Imperial Black, Buxton Brewery
"Good beer will never go out of style" - Geoff Quinn
People thought Geoff Quinn was mad to open a brewery in the height of a recession. Thankfully he paid that particular sort of ‘helpful’ advice no heed when he founded Buxton Brewery in 2009.
Over the past decade, Buxton Brewery has become synonymous with quality beer. From modern classics like their Axe Edge IPA to experimental and avant-garde collaborations with the likes of Sweden’s Omnipollo. They’ve also been known to make beers with a deeper, social message such as Yellow Belly and Coward.
We got chance to ask Geoff a few quick questions as he was waiting to board a flight to Miami for the Wakefest Invitational independent craft beer festival.
You seem to have had a bit of a rebrand of late, what can you tell us about it?
“We’re using the same designer, Nick Wagner. He’s been with us since May 2013, and even though he works out of Vancouver, Oregon, nearly 5,000 miles away and with an 8 hour time difference, he’s a key part of our team.”
The original logo from 2009 was a depiction of a well known local landmark, Solomon’s Temple. (aka Grinlow Tower) which overlooks the town of Buxton. Nick has been gradually reworking this and other aspects of the branding over the past five years. It’s less of a rebrand and more of a gradual migration.
“Our label designs have been changing since day one. We’ve never decided on the perfect design or style and this constant evolution around the central theme is something that we’re happy to embrace. Nick is amazing at taking an idea and really running with it. It’s likely that Axe Edge, being one of our most celebrated beers will get another treatment in the future!”
There's still an outdoor vibe in some of the imagery and beer names. How important is this link to the outdoors to Buxton?
“Our beer names were first characterised by outdoor landmarks and climbing crags around Buxton and the Peak District. The theme continued, and as Buxton grew and gained more international recognition, it made sense to use names from climbing destinations elsewhere, such as Scotland, the Alps and the USA."
Geoff, the founder, is an avid climber and one of the reasons he originally moved to Buxton was to be closer to the brilliant rock climbing the Peak District offers.
"Many other members of the team love the outdoors and nature as well, so, in a round-about way, Buxton Brewery owes a lot to climbing and the outdoors so yeah it is, and always will be, a very significant link.”
The more astute amongst you will notice that the label on this week’s featured beer, Imperial Black, is not a local landmark or obvious reference to the great outdoors. Rather it is a rather devilish looking character.
What can you tell us about it and how frightened should we be of the 7.5% ABV beer inside?
“Imperial Black was brewed as an ‘upgrade' to another Black IPA we brewed [Black Rocks - BeerBods beer #68], bigger and with more dry-hop and flavour and character in general. Design discussions led us to portray this as a kind of gruesome gargoyle character. And this carried forward to the current design of the (as yet un-named) scary creature climbing on a sea cliff. He’s depicted on a stylised version of The Devil’s Slide on Lundy Island in the Bristol Channel. We’d all say he’s not as scary as he looks, but be wary of trying to take his can of Impy Black away from him!”
You're one of the earlier UK craft breweries and there's always a lot of interest when you come out with a new beer or collaboration. What's keeping you so contemporary all this time?
"We’re a 12-strong team and everybody who works here is really passionate about beer and believes in the ethos of Buxton Brewery. All we really want to do is make excellent beer that we’d be happy to drink and share with friends and strangers alike.”
He then adds,
“Good beer will never go out of style and maybe our dedication to this cause is what's keeping Buxton Brewery contemporary.”