Getting to know BREW: Amity Brew Co
Updated: Nov 20, 2020
So far this year we have seen countless businesses close down, thousands of people losing their jobs and the hospitality sector being decimated by the covid crisis. But one thing that has proven to be successful is online ordering, especially where craft beer is concerned.
Many breweries have seen a 1500% increase in online sales since pubs closed on 23rd March, compared to the same period last year. However overall sales of beer were at their lowest level in 20 years due to breweries being unable to sell beer to pubs and bars.
So, starting up a new brewing business in 2020 is a very ballsy move, but for Russ Clarke, the Co-Founder of Amity Brew Co. and his team (based in Farsley, Leeds), it was now or never.
We caught up with Russ to find out more about their new venture, what beers they are looking to brew in the future and the importance of branding.
Can you give me a brief history about yourself and Amity Brew Co?
We [Amity Brew Co] are a group of friends who met on the craft beer scene having worked in the UK’s best breweries. I personally worked for BrewDog, Beer Hawk and North Brewing Co, and our brewer, Greig, also worked at BrewDog, and Buxton, where he was lead brewer bringing home the Top 100 RateBeer award for the team!
How is your beer connected to the local area?
Right now, we’re selling our core range (plus some seasonal specials) online and are aiming to open our North-West Leeds brewery and taproom in October 2020.
We have named our core range after the mills that we will be based in which is steeped in Yorkshire history. The Sunny Bank Mills have a rich history in textiles and manufacturing, the owners are very keen to see the mill producing for the community again.
What do you think is unique about your beer and your brewery?
We are inspired by the US model of brewpubs, making limited batch beer on-site and getting it into the hands of the community fresh and fast.
Amity stands for community, friendship and good beer. We make fresh, modern interpretations of classic beer styles, as well as experimenting with what’s new!
Are there any beer styles you are looking at tackling in the future?
Greig [Brewer] has been the mastermind behind this. When we first sat down and started to plan out what Amity would stand for, we realised that the beers we return to, and the beers that your average beer drinker loves, are one and the same thing.
The “classics” like Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Fullers ESB and Augustiner Helles are real touch points for all of us within the beer community, and a returning stop on our journey with beer education – they don’t get old, and they always taste amazing. We set ourselves the task of making our own interpretations of these styles, the US Pale Ale, an ESB and a Helles, and making them truly our own.
In terms of the future, we’ll be tackling other classics like a Milk Stout, but experimenting with what’s trendy at the moment with Double IPAs and Juicy Pale Ales!
How important do you think collaborations are with other breweries?
Our whole ethos is about working collaboratively within our community – whether that’s geographically or figuratively within the beer industry. Regardless of their location, we’d want to collaborate with breweries we can learn from and are inspired by. Since our time at BrewDog, we now have a huge gathering of friends at tonnes of other UK breweries including Fierce, Siren, Gypsy Hill, North, Salt, Northern Monk, Cloudwater...to name but a few – if we learn something from the experience, or try something new, then that’s a true collaboration.
What efforts do you make to be environmentally friendly?
We’re still in the planning stages of the brewery and taproom but we aim to be plastic free and reuse or repurpose our fixtures and furnishings. We also plan to donate our spent grain to the local pizzeria to be repurposed into sourdough.
What have been your biggest challenges?
Starting a business is all consuming at the best of times, but then Covid-19 hit and all bets were off!
Instantly, all of my freelance consulting work dried up, as did childcare. My amazing wife’s food and tech PR agency was thriving so I took on daddy daycare for our incredibly energetic 2-year old while juggling everything that came with starting a business.
It’s been a big challenge, like anyone in lockdown, I’ve had to work evenings, weekends and in between my toddler’s naps but this has been a brilliant opportunity to show our resilience, and try and share some good news in spite of the pandemic.
It’s either pretty damn brave, or very foolhardy to try and do something like this at a period of time like this – but it really was now or never – and incredibly, the response and feedback has been phenomenal – both from the local community in which we’ll be based, as well as the beer community online.
Two days after launch, we had sold 2/3 of our first batch of three core beers were online for pre-order, it’s blown us away how people have chosen to support us, without even having tried the beer yet!
They say don’t judge a book by its cover, but how important do you think branding/package design is for your beers?
It was very important to us to have a consistent and different design. Our Head of Design has pulled together some thoughts on this: Comment from Tom Matthews, Head of Design at Amity Brew Co.
The goal of Amity Brew Co was to take some of our most beloved traditional beer styles and bring them into the modern era, therefore the branding had to involve a mix of the old and the new, traditional and modern, to really succeed in championing this ethos.
The logo represents this by drawing inspiration from poster ads from the 50’s and 60’s and using a friendly and almost nostalgic cursive font for the main brand name. The supportive text uses a more modern san serif font to create a clean and easily legible accompaniment. The logo is tilted upwards and forwards as a sign of progression and growth. The can design was born of the simple thinking that each beer should have its own identity.
This identity is formed by colour and shape. So often with beer can design there is a temptation to do too much, this is something I wanted to avoid with Amity.
I personally have been standing in a supermarket aisle for what feels like an age just trying to find the ABV on an over elaborate beer label too many times! The concept for the Amity cans was to start with a clean, simple base and represent each style with a specific shape and colour identity that could be recognised at first glance, but also transcend beyond the can itself and almost become a brand in its own right. Something that you could be standing 10 feet away from the can but you would still recognise exactly what each one was. This paired with an enlarged logo that is both striking, yet comforting to create the juxtaposition between those traditional and modern values.
Also, having a history in fashion e-commerce, I always had an eye on what would translate to merchandise. A t-shirt with one clean base colour with logo on the front and the graphic on the back so each side has its own identity but they are both working together to create one thing and stickers where the logo isn’t even shown on the graphics so their identity can speak for itself.
Tom’s bio: Tom began his career in fashion design and branding before moving onto working at e-commerce platform Beer Hawk before moving into the role at Amity Brew Co.
Do you feel that non-alcoholic beers have an important part to play in the craft beer industry?
Absolutely, we want to cater for everyone and the AF movement can’t be ignored. We’d like to create a replica of our core range as AF, we just need a bit of time to settle into the new brewery first.
What’s next for Amity Brew Co. over the next 18 months?
Honestly, just to get our brewpub open! Aiming for an October 2020 launch, we’ll be opening the pub alongside starting to brew there, and then make sure we can supply the thirsty local community with enough beer.
It’s going to be a case of suck it and see, and gauging demand from the surrounding residents as well as the online shop is going to be the biggest challenge over our first year…we’re a bit worried we might not be able to brew enough beer!
Visit Amity Brew Co and check out their selection of craft beers and merchandise.