One of Daniel Lowe’s first executive orders as co-founder of Fourpure Brewing Co. was giving somebody else the keys to his beer.
“With 60 breweries in London now, we feel that we need to be at the top of our game and need to be producing great beer,” says Lowe. “I’m a homebrewer and I love brewing, but I was taught by someone I used to work for that you need to build a great team and hire people who are better than you.”
Following an extensive search with his brother and business partner Tom, Lowe hired John Driebergen, formerly of London’s well-established Meantime Brewing Company, as Fourpure’s head brewmaster. Now operating out of the Bermondsey Trading Estate industrial park since October 2013, Fourpure is one of six microbreweries located within an approximately 1.5-mile radius of each other in Bermondsey, a largely residential district in Southwark.
Almost all brewmasters get their start by homebrewing, but it’s somewhat rare to see a homebrewer with the means and vision to launch their own brewery so willingly step aside and let somebody else handle the “fun” part. That’s one of the things I found so fascinating while speaking with Lowe about Fourpure and its first year in business, which by all accounts has been a successful one. Still, he was quick to point out that while Driebergen ultimately has the final say on the beers and beer recipes, it’s still very much a group effort.
“We have a small-scale brew kit that produces 100 liters of a beer at a time, so each time we work on a recipe and want to evolve it, we all talk about it first and then generate some iterations there,” he says. “We’ll then come back to the rest of the team to taste it, talk about it, and we’ll move it from there. It’s absolutely a collaborative approach to the business.”
The brewing kit to which Lowe refers is actually his old homebrewing kit, which today is used for those taste tests and for experimental beers that are part of Fourpure’s “Outpost Series.” In addition to the small-batch Outpost brews, Fourpure pours a variety of seasonals and hangs its hat on six core beers that range from the refreshing, highly drinkable Session IPA to a rich, toasty oatmeal stout. Each of these core beers — and likely their others too — were influenced by the Lowe brothers’ travels around the world.
It’s an interesting branding hook, one reflected by a world map in Fourpure’s taproom that’s marked with coasters on those destinations that inspired the beers. Every can of Fourpure beer is also uniquely marked with an “Inspired By” stamp that’s not unlike one you might find in your passport. Given the number of highly regarded craft breweries in the United States, it’s no surprise that four of Fourpure’s core beers are stamped with US destinations: California (Pale Ale), Colorado (Amber Ale), New York (Session IPA), and Oregon (IPA).
Speaking of US craft breweries, collaborations between two or more breweries have become a fairly common occurrence (as they have in Europe, for that matter), but at the moment Lowe says Fourpure’s focus in these early days is squarely, understandably, on quality and consistency. A collaboration beer with one or more of the other Bermondsey breweries seemed to make some sense to me, but when the time is right–and my sense is that that time will likely be within the next year or so–Lowe anticipates working with peers from more further-flung destinations.
“When we do a collaboration, we want it to be something that’s interesting and meaningful, and something that represents us and our ethos,” he says. “We would be unlikely to do a collaboration with a craft brewery in London because it doesn’t really articulate who we are with a style.”
Given Fourpure’s focus on travel, that actually isn’t a surprise at all.
Fourpure Brewing Co. is located at 22 Bermondsey Trading Estate, Rotherhithe Road, London. The brewery’s taproom is open every Saturday from 11am – 5pm; beers range from £1.50 for 1/3 pints to £6 for a full pint.
Photos kindly provided by and courtesy of Fourpure Brewing Co.