At the end of a piece I wrote back in January I mused that we could begin to see the existence of a ‘third wave’ of British brewers and since then I’ve seen enough evidence to convince me that this is already the case. This third wave is a new breed of brewers entering what is gradually becoming a saturated marketplace. In order to survive they will have to innovate and anticipate like no other breweries that have come before them. They will need to be able to turn on a pinhead at the hint of the slightest problem in order to make their business work. And their beer will need to be excellent from day one. No excuses.
They’ll do this by brewing on two-barrel brewhouses in their garages or creating beer on whatever kit they can utilise. They’ll scrape together every penny in order to produce the best beer they can. Not all of them will succeed, but those that do are likely go on to become the next wave of breweries that we as consumers can’t get enough of.
Paul Greetham’s recently launched brewery, Beatnikz Republic is an example of this third wave. Greetham began to discover how great beer could be around a decade ago, while he was a student living in Manchester. “Discovering bars such as Big Hands that had Brooklyn on tap and [Schneider] Aventinus in the fridge was an absolute revelation,” he says, as we chat over a pint of Beatnikz Republic’s US hopped Kölsch, Dibble House.
Greetham moved to London in 2007 and gradually began to see the beer world develop around him. “I owe a lot to The Kernel for getting me seriously hooked on hops. But it was a couple of trips to the US when I realised I wanted to turn the hobby of drinking beer into the hobby of making beer.” Like so many beer enthusiasts, Greetham continued to describe to me how the American scene altered his perception of what beer culture in the UK could become. “It was drinking the likes of Dogfish Head, Stone and Green Flash, in bars that had a dazzling display of tap handles and beer lists that finally gave me the urge to make my own. The complexity and depth of these beers were just too intriguing to ignore.”
With the fire under the stove lit, Greetham began home brewing, producing around 50 to 75 litres of beer a month and then getting his friends to drink it at BBQs, parties and poker nights. Meanwhile his job in event production took him all over the world and he began to see a pervasive beer culture emerging wherever he travelled.
“I knew I wanted to make beer my profession after my second attempt at brewing,” says Greetham enthusiastically. It was then that he began to formulate the idea for launching his business. The name Beatnikz Republic is in part inspired by the US Beat movement of the 1950’s and 60’s and partly by beers inherently democratic nature, hence Republic. “Beer should be ruled by the many and not by the few.” A sentiment that’s easy to agree with.
"Beatnikz Republic is all about creating very full flavoured beers with a compelling identity." Paul Greetham, Owner & Founder Beatnikz Republic
Beatnikz Republic began to brew commercially at UBrew, a brewing collective in Bermondsey, South London. “It was a lot of fun brewing at UBrew and it worked very well,” Greetham says of his time there. His first commercial batches sold out within three weeks and he almost immediately knew he would need to scale up. It was then that he struck up a relationship with Lion’s Den brewery in the North East (a subsidiary of Camerons) whose 10-barrel system had spare capacity and included access to a bottling and kegging line.
At UBrew Greetham had begun to develop recipes such as Afrobeat, a strong porter infused with espresso made with Ethiopian coffee beans, an American style pale ale called Beach Bum and Dibble House, an American Kölsch. The latter became his first 10-barrel brew at The Lion’s Den. “The first batch of Dibble House has just been released, it’s a Kölsch that uses US hops.” Greetham says excitedly about the beer. “It’s inspired by Grant Wood's iconic painting American Gothic and is a hybrid style that marries assertive bitterness with a clean, crisp finish.”
“I would say that Beatnikz Republic is all about creating very full flavoured beers with a compelling identity,” Greetham says when I ask him to sum up what Beatnikz Republic means to him. In the short term he hopes to emulate the success of gypsy brewers such as Mikkeller, Omnipollo and Yeastie Boys, who he has immense respect for. As for what the longer-term holds, no one can be quite sure, but for a third wave outfit like Beatnikz Republic the future of beer could well be theirs to shape.
The brewery is currently in discussion with a number of retailers and distributors, and they hope to have Beatnikz Republic Brewing Co. beers in many more outlets in the coming weeks and months. Follow @BeatnikzRep on Twitter for updates.