Oliver Webb was studying at the Slade School of Fine Art in London when he decided that it would be a good idea to build a Tiki bar in his studio for a bit of fun outside of lectures. His fellow students loved it. The police didn’t.
“It was shut down after 9 or so months when we were deemed to be in breach of licensing laws. They took it OK”, laughs Oli.
The standard tipple in your average Tiki bar is exotic, rum-based cocktails, but Oli also began to brew beers to serve at the venue and soon got the bug for decent beer. So much so that when he finished his degree and returned to his hometown of Birmingham, a brewery was the logical next step. Only this time he would follow the letter of the law in setting it up.
Oli teamed up with the famous Mad O'Rourke's Pie Factory from the Black Country to make the Digbeth site possible, converting a former clothes warehouse into an incredible brewery and taproom, complete with a lagering tank under the bar, serving up some of the best grub and grog in Brum. Well worth a visit if you’re in town. We asked Oli why the location in Digbeth, an up and coming part of Birmingham, was so important to him;
“Digbeth is a bit like Brooklyn and Shoreditch of old, and other generic ex-industrial areas within cities, in that property developers are always talking about the potential of the area, but if you actually come here you will see and believe in it and the people working here now. We have some of the best people in the world working all around us in fields from contemporary fine art to body shops and carpentry. I am sure you can get anything you could ever need making within Digbeth and the rest of the West Midlands and to a world class standard as well. We want to be a part of that”.
This week’s beer is a nod towards the region’s brewing heritage. Oli explains;
“9th July was the date that the brewing team at Holden's and Dig Brew first got together to start talking about recipes and collabs. Holden's is a very old family-owned brewery in Dudley, The Black Country. It marks our first attempts to use the spirit of collaboration that we have learned from the global craft beer industry to bring our brand into the hyper-traditional and historical pubs throughout the West Midlands. It is a variation on the recipe for 'Black Country Bitter' - Holden's core bitter - we used their house yeast that has been on the go for hundreds of generations (yeast not human generations) - we tweaked the malt bill to include a bunch of flaked and malted oats, we bittered using Fuggles hops from Kent, true to the traditional style, but then used Citra, Mosaic and Simcoe in the Whirlpool and Cryo Mosaic in the dry hop”.
The other beers in the Dig Brew Co range are equally forward-thinking, tasting as good as they look and what you’d expect from a former art student running a brewery, all above board of course.
You can buy a mixed case of Dig Brew Co beers here.