Elusive Brewing, Level Up
“I was at breaking point if I’m honest” explains Andy Parker, founder of Elusive Brewing over a cup of coffee as he took a break from brewing earlier this week.
In 2015 the hours and pressures of his previous career were taking their toll. He was working in production for various TV companies, ensuring streaming services for live TV events like Big Brother and the World Cup worked seamlessly. Homebrewing was his salvation.
He was spending most weekends brewing with a mash tun and stock pot on an electric stove and giving samples to his fellow London Amateur Brewers members. Greg Irwin, who now runs Weird Beard Brew Co in West London, persuaded Andy to enter his beer into some homebrewing competitions and in 2013 Andy’s big break came when he won the Craft Beer Co Homebrew Competition with an American Red Ale called Level Up.
When I tell Andy it’s one of the best American Red Ales I’ve tasted he blushes. But I mean it. Balancing six different malts against some heavyweight American hops, it’s balanced, chewy, complex and immensely gluggable all at once.
“The prize for winning that competition was £5,000 and the chance to brew almost 9,000 litres of the beer at Dark Star Brewing Co. Winning that was a big deal at the time. It opened up my eyes and made me realise I could produce beers that people would actually want to buy!” Andy recalls in typically humble fashion.
A meticulous planner, Andy was never going to leave things to chance when it came to making brewing his living. ‘So you wanna open a brewery’ is a series of blog posts that set out, in glorious detail and honesty, the steps he went through, as well as the challenges he faced, to launch Elusive. It’s a wonderful resource for anyone starting out in the field. If anything proves just how much of a beer geek Andy is it is the research he conducted on beer styles as he tried to work out what kind of beers to brew.
Speaking of geekery, I asked Andy how the distinctive gaming-themed brand came about.
“The name of the brewery and the branding can all be tied back to gaming. The name is a reference to my XBox gaming tag. When I was a kid I had an Acorn Electron and a lot of our beers are named after the games I played on that.”
Based on the same industrial estate as Siren Craft Brew Co in Finchampstead, Berkshire Elusive is growing at a decent pace, but with no external funding, it’s at a speed Andy is comfortable with. “Steve helps with brewing and packaging a couple of days a week, but all the admin, sales and paperwork falls to me. It’s pretty full on. My wife and I joke that I’m just as stressed as I was in my old job but I earn 10% of what I used to” Andy jokes with a hearty laugh.
The difference now is that he’s doing what he loves and, hopefully, inspiring a few others to do the same along the way.
It’s also worth following Andy’s personal (it’s still all about beer) Twitter account.