In the last 5 years I’ve visited a lot of breweries and I’ll tell you something. I’ve met some bloody good people making the stuff too. Yep, brewers are a good bunch. A select few of them are particularly special though. We wanted to shine a light on those that are making great beer, but also making the world a slightly better place in the process.
This is a brewery like no other and it grew out of a passion for good beer and social justice. Paul (a criminal barrister and university tutor), Amy (currently undertaking doctoral research in criminology) and Tess (a bachelor of commerce graduate with craft beer bar and retail management experience) have all witnessed the difficulty people face when trying to turn their lives around after coming into contact with the law. They all love beer too. So they set up Tap Social Movement to create employment opportunities for people when they come out of prison. From their HQ in Oxford they are brewing some mighty fine beers and turning lives around in the process.
Based in Copenhagen, People Like Us is a brewing company run by autistic adults. It was founded in 2016, by brothers Lars and Jesper Carlsen. One of their star employees, Rune Lindgreen, has Asperger syndrome. Before bagging a job here, Rune was out of work for almost ten years. He wasn’t alone in his struggle. Just 16% of autistic adults in the UK are in full-time paid employment, despite the vast majority saying they want to work. People Like Us are changing that and have collaborated with breweries around the world, including Goose Island in Chicago and Brewdog in the UK.
“Things are moving fast, but more needs to be done. I believe that a more diverse beer industry will mean better beer." - Jaega Wise, Wild Card Brewery
Jaega Wise, an old friend of Wild Card Brewery founders, William and Andrew, was convinced to quit her job as a city trader and use her Chemical Engineering degree to bring a bit of scientific rigour to the brewing process. She has since become the poster girl for female brewers, not just in London, but all over the world. “Things are moving fast, but more needs to be done. I believe that a more diverse beer industry will mean better beer,” she says. “It will bring better ways of working, more expertise – and we need the talent. Anyone who is trying to recruit brewers at the moment knows that.”
44% of all bread in the UK is wasted. Toast Ale are on a mission to change that. Their beer is brewed with unsold loaves from bakeries and unused crusts from sandwich makers. All of their profits go to Feedback, an environmental charity campaigning to end food waste. Both Toast Ale and Feedback were founded by Tristram Stuart. “Tackling the global issue of food waste has taken me all over the world,” he explains. “We hope to eventually put ourselves out of business. The day there’s no waste bread is the day Toast ale can no longer exist.”
650 million people in the world lack access to safe drinking water and almost 1,000 children die every day from completely preventable diseases because of this. Alan Mahon, who founded Brewgooder with his mate Josh, explains how the idea came about. “After leaving university I was lucky enough to travel in Nepal, but unlucky enough to catch a waterborne parasite. It was a minor illness and I had access to all the drugs I needed to get on the mend very quickly but it made those figures of 650 million people seem very close to home. I couldn’t imagine taking a risk with my health multiple times every single day nor could I imagine that people being unable to access the very thing I take for granted” So they made it their mission to provide 1 million people with clean drinking water by using 100% of their profits from a selling a lager brewed at Brewdog’s Ellon HQ, to fund clean water projects in developing countries.
Whilst working in Nigeria managing a wildlife conservation project with the Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO), Greg Pilley had the idea of writing a book. After successfully pitching it to Guinness he spent 5 years researching traditional drinks of Africa and how all threads of life are linked by the social exchange over a beer. When Greg got back home to Blighty he got a job at the Soil Association in Stroud, writing a technical guide on how to set up local vegetable box schemes. But one day, whilst weeding and chatting to his friend Andy, he started to think about how he could bring brewing back to Stroud. A few years later that dream would become a reality. All of Stroud Brewery’s beers are organic and along with a bucket load of good stuff that the brewery does locally, their standout policy is to never supply any supermarket chains which “with remote shareholders have primarily an economic interest which draw on social and environmental capital”... hear, hear.
"Ultimately, our end goal is to make the most sustainable beer in the world, from grain to glass and everything in between." - Good Things Brewing
Good Things Brewing Company is made up of Chris, Russ and Sam. Chris has 15 years experience in the renewable energy industry, which is being put to good use. “The way beer is brewed is really inefficient. And in the UK, we brew a lot of beer... A lot. Raw ingredients are shipped in from all over the world, leftover grain is recycled inefficiently and huge amounts of energy and water is wasted. Our planet simply can’t sustain it”. The team are building a new brewery in the Sussex countryside from the ground up to be fully sustainable; from water to power, waste to distribution. They will be completely off-grid from the word go.
Image credits: People Like Us, Tap Social, Wild Card, Toast and Good Things Brewing.
We've put a collection of beers together featuring all of the breweries features, find it here in the shop.