Getting to know BREW: Little Monster Brewing Co.
Updated: Oct 14, 2020
There’s a cuckoo in the nest…and it’s been brewing some amazing beers.
Have you ever wanted to start your own brewery? It’s a dream shared by many beer enthusiasts, but for others, it’s a dream that will never become a reality, not least due to the sheer costs of starting up your own brewery.
The finances required to set up your brewery will depend on how much beer you intend to produce, the location and what equipment you wish to buy. Brewing equipment is very expensive, especially if you are brewing for commercial purposes. You would need to have a mash system, a fermentation system, a cooling system, a filter system, a controlling system and a cleaning system plus a canning or bottling machine. All this plus ingredients and a sizeable property to brew in would set you back hundreds of thousands of pounds…and that’s before you’ve even brewed your first beer.
So, the next best thing to owning your own brewery is to brew in someone else’s, which is known as cuckoo or gypsy brewing.
Cuckoo Brewers don’t tend to have their own equipment and use that of another brewery. This can save a lot of money in the long run and gives brewers the opportunity to get their beers out to the marketplace, build their brand and find out if their beers are well received. This comes with less risk than owning and operating their own brewery. Little Monster Brewing Co, based in Chichester, West Sussex have done just that, and with great effect.
We caught up with Owner of Little Monster Brewing Co, Brenden Quinn to find out a little more about cuckoo brewing and the challenges he faces over the next 12 months.
Q. Can you give me a brief history about yourself and Little Monster Brew Co?
Hi, I’m Brenden Founder/Brewer of Little Monster Brewing Co. I started the brewery back in 2018. Before that I was home brewing back in 2011 after buying myself a home-brew kit. In 2014 I made the decision that this is what I wanted to do for a living and started volunteering at a number of breweries in London. I started with Gipsy Hill, then went to Fourpure, where they offered me a permanent position. I then moved to West Sussex and was Head Brewer at Arundel Brewery. After that Little Monster was born.
Q. What do you think the main benefits are to gypsy/cuckoo brewing?
I think the biggest for us is money, it's so expensive to build your own brewery (we will get our own) but while we are finding our feet, gypsy brewing is working out well. We also want to find the right site and make sure it works for us.
Q. What do you think is unique about the beer you produce?
I try to make the best beer possible, all brewers do. We don't always get it right, but I feel most of the beer has been true to its style and it's always balanced. We want to get the basics done right, get the styles we enjoy drinking more consistent and then we will start mixing it up more.
Q. What has been your biggest challenges?
The biggest challenge at the beginning was trying to find a suitable place to brew. It had to be right, it had to work for both parties. It took over a year and a half before we found a suitable place, that's how fussy I am. It had to be right. Current challenges now are not enough beer to supply the current demand.
Q. Are there any beer styles you are looking at tackling in the future?
We are going to try different styles and will look at expanding our beer range and doing some funky stuff as soon as we can.
Q. How important do you think collaborations are with other breweries and which breweries have you enjoyed working with?
It was very important for me, and for any other brewery, to do collaborations. It can really make a big difference and get your name out there and get some great exposure. It's not only about getting your name on the can, it’s the learning and the experience, sharing ideas with each other learning about something you might not know about. All my collaborations were important to me and I enjoyed working will all of them (we did 8) and I hope we can continue.
Q. What efforts do you make to be environmentally friendly?
We are trying to reduce our plastic usage, we use cans for all our beers, all our kegs are recyclable. Once we have our own place we will work with the local authorities to make sure we are doing the right things to keep our carbon footprint down. We send all our grain to local farmers. We are always looking at better ways to be environmentally friendly.
Q. They say don’t judge a book by its cover, but how important do you think branding/package design is for your beers?
Branding is very important in a very tough climate. So many new and existing breweries out there, all trying to find shelf space and keg lines. I love our branding. I love what it means (Little Monster is the pet name I gave my daughter).
We always get fantastic feedback on the name, the can art, etc. Saying that, we will always make sure we review our branding and make changes and keep up with the trends going forward.
Q. Do you feel that non-alcoholic beers have an important part to play in the craft beer industry?
Non alcoholic beers are already playing a big part in the beer industry. I think a lot of people are moving to non-alcoholic beers because of more healthy lifestyles and people want to cut out the alcohol. I think that we will see more and more of these beers in addition to gluten free beers.
Q. The small breweries relief fund debate is getting a little heated between many macro and micro breweries. Where do you stand on this matter?
It's going to be very, very tough for many of the small guys, including us. I think a lot of breweries are going to struggle and close down if it comes into play. We have had to re-look at our business plans and adjust accordingly to get through if it does happen. I just hope they do the right thing and retract the increase.
Q. The craft beer scene in Chichester, West Sussex is improving, with new bars opening up across the city (The Escapist, Sit and Sip and Hornet Ale House). Do you think that traditional pubs need to adapt to bring back the craft beer drinker?
Chichester beer scene is fantastic and has been for a little while, most of those you have mentioned are big supporters of us. I don't think the traditional pubs need to, most of them are owned by the big guys so I would rather have my beer in the independents and customers support the little guys. I think the traditional pubs have their own agenda and clients and it's not trying to pull in the craft beer drinkers.
Q. How important do you think reviewing platforms like Untappd are for the beer industry?
I have a love/hate relationship with Untappd. It's helped with a lot of distribution channels to Europe because we are rated fairly high so that's great. The other things like reviews are very hit and miss. Lots of false and untrue ratings. I just think of all the people who are drinking our beers and are not reviewing on Untappd so that's a positive.
Q. What’s next for Little Monster Brewing Co over the next 12 months?
We hope to have our own brewery and taproom along the coast somewhere between Worthing and Chichester, the timeframe is around 9 - 12 months. As I said earlier we want to make sure we find the right site and it works for us. We also will continue to bring some amazing beers new and old and hopefully some amazing collaborations also.
From the Author
A massive thanks to Brenden and Robbie from Little Monster Brewing Co. for agreeing to be interviewed during what is a very busy time for them.
Please do try their beer, it is exceptional and you will be helping out an independent craft beer brewer at a time where they definitely need all they help and custom they can get. You won't be disappointed.
About Little Monster Brewing Co
Address: N/A - but brewery coming soon.
Taproom: No, but coming soon!
Online delivery: Yes
Social Media: @littlemonsterbrew (Instagram)
Rating on Untapped: 3.93/5 based on 2,015 ratings