Rivvy (Rivington Brewing Co) ‘Never known Fog Like It’ is a bit of a phenomenon on our farmers’ market stall. We pour samples for our customers on a regular basis. The most common reaction goes something like this.
Customer: – ‘What is that? – It looks…..er (wrinkled face)’
Us: – ‘Foggy? – Give it a smell’
Customer – ‘Crikey (or insert your own expletive). It smells….er (puzzled face)
Us – ‘Full on? – Give it a taste’
Customer: ‘Whooah – That’s amazing. It tastes er….(shocked, happy face)
Us – ‘We know!! – How many would you like?’
Customer ‘Give us 6. Will you be here next month?
(One month later)
Us: Morning. Good to see you. How are things?
Customer: ‘Never mind all that…have you got any more of that Fog?’
We have pretty much had everything Rivvy have bottled on our stall and enjoyed every one. Consequently, we have been up to visit Ben at Rivington Brewing Co quite a bit and he has been very generous with his advice and time. When we did our first 5 cask run of Holy Citra, Ben added it to his mailing list and it went out straight away and was a great help.
Our customers like to stop for a chat and find out about the people behind the beers they buy and so here we go with the first in our series of real brewers
Real Brewers – Ben from Rivington Brew Co.
Holy Well Brewing (HWB) – Hi Ben – We come across to see you so often that it seemed high time that we caught up and asked a few questions so that our customers can get to know you a bit better. Lets’ get the kit bit out of the way first. What size kit are you on?
Ben – Currently brewing on a 2.5bbl kit – planning to move to a 6bbl in the next year to 18 months.
HWB – What did you brew your first commercial beer on?
Ben – Little 1.5bbl – it got maxed out pretty quickly!
HWB – If you could have one bit of kit next, what would it be?
Ben – Whirlpool & Hop Gun. We will definitely be getting a Whirlpool on the next kit, will have to see about a Hop Gun.
HWB – And…do you have one small bit of kit that has been with you from the start that you couldn’t do without?
Ben – PH reader and Refractometer
HWB – How has the amount of time that you spend in the brewery morphed over the years?
Ben – Still do it alongside a day job, however that will reduce in hours until I go full time at the start of next year. Currently taking up a lot more time, even just admin, ordering, delivering, duty etc. so definitely need the extra time!
HWB – What does a typical week for you now look like?
Ben – Typically the week and evenings are for admin and deliveries, try and brew on Friday and/or Saturdays, but fairly varied based on what needs doing!
HWB – How do you and Mick divide your time?
Ben – Mick farms full time so tries to get involved on brewdays, and well help kegging in evenings etc. I do the brewing, deliveries, admin etc. hence me reducing my hours to spend more time on the brewery!
HWB – What bit of the process makes you tick? What gets you out of bed on a cold, morning?
Ben – Seeking to improve every beer every time we brew it, new or existing. New styles, more understanding, and good customer feedback – it will never get tiring seeing someone enjoy our beer!
HWB – Our friend Hannah has just had a few bottles. She loves your labels. How do they come about?
Ben – Majority are very last minute. There is no real recurring theme, just what we think of just before the deadline!
Ben – First bottles sold were at Barrica Wines for a tasting event. I was away so Mick did it. A lot of worry about feedback, what they were like etc. but real pride in people picking up the beers!
HWB – We love your tag line ‘Best served cold and enjoyed with pals. We agree. Beer is a social drink. Do you have a person or type of customer in mind when you brew?
Ben – We want to make our beer accessible to all – however it is usually the modern progressive beer audience that enjoys our beers. That being said we’re increasingly seeing all walks of people drinking our beer that we wouldn’t have expected.
HWB – I am pretty sure that you don’t fine your beers. Tell us about that.
Ben – From the start we didn’t want to fine – we loved the flavour of the likes of The Kernel when we first started out, and didn’t want to follow “the norm” in terms of fining locally – its great to see it become more accepted.
HWB – Out there in the beer world, do you have a current brewery/beer/styles that you look at and think ‘Wow’.
Ben – The quality and innovation of the Northern Scene really inspires us – the way Cloudwater have changed the scene and the recognition they have got, Northern Monk and Magic Rock, Track in Manchester are making some amazing stuff, Chorlton’s Sours continue to be spectacular, the variety and quality that Torrside brew.
Further a field the work and styles Little Earth Project are creating is amazing.
After doing a lot of pales, we really want to work on our Saisons and Mixed Ferm beers, the beers that Burning Sky create in the UK are absolutely amazing, and then abroad Fonta Flora and Forest & Main have absolutely blown our minds in terms of taste, drinkability, quality – breweries we want to aspire to!
HWB – You love a collaboration – Any that stick in the mind…any coming up?
Ben – The first with Torrside was brill and interesting, Beatnikz was great despite brewery breakdowns, James at Brewsmith was fantastic to see his attention to detail.
We’re due to brew with First Class, Torrside again and Jim from Beers Manchester.
In May we’re lucky enough to go to Portugal to brew with Dois Corvos for Manchester Beer Week!
HWB – We get lots of requests for ‘Fog’. It is a bit special. We now compare other beers against it as a benchmark. How did it come about?
Ben – When Magic Rock and Cloudwater first brought out New England/DDH style beers in Autumn 2016 they blew us away and we wanted to do one. Did some research, and brewed us Fog!
HWB – Tap Beneath the Trees sounds awesome. What do have planned for this year?
5 dates this year:
HWB – Any plans for the brewery over the coming months or years that you can share?
Ben – A bigger brewery within 18 months! More capacity on the current kit, permanent Tap Room and some Saison and Mixed Ferms!
Thanks for spending time answering our questions, Ben. We will be over for Tap Beneath the Trees. – Chris & Phil