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Getting to know BREW: Mondo Brewing Company

Mondo Brewing Company (Photo credit: Nic Crilly-Hargrave)

When travelling around the world you often gain knowledge and appreciation of the cultures and locations you visit, whether that’s by learning to speak a foreign language, meeting new people or picking up some culinary ideas. What you then decide to do with those influences can be really important. If, like the guys over at Mondo Brewing Company, you have gained knowledge from different cultures in a beer brewing capacity on your travels then it makes sense to bring your newfound expertise to the forefront of a new venture, namely setting up your own brewery.

Globetrotting Americans Thomas Palmer and Todd Matteson met working at a brewery in East London back in 2013. A year later they decided to go it alone and set up Mondo Brewing Company. Now, just a stone’s throw from the iconic Battersea Power Station, they brew beers influenced from the various beer styles associated with the cultures they’ve experienced from their travels around the world.

We caught up with Tom Harrison, Events & Marketing Manager at Mondo Brewing Company, to find out about what’s unique about the brewery, the importance of collaborations and what the small breweries relief fund changes will mean to them.

Q. Can you tell me a little about Mondo Brewing Company?

We are an independent brewery, founded in 2014, situated a stone’s throw away from the iconic Battersea Power Station. You can (usually) enjoy an accessible range of core beers at our bespoke tap house, with each month bringing a varied range of seasonals and collaborations. We keg, can and bottle our beer, with a little cask ale here and there. We've got a nice web shop too.

Q. How is your beer connected to the local area?

We’re proud of our postcode and local trade has always been a focus of ours. Yes, we want to see Mondo beer throughout London, nationally and internationally but never at the expense of serving our local community. Our tap house has operated since we first packaged beer onsite and it’s always been wonderfully supported by our locals, even more so with this year’s events. Whatever growth we have in the future, we’ll always have our roots in the Battersea area.

Q. What do you think is unique about your beer and your brewery?

My business partner, Thomas Palmer, and I first met working at a brewery in East London back in 2013, where we were on the same brewing shift. We both had plans of starting our own breweries outside of the UK. However, after many late night discussions we realised that there was an opportunity for us to start something in London and use our American roots and experiences from around the globe to put our own stamp on the storied brewing scene here. (Todd Matteson, Co-Founder)

Q. How do you decide on what new beers to brew?

We complement our core beers with a consistent range of seasonal beers, that allow us to experiment with style and engage with new techniques. Over the last couple of years we’ve settled on a few styles that work really well for us, being a 6.2% IPA in the Mountain/No Coast style, a sub-5% DDH Pale and the popular Fruited Gose. It’s been fun to refine these over time with different hops and adjuncts. We always aim to brew styles that we enjoy ourselves and remain accessible to a wide audience. Collaborations allow us to think even further outside the box on recipe development.

Collaboration with The Queer Brewing Project

Q. How important do you think collaborations are with other breweries?

So important! A perfect opportunity to share ideas, skill sets and have a lot of fun in the process. We’ve been lucky with our American roots to collaborate with some great breweries across the pond, such as J. Wakefield and 2nd Shift. Recent UK collaborations have included Marble, Gipsy Hill, Fierce and most recently at our neighbours, Belleville. We have a couple of brewery-to-brewery collaborations coming up in 2021 and we’re also planning the next beer in our Progress Series, following our brown ale collaboration with The Queer Brewing Project.

Q. What have been your biggest challenges over the last 12 months?

We had been working on a new website and web shop pre-lockdown as online sales was a key focus of ours this year. With that project not set to be completed until early summer, we were forced to pivot quickly when the first lockdown came into place and get a temporary web shop up and running. We ended up shifting all the beer in tank into cans and bottles exclusively, and online sales took off. In a way, lockdown really helped us to get a head start on realising our goal of creating a really nice online ordering experience. The consumer buying behaviour has changed for the long-term, we think, which is only good for our industry. We’re still here and confident of bigger things in 2021.

Q. What has been your favourite beer you have produced?

Dennis Hopp’r is not just a customer favourite, but universally loved within the brewery. It’s our biggest selling beer and our flagship IPA. Cult favourite Figgie Smalls always goes down well, and we had a lot of fun with aging that in French Oak Chardonnay barrels last year. This year, our Milk Thief NEIPA with Brau Kollektiv has been our best rated beer and we’re excited about our next barrel release, Galileo Imperial Stout, released this month, brewed with Heretic Brewing.

Q. They say don’t judge a book by its cover, but how important do you think branding/package design is for your beers?

We refreshed the brand in February 2019 and it was the next step for us as a business really. Aligning ideas and bringing everything under one visual language.

We work with illustrator Luke Drozd to present something fun, colourful and hopefully different in a craft beer industry overflowing with great artwork. It shouldn’t get in the way of the beer, but we understand how important the visuals are here at Mondo and we couldn’t do it without Luke.

Q. Do you feel that non-alcoholic beers have an important part to play in the craft beer industry?

Massively. Friends of the owners, Athletic Brewing in Connecticut and Big Drop, Lucky Saint and Small Beer here in the UK are doing great things. We’ve toyed more with low ABV 2.8% Micro IPAs this year and we’re open minded as to producing non-alcoholic in future. It’s a growing market and we’re right behind a lifestyle decision to cut back on alcohol, while still enjoying great beer.

Q. The small breweries relief fund debate is getting a little heated between many macro and micro breweries. Will the change of the fund affect you?

We were on schedule before the pandemic to pass the hectolitre production that the relief relates too, so change was something we were preparing for as a company. It’s obviously a massive support to a certain size of brewery, and has been to us, and we’ve been right behind the industry call to fight any changes.

Q. What’s next for you over the next 12 months?

We’re looking to add a few more 60HL fermentation vessels in our existing site next year, as well as opening a second tap house in South West London. Our longer-term plans are to build a bespoke brewery on a farm property south of London, where we’ll have more brewing capacity, a farm-to-table restaurant and a visitor centre. Despite the current state of affairs, we’re very excited about the future of the company.

About Mondo Brewing Company

Address: Mondo Brewing Company, 86-92 Stewart’s Road, London, SW8 4UG

Taproom: Yes

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