Inspired by London, United Kingdom
With a brewery for approx. every 42,733 people, the United Kingdom is the most saturated marketplace for brewers anywhere in the world. Compare this with the 5,000 active breweries in the US (or 1 brewery for every 63,780 people) and it gives a fair indication of the competitive nature of our industry and consequently what it takes to be successful in such an environment.
In response to this, a little over 3 years ago Fourpure launched with a vision and a plan to take inspiration from around the globe and bring our unique, modern take on brewing to the well-established, often traditional-minded industry that is British beer.
We didn’t want to do this by having the loudest packaging or most extreme events presence, we wanted to be true to ourselves and do it in an authentic, beer-led way, supported by a strong team, modern processes and an entrepreneurial approach. It was important for us to drive forwards brewing skills and capabilities as well as creating opportunities within the broader business to generate better QA, improve beer quality through packaging and routes to market and just generally do things better, smarter, in a more collaborative way.
We knew from the offset that we didn’t want to get involved in the cask space, with an explosive global craft beer scene and new and innovative flavours and styles coming out on a regular basis, we knew that keg beers were where we needed to be.
Our subsequent decision to can was an equally clear direction and after a brief trial in bottles, we quickly switched to a compact in-line canning machine capable of small volume outputs, making us the first London brewer to can our entire core range of beers. This was our intention from the outset with the decision focused on quality and sustainability, helping to reduce the impact that light has on our beers and allowing us to better control DO levels whilst being a lighter, more sustainable packaging option.
That feels like ancient history now and in 2016 we moved from one central warehouse on our trading estate in Bermondsey to occupy four separate warehouses encompassing production, packaging and distribution. Unfortunately due to existing tenancy commitments and space limitations, we were unable to secure neighbouring warehouses and we find ourselves in four warehouses across three separate parts of the estate. This has required some ability to ‘think outside the box’ when it comes to packaging our beer and getting it where it needs to go.
The current solution is a series of pipes that run behind the estate, 106 metres of them, to be exact. They traverse the distance between our brewhouse in Unit 22 and conclude their journey at Unit 16, a short stroll, or a pain in the backside if you’ve left something between trips. Depending on the beer, when it arrives in 16 it will likely go through our centrifuge, then a heat exchanger and finally through a carb stone before reaching its final destination, waiting in tank to make it’s way either into keg or can via our new state of the art canning line.
2016 was also a big year for production, seeing us brew 41 unique beers across 30 styles. Some beers seen for the first time were Shape Shifter West Coast IPA, Planet Simcoe, Passionfruit Wit, our 2016 iterations of Northern Latitude and Morning Star (Vanilla Porter) and Summer standouts Juicebox and Deucebox Citrus IPA’s. It also saw the commencement of a barrel ageing programme and some interesting use of yeast, with a Margarita Gose being one of our standout brews towards the end of the year.
One of the key reasons we found ourselves expanding our brewery footprint in 2016 was the significant investment made in our packaging facility, the cornerstone of which is a brand new automated canning line capable of packing up to 12,000 cans per hour, complemented by a new case packer capable of boxing 12 & 24 packs for the shelf.
For those interested, you can find a quick tour of our production facility and Q&A with Head of Packaging Steve Morris here;
Owning and running a brewery is a truly romantic notion, at one point or another we’re sure most people aspire to pack in their nine-to-five and pursue their hobby as an artist, a baker, a brewer. Sadly the commercial realities of maintaining and growing a small business can quite quickly remove some of the shine.
We’ve taken the step at Fourpure of making sure that as we grow, our back office team and processes are as important as the brewing face of our business... after all people and systems are amongst the most important elements of supporting a high growth business.
Since opening our doors we’ve constantly tried to evolve, to innovate and grow, we’re always looking at ways to drive the business forward and to help achieve this we believe it’s necessary to have the right people in the right roles. In 2016 we filled in some gaps in the senior leadership team by hiring a Finance Director and Head of Marketing, our headcount increased from 22 to 41 including new hires across every department and we even created some new roles that didn’t previously exist.
In addition to this we have recently invested in a world class sensory training programme which saw 30 staff trained up over a 6 day course with around 7,920 samples being poured. We want our staff to progress and quality to constantly be measured, we also want to make sure that a broad responsibility for our beer is encapsulated by us all. We ask all staff to put forward ideas when it comes to the beers we brew, we want them to write stories of their travels, brewery tours and visits, we collaborate and we take inspiration from the everyday things around us.
So the Fourpure story is short, explosive and we believe fairly unique in the UK, in such a short period of time. Whether it’s 41 beers representing 30 unique and varying styles, cutting edge packaging solutions or the processes that drive everything forward, we aim to be nimble, entrepreneurial and innovative. Far from being a mantra or broad ideology, we practice everything we preach and things move fast because we have one unified team all pulling together for one specific goal; well made, interesting, flavoursome beer.