The idea to start Gipsy Hill Brewing Company was hatched in 2013 by Charlie Shaw and Sam McMeekin. They’d been introduced to each other by a mutual friend who was aware that they both had daydreams of building their own breweries.
They must have hit it off because, after a few beers in The Rake, an infamous South London craft beer boozer, a plan was hatched. They would sack their day jobs, start new lives as brewers and make great ‘dad beers’. That is, both Charlie and Sam were relatively new parents and wanted to make the sort of flavourful, modest strength beers that they could enjoy and still be capable of responsible parenting duties.
By the spring of 2014, they had leased a unit in their South London neighbourhood and brought in Simon Wood to be their head brewer. Within a few busy months, the locals were drinking Southpaw, Hepcat, and Beatnik which remain some of the brewery’s most popular beers to date.
All of these beers followed a similar theme, in fitting with the Gipsy Hill mantra and a deliberate attempt to demonstrate how much flavour you can get in an unfashionably traditional strength beer. The result was a range of beers that could best be described as ‘inclusive’. Beers that are as much at home in a dimpled pint mug as they are in a fancy craft beer glass.
This feeling of inclusivity is no accident. From their socially and physically accessible taproom to their community tap where the proceeds from the beer poured from there helps support local charities or projects. There is a strong community ethos at Gipsy Hill.
Even their artwork (by local artist and illustrator Marcus Reed) depicts members of the brewing team, bar staff and extended friends and family. This is a really nice way of making us all feel a bit closer to the brewery by knowing a bit more about the people who work there.
This week’s beer, Baller, which fittingly features co-founder Charlie on the can, Is the perfect example of what a modern-day IPA should be. Big hops (Citra and Mosaic to be precise), bright flavours and a super smooth body. Originally a one-off special, the popularity of Baller has seen the beer become part of Gipsy Hill’s core range, a move that we for one, are pretty pleased about.
In the words of Charlie, Baller goes well with big livin’ and splashing out.