We’re thrilled to announce that we’ve got some new beers hitting the store this week in the form of Brewers & Union, the best brewery you might not have heard of…yet. From South Africa via Germany, Brewers & Union have a fine range of top quality beers ranging from their crisp refreshing unfiltered lager through to the epic Beast of the Deep, a 6.5% unfiltered heller bock.
We recently had a chat with Byron Redman, the UK half of the Brewers & Union operation, to find out more about the beers and their plans for the UK and beyond.
Who are Brewers & Union and how did you get started?
At Brewers & Union (B&U) we work hand in hand with brew masters in both Germany and Belgium to create accessible styles of beer with great flavour and aroma that we hope people enjoy. The name comes from this, it’s a coming together of brewers and us, hence our name. Rui Esteves and Brad Armitage started B&U in 2007 as the result of not being able to get a good beer in South Africa.
My beer education started when I was living in New York and spending a lot of time drinking good beer with Rui. As a consequence, I came on board in 2010 and brought the range to the UK. You could actually say, We Brought Beer.
Where are the beers brewed?
The majority of our range is brewed in Bavaria at Arcobrau brewery although we use much smaller breweries for our IPA’s and Belgian Tripel Blonde Ale.
How come you chose to contract brew and what do you think of this as a way of making beers?
There are largely two parts to this: First, this comes out of the cost of setting up and running a brewery in South Africa which is a large barrier to entry for any new business in what was a risky environment. Second, although we think we have a great understanding of the raw ingredients, flavour and aroma that good beer demands, we did not and indeed still don’t have, the exceptional brewing history and knowledge that a fifth generation brewery and their very experienced brew masters can offer.
I think the true beer geek might say we are not purists and to some extent I can see their point. Luckily we hope to please more than just the beer geeks as we think everyone should have access to great beers. I think any new person wanting to brew beer will find contract brewing is a great way to get started economically and to learn. We still, and intend to continue, contract brewing. This is what works for us and people must do whatever they think is the right thing to create the beers they want and that others might enjoy.
Are all B&U beers unfiltered and if so is this a conscious decision?
All of our beers are unfiltered and unpasteurised and yes, the decision is very conscious. Enhanced flavour profile, body, natural carbonation, more character – what’s not to like. That’s not to say we are averse to filtered beers and we have produced these in the past for various customers, but we just like unfiltered beers more.
What’s the inspiration for the beers?
The inspiration for beers comes from everything we enjoy from spending times with friends, our love of food. In essence just wanting to drink better and hoping others want to the same. For me personally it was also a complete shift from my past life and a chance in get involved in something from the start in the UK.
What’s your favourite of the B&U range?
The great thing about having a range is that you don’t really have to have a favourite as many factors can dictate what you feel like drinking such as weather, time of day, what you are eating, whether you are having just one beer or need a good session beer. At the moment however the beer I am drinking and enjoying the most is our Sunday Easy IPA. Great flavour and awesome aroma but doesn’t blow your head off with hops. I love hops but at times I think some beers tend to go a bit mad just for the hell of it.
Tell me a bit about the Touro – is this a regular brew?
With our Bavarian range we try to think of ourselves as either the beer you start with or the beer you come back to once you have had your geek fill of stronger beers. The Touro however is the beer you start and end with. In fact one of our very first beers we brewed. Try educating a South African market who are used to drinking bland pale fizzy lager to a rich and complex tripel blonde ale weighting in at 10% ABV. I believe the right term might be ‘bitchslap’. This is why we naturally grew into our Bavarian range, to be more accessible to people, to get them drinking better whilst not putting them off with something they might not understand. The last time we brewed the Touro was over two years ago hence the current bottles (limited stocks left) we have these two years second conditioning in the bottle. It is seriously delicious.
What’s next for the future for B&U?
From a beer perspective we feel we have a great core range with a few core additions to be added, although we are also going to head into the more interesting side of beer life. Some big beers on the horizon and we will be starting with seasonal beers too, hopefully very soon.
From a business perspective, we are growing nicely into the UK market and only recently have started to partner with some great distributors across the UK for a wider reach.
Apart from WBB, where else can people find B&U beers?
Our beers, bottles and kegs, are available across the UK in speciality beer stores and in many great pubs and restaurants, all of which are changing the face of what we are all drinking for the better. And I am talking about all the great beer that is brewed by people taking a chance.