Have you ever visited Portsmouth in Hampshire and wondered what there is to do in neighbouring Gosport?
Well, if craft beer is your thing, then you might want to jump on the ferry across the Solent, and head over to Fallen Acorn Brewing Co for some award winning beers.
Fallen Acorn Brewing Co was established in 2016, taking over the existing brewery premises from Oakleaf Brewery after they fell into administration in August of that year.
Fallen Acorn’s Head Brewer, Ed Anderson, continues to brew some of Oakleaf’s award winning beers, in addition to a range of cask-conditioned ales and bottled craft beer from their 20 barrel brewery, creating everything from refreshing golden ales, hoppy IPAs, full-bodied porters, stouts and crisp lager.
They also have the ability to brew an array of quirky beers such as Baltic Porters, infused with Lapsang Souchong, and Rhubarb & Custard Saisons from their 100 litre pilot brewery.
Like many micro-breweries, they have an adjoining taproom for anyone wishing to try some beers on site and fill up their growlers to take away.
We caught up with Tim Hoolahan, from Fallen Acorn Brewing Co, to chat about topics ranging from how their beer is connected to the local community to the importance of beer branding.
Q. How is your beer connected to the local area?
We are a brewery born of and deeply rooted in our local community, both through our taproom, events, and the beers themselves.
Our taproom is our hub, sharing beer with the community is what makes what we do worth while. We are home to the Gosport 545 running club, as well as having a great relationship with local recording studio and practise rooms Quay West Studios.
Pompey Royal is a recipe handed down through generations of breweries locally, with artwork from local photographer Johnny Black, giving 5p a pint back to our local hospitals charity. From the pubs who buy our beer, to the faces we see week in week out, community is what inspires us to go further.
Q. What do you think is unique about your beer and your brewery?
We're a brewery where you can get a pastry stout next to a golden ale, a smoothie sour next to a best bitter.
That mix of exploring all styles is really exciting - we hate the beer snobbery you see on both sides of the coin - what is beer? It's a huge spectrum. We want to celebrate that.
Q. Are there any beer styles you are looking at tackling in the future that you haven’t done already?
We’re open to everything, we’re starting to expand our Barrel Ageing program, and we'd love to try some wild beer styles.
Pushing what craft beer can be is always fun, we are excited to be able to experiment with new ingredients and making beers bigger and more insane. But we also want to push what traditional beer can be, try modern techniques on old styles, and vice versa.
Q. How important do you think collaborations are with other breweries?
They’re a great way to learn, but they're more about that community aspect for us. Beer is built on community, and if we can stretch that nationwide, or internationally, that's amazing.We want to collaborate all we can in the future.
Q. What efforts do you make to be environmentally friendly?
Our environmental impact has always been massively important to us - from our packaging, to on site recycling, even up to our routing for deliveries, we try to ensure our footprint is minimal as possible, and are always looking for new ways to improve on this.
Our grain goes directly to local farmers, reducing the cost and impact of transporting it and drying it elsewhere.
Q. What have been your biggest challenges? (Pre covid-19 and during the outbreak?)
Covid-19 has obviously thrown a lot of challenges our way. Adapting into home delivery, and the set up that took, especially spending half the day filling growlers, took a huge strain on the team, who dealt with it in an incredibly positive way. People don't see what goes on behind the scenes to run a brewery day to day - let alone having to do that on top.
The change in every aspect of how we operated could have been a disaster without the people we have on site. We are only a small team and everyone had and continues to have a 'side before self' mentality.
The changes to the Small breweries’ relief will be a big challenge going forward. We hope everyone can back the petition [https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/334066] that is out at the moment, and help shape a better future for us, and thousands of small, independent breweries across the country.
Pre-covid we have mostly had the challenge of changing perceptions.
The old school mindset of 'I'm not drinking that, it's cloudy, I'm going to get gut rot' vs craft drinkers going 'this twiggy old brewery can't do any good juice, surely?’. For us education is so important and luckily we're blessed with a community around us that is open minded to both sides. All of our team here love both sides, it shouldn't be split, it should just be one beer loving family.
Q. What has been your favourite beer you have produced?
Right now, I'm loving Binary Sunset - it was our first experiment with double mashing a big imperial stout, and it's opened up new doors to us.
I'm a huge NEIPA fan, and I've loved bringing these into our core range, but Hole Hearted on cask is probably my 'forever reliable' pint that I'll never get bored of.
Q. They say don’t judge a book by its cover, but how important do you think branding/package design is for your beers?
For us it's really been a lesson in how much people do judge books by their cover. Our traditional styles used to be branded in quite a traditional style, and although we were brewing things like sour IPAs, DIPAs, and saisons for years - even before they became commonplace - no one would look at us as anything but a real ale brewery.
Lockdown gave us a chance to press fast forward on our planned brand refresh, and it's brought all of our styles together to look like one brand, and we've had a whole new market open up. It's a shame but people have so much good quality choice now, you have to stand out to be given the chance to show off what you can do.
Q. Have you produced a beer that didn’t turn out how you expected it to - either better or worse?
We pilot 99% of our recipes before scaling them, so when it does happen it allows us to play with the recipes and perfect them. We'd rather tip a batch than put something out that isn't up to the standard we were striving for.
Q. Do you feel that non-alcoholic beers have an important part to play in the craft beer industry?
Generally I find non alcoholic beers to be disappointing, so have tended to avoid them.
I think the soft drinks industry has really woken up since craft beer became more prominent, and they've stepped up their game, with focus on ingredient quality over low cost.
Cloudwater has brought out a range of fruited and hopped soda. You can get some great table beers - The Kernel and Northern Monk both smash that low ABV bracket. But in general I'd rather have a soft drink than a non alcoholic beer.
Q. Will the UK leaving the EU cause you to have any production issues?
The lack of clarity of what the final picture will look like is the biggest stumbling block at the moment.
We have a great relationship with suppliers and brewers from the EU, and want to develop those relationships further after Brexit, not close them off.
We've also seen an increase in new, exciting UK hops over the last few months, so hope this may continue to grow.
Q. What’s next for you over the next 12 months?
We're just wanting to do more of the same - slowly growing our range, experimenting, growing our tap room, expanding where we can get beer into.
We miss beer festivals more than anything, and as soon as things are back to normal we want to visit people at as many as possible.
Expect to see more styles and more fun!
Q. Do you feel that craft beer producers need to spend more money on traditional advertising to get a bigger share of the market or can this be done elsewhere?
We live in a social media world, which has made it a lot easier to connect with an audience.
Big beer can afford all the advertisement in the world, so competing in that traditional market is largely pointless. It allows us to be more creative. Marketing isn't just advertising, it's creating our events, our beer, and our people are the biggest advert we need. Word of mouth is still king. It's just digital now.
About Fallen Acorn Brewing Co.
Address: Unit 7, Clarence Wharf, Industrial Estate, Mumby Rd, Gosport PO12 1AJ
Online delivery: Yes
Rating on Untapped: 3.71 / 5