Dwarfen brewers Tom and James Fownes of the Fownes Brewing Company are proving Gimli, from Lord of the Rings, wrong when he says that Dwarves are only good over short distances. As they are approaching their 5th birthday I asked them a few questions about the history of the brewery, the future and what we can expect at their Quinquennial celebrations.
It’s your 5th birthday time flies! Tell me about the history of the brewery, how you started and where you are now?
As with most of life’s great adventures, the Fownes Brewing Company began not with salad but down the pub. Ironically at the pub we would find ourselves brewing out the back of!
We were about six pints in to the night when one of us declared the beer we were currently drinking was a bit thin and lacking. Obviously the answer was that, of course, we could do better! James also stipulated it should be a Dwarfen Brewery.
Now bear in mind we’d never even done any home brewing at this point, but we were ‘men of science’, it must be possible!
I’m sure many people have had similar conversations like that down the pub. The difference here was when James called me the next morning to remind me of this great idea we’d had down the pub. I dutifully replied that we had been quite drunk when having said revelation.
Sadly for me, James was rather unhappy in his then profession of teaching and was looking for a change of career. I was quite happy being a poor music journalist, but somehow got dragged along on this adventure to become a poor brewer instead!
So with nothing but a few books and some thirty litre all grain brew kit, we began what has so far been a seven year long attempt to become millionaires through brewing.
It’s all got rather out of hand since then. In the July of 2012 we sold our first cask, 9 gallons of Frost Hammer, to Rob at the Jolly Crispin, and 3 months later we finished refurbing the current brewery building out the back of the same said pub and moved in with our then current 100 litre tower kit.
In the 5 years since we sold that first cask we’ve upgraded our kit again, now at 600 litres and, hopefully, once we’ve relocated to new premises, will be upgrading again.
What have been some of the highs and lows in this time?
We’ll start with the lows. The thing that sucks the most being a brewer is when something goes wrong and you have to ditch a whole batch. We’ve been quite fortunate in that respect as I count on my fingers the times it’s happened, and that’s out of probably close to 500 brews.
The highs have been many and varied. From winning our first beer festival award, to our first regional award, to just getting to go out and meet people who enjoy the product we make.
The biggest high we’ve experienced in 2017 was the success of a crowdfunding campaign we ran to fund our new range of bottled beers. Around 90 people chose to Belong with the Dwarfs, providing money in exchange for beer. It was a humbling experience to see how many people loved what we are doing.
What are the plans for the Dwarves for the next 5 years?
Move, expand, grow, be more awesome! From these four things should flow a better life for our families and the community that we want to build around our business.
And finally hat can people expect at your birthday party on 22nd Oct?
The best party of the year! We love throwing our birthday party, it’s a chance to get to know new fans and spend time with existing ones we might not get to see as often as we like. Financially it’s normally not a good day for us because we spend so much money on making it the best party we can. I mean where else can you get a glass, a t-shirt, a bottle of beer, live wrestling and professional storytelling AND access to our latest beers for under £15? Mad!
If you haven’t already got your tickets for the party what are you waiting for? Follow this link to a great afternoon and see you there!