Tap Social is a brewery with a unique mission. Founded in 2016 by sisters Tess and Amy Taylor and Amy’s partner, Paul Humpherson, it started out of a passion for good beer and social justice.
“We each had several years of experience working in the criminal justice sector and recognised the immense lack of support and opportunity for people coming out of prison. We wanted to create a business that’d provide people with effective rehabilitation and a proper second chance, and decided that the brewing industry was the perfect environment to do that; being vibrant and stimulating, massively growing across the country, and full of like-minded and friendly people”, Tess explains.
Based in Oxford, their criteria when looking for a home for the brewery was slightly unusual.
“We had to put ourselves nearby to a category D open prison to enable us to get guys out on day release programmes to work with us. The community here is incredible; we’ve had so much support and have become a hub for so many diverse groups of people. We feel really grateful that we’ve landed in such a welcoming and supportive city”.
Having started with a relatively tiny 1000L brew kit, within a year the team were brewing at full capacity and struggling to meet demand. Last year they took on a second site in Oxford, trebling their capacity in the process. But their progress goes way beyond traditional business metrics.
“Another exciting milestone has been seeing the journey of one of our employees, Colin. Colin was the first person to ever come out to work with us from HMP Springhill, the open prison we do a lot of work with, in 2017. Two years on, Colin is now employed with us full time, as our taproom and events supervisor. He’s such a key part of our team and it’s been so humbling to see him excel in life post-release”, gleams Tess.
Goodsize, Eh? was the first beer Tap Social ever brewed, back in November 2016. Tess tells us a bit more about it.
“Our head brewer, Jason Bolger, created the recipe and went straight for it right after we’d installed our 1000L kit. We all cracked open a bottle together a couple of weeks later and were so stoked with the result. It’s become our flagship beer and definitely our most well-recognised brew. Within a couple of months of brewing it, it won runner up at the Oxfordshire Beer Festival. It’s a delicious American Pale Ale with loads of floral and fruity notes and a nice piney resinous character that you’d expect from the American hops. It has a good bitter kick and a lot of citrus flavours". We asked if the story behind the name was publishable. She’d only say it was inspired by a close friend back in Canada, where Amy and Tess are from.
The artwork for this beer, along with the other beers in Tap Social’s range, is created by men currently serving - either at HMYOI Aylesbury or HMP Huntercombe.
We asked Tess what the team have got planned for the coming months and years.
“We’ve got a lot planned for the next year, all revolving around scaling up both the brewery and the programmes we run for people serving/recently released from prison. We’re looking at expansion of our brewery again to increase capacity before summertime and have exciting plans to start canning around the same time. We’re also focusing on recruitment for the guys that we work with. We’ve partnered with a few companies in other industries to be able to offer work placements in other cities and other sectors and to ensure that the men we train have ample opportunity upon release”.
Their amazing taproom in Oxford is open daily and hosts live music, street food, comedy, festivals, fundraisers, weddings and private parties.