Our latest beer launch has just gone live and we’ve done a few different bits about it on social media and press releases but we wanted to write a post about how it came about and why we did it for anyone who’s interested.
The main driving force of this beer was actually the burnt chef project which was started recently by a friend of the brewery pictured below, the handsome and lovely Kris Hall. He is a sales manager for a large local food distributor. The idea behind the project is simple, to get mental health training support to hospitality.
It’s always been an unsettling source of irony that hospitality attracts such a high proportion of people with mental health issues and it is one of the worst work environments for those people. I’ll only talk about my experiences but I started working in restaurants at 13 which was the same year I got diagnosed with major depressive disorder and ahd general anxiety added to the rap sheet more recently. A lot of the people I’ve worked with over the years have the same conditions and it is definitely true in my opinion that mental health issues are ubiquitous in hospitality.
Research from RSPH has found that mental health and wellbeing is under significant strain amongst hospitality employees. In the latest report, Service With(out) a Smile, over four out of five (84%) hospitality workers reported increased stress which was believed to be a direct consequence of their job. As a result, almost half (45%) of respondents said they would not recommend working in hospitality. The high-stress environment and normally unsocial hours are cliches of the industry now but they carry with them a real cost.
There is also an unspoken truth to the brewing industry that I’ve never heard discussed but the truth if you zoom out of the picture is that we create something which people can abuse. Joe Rogen has called breweries drug dealers with a legal licence which to an extent I would agree with. It is less likely in craft beer for people to be drinking to get drunk which I believe causes most alcohol related issues. If you;re drinking craft beer the main reason should be flavour not the effects of alcohol. Me and Nick had talks early on that we wanted to work with a charity at some point to balance the moral scales and it’s great that we have the opportunity to help some people with our business.
When Kris told me he had started the project it seemed like one of those perfect ideas that you wished you’d thought of, simple and desperately necessary. I couldn’t put a number on the amount of times I’ve witnessed people going through all manner of things in their life or just trying to manage their minds and having to power through and just suck it up. It’s quite common to see barmen and women crying before their shifts, chefs chain smoking or using drugs to get through their crazy work loads or wait staff meditating through a customer facing shift when they shouldn’t be there.
The aim for the burnt chef project is to target managers in particular and train them in how to recognise signs and symptoms of different mental health issues so that people can feel supported and safe while they are at work. I’ve had to lie several times over the years about taking sick days when feeling unable to move or face people and the hope is to create environments where it isn’t an issue.
For the beer itself Kris initially asked if he could host some events at the warehouse, which we will do later this year, but was super receptive to the idea of a collaboration. We are donating to the project with every beer sold and will be increasing the donation with the more units sold. We still have to cover production costs and our time for the first few batches.
For the recipe the aims for the beer were different than anything we’ve done before. We had to make sure the beer was;
Approachable for a wide variety of pallets so non beer drinkers or traditional beer fans could enjoy it too
Sessionable alcohol to increase the appeal
Unique flavour that would make the beer stand out
Cheap to produce, relatively for a craft beer to increase the donation but not compromise the quality
A stand out design that would fit multiple types of venues from restaurants to cafes.
We decided on a 3.5% Session IPA hopped with Simcoe, Melon and Chinook for a fruity and hop-forward session beer. The flavours for the first batch are way above our expectations, normally for a first brew you end with just a lot of notes for how to improve it but speak out is not going to be tweaked much before we lock it in.
The nose we are getting is peach and lychee with the look of slightly hazy brilliant straw yellow with a nice clean white head. On the palate you get melon, grapefruit and a crisp, clean mouthfeel. We’re super happy with this beer and are going to be taking it at the end of the month to a large burnt chef event in bristol on the 27th january.
Keep an eye out on social media for a list of venues that are working with us for this cause, we are very grateful to everyone who is helping do something great! And if you haven’t already given Kris and the burnt chef project a follow on social media to show your support.