Birmingham Brewing Co, Bitter Brummie
Until last year Paul Harwood was a risk manager for a large banking group by day and a home brewer by night. A sort of brewing superhero alter-ego.
Home brewing had been a hobby of Paul's since university where he’d started simply as a means to have a source of cheap beer for him and his mates. But what started as a form of austerity became more than just a hobby as he embarked upon a life in finance. Brewing became a form of escapism for Paul, providing something that his office job lacked. Pretty soon he was wondering if his hobby could become his day job.
When the opportunity for redundancy appeared he stuck his hand in the air and waved. We want to imagine that he started slacking off and turning out shoddy work but we’ve met him a few times now and we’re struggling to think of a nicer and more conscientious chap.
Towards the latter half of 2016 Paul was committed to starting a brewery, only he was having trouble trying to find suitable premises in Birmingham. Undeterred he ordered a 100 litre kit and started converting his garage. He was going to start small and see where that took him.
Then, with the pilot kit on order, he found a decent property in the ‘up and coming’ Stirchley district in South Birmingham. Simultaneously he happened upon a second hand five barrel brewing kit. The pilot kit never got used and in November 2016 the Birmingham Brewing Company was established.
Everything takes longer than you anticipate when starting a business. Paul had the usual challenges of scaling up his home brew recipes and finding pubs and bottle shops willing to buy from him. As well as dealing with other challenges like small fires in the brewery.
By March this year the Bitter Brummie and Pale Brummie were starting to appear in cask, keg and cans across Birmingham. The locals loved it. They finally had a local beer to be proud of again.
The name certainly helps as does the abstract representation of Birmingham landmarks on the label (designed by his mate Tom Evans). But it’s the beer that they love the most.
We chose to feature Bitter Brummie, Paul’s take on a classic session or ordinary bitter. It’s a real working class beer and an overlooked style amongst craft brewers nowadays. This one has all the classic components of a great bitter with rich caramel flavours from the malts balanced with some traditional hops for bitterness. All set against a very sensible 4.2% abv. What really elevates this beer are the finishing touches. First up it has been dry hopped with Target Hops to provide a whiff of liquorice. The beer is unfiltered and unfined and it is also can conditioned so you can expect a bit of haze from the American ale yeast used. Yup, Paul has made a truly modern bitter.
The beer scene is changing (for the better) in Birmingham and is finally catching up with the bakeries, cafes and independent stores that are popping up all over the city. We couldn’t be happier.
You can listen to the full interview with Paul here.