?

    Quite complicated really.
  21. editor

    editor hiraethified

    Why don't you talk to the shop that is now refusing to stock their beer? Perhaps you might listen to their definition of what an independent is. I think they know about the topic than you.

    I've told you mine, and it's not a company half owned* by a multi-billion, multi-national global mega-corporate. But if that's your idea of an independent, that's fine. You drink away.

    (*oh sorry, a tiny smidgen under half)
  22. discobastard

    discobastard edited

    I have spoken to the shop. And I also said that I’ll likely choose other independent beers in future if I can. I tend to anyway as you get to try more interesting and varied stuff. And I can’t remember the time I last bought a pint of something that wasn’t independently owned (that’s not an exaggeration).

    And I’m also able to consider the issues involved and what it means. And it isn’t black and white.

    What do you drink?
  23. editor

    editor hiraethified

    Like I said, if you think they're still independent, that's fine. I don't. End of.
  24. discobastard

    discobastard edited

    It would appear so.

    We’ll be having no nuanced argument here!
    alcopop likes this.
  25. jezg

    jezg Well-Known Member

    As I responded earlier when asked we think of ourselves as independent but also totally understand if others don't. There are objective measures(ownership %'ge, SIBA membership etc) but obviously it is a very subjective issue too.
    By that same token it's also simplistic to say Independent(however you define it) = Good and Non-Independent(again however you define it) = Bad.
  26. editor

    editor hiraethified

    Indeed. And that's why I've never ever made such a claim.

    However I do take issue - in general terms - with companies who use the PR positives of being seen as an 'independent' when the truth is nowhere near as cut and dried.

    But we're from completely different worlds anyway. We were doing a Brixton beer that gave all the profits back to the community before you opened up in Brixton, and the notion of us teaming up with any multinational was unthinkable, and still is.

    I'm not knocking what you do and I understand why you do it, but since you teamed up with Heineken, you've become (in my eyes) part of the nu-Brixton that stands for entrepreneurial enterprise, brand expansion and increased profit. Nothing wrong with that of course - we live in a capitalist society - but it's not the Brixton that interests me.

    Good luck with your company though.
    technical and alex_ like this.
  27. Rushy

    Rushy AKA some / certain posters

    Interesting question.
  28. alex_

    alex_ Well-Known Member

    Iirc Green king ipa has been mentioned, which I believe is brewed in small batches by artisans in Bury st Edmunds.

  29. editor

    editor hiraethified

    Stopped drinking that ages ago not that it has anything whatsoever to do with the actual discussion about whether a corporate backed company can be classed as a true independent.
  30. discobastard

    discobastard edited

    But no answer
    alcopop likes this.

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