Getting to know BREW: Unity Brewing Co
If you have ever been to Southampton in Hampshire, you will probably have either visited the busy cruise terminal, Southampton Football Club or even the Swedish megastore IKEA. There is much to see and do in Southampton, but did you know that in the heart of the city lays an award winning brewery and taproom?
Unity Brewing Co was established in 2016 by Jimmy Hatherley and can be found along Princes Street, just off the A3024.
Since 2016, the business has achieved increasing sales and collaborated with well known breweries including Left Handed Giant, Deya, Lost & Grounded and Verdant, proudly and ambitiously representing the growing South Coast beer scene.
They currently produce around 6,000 pints of beer per week, focusing on brewing juicy pale ales, crisp Belgian-style farmhouse ales and a range of Belgian and American-influenced special seasonal and one-off brews. Their core range are; Conflux pale ale, Collision South Coast IPA, Congregate Belgian pale and Nocturne oatmeal porter and are sold nationally in bottle shops, bars and restaurants.
Like many micro-breweries, they have an adjoining taproom for anyone wishing to buy some beers on site, fill up their growlers to take away or buy some branded merchandise.
We caught up with Jimmy Hatherley, from Unity Brewing Co, to find out a little more about the brewery and what efforts they make to be environmentally friendly.
Q. How is your beer connected to the local area?
I grew up in Southampton and really wanted to produce beers that the people of Southampton could be really proud of. When We launched there were only a couple of brewpubs in Southampton so creating Southampton's brewery was an important thing for me.
In terms of ingredients, we like to go out foraging where possible and brew a few beers each year utilising the awesome ingredients found around the city, from elderflower to rose hips and spruce tips.
Q. What do you think is unique about your beer and your brewery?
We just try and make really high quality and ultimately satisfying beer that is relevant. We're not trying to blow anyone's mind with our beer. Beer is the ultimate social lubricant so we have always aimed to produce beer that helps facilitate conversation rather than dominating it.
Q. Are there any beer styles you are looking at tackling in the future that you haven’t done already?
We're not hugely into brewing loads of different styles, just focussing on quality and flavour. We're always looking for ways to make our beer as good as it can be, so we are always playing with new ingredients and never standing still, but I'm not gonna lie, we really enjoy brewing hoppy beers.
That said, I would really like to knock out a tasty Altbier.
Q. How important do you think collaborations are with other breweries?
Hugely important. It's one of the things that make our industry unique. Not only are they really fun, getting to spend time chatting and drinking beer with your peers, but they are also a great way to learn and develop as brewers.
Q. What efforts do you make to be environmentally friendly?
We use 100% renewable energy for our brewery and are always looking at ways to reduce our carbon footprint. We send all our used keykegs back to be recycled into new keykegs, package in recyclable cans and never use plastic tape for our recycled boxes. We're also looking into donating money each month to plant trees soon to of-set our carbon.
Q. What have been your biggest challenges? (Pre covid-19 and during the outbreak?)
Keeping up with the different demands of the market has been a challenge, making sure we're packaging in the right formats and getting the beers in the right places. Figuring out how much beer to make (or not to make) during lockdown was tricky. Turns out we should've been producing a lot more but we're nearing pre-covid volumes now.
Q. What has been your favourite beer you have produced?
So hard to say. Conflux will always be our favourite child and we've brewed so many beers we're so proud of. Our first collaboration with Duration, Ripples, a really nice table Saison came out exactly as we hoped. Our Double IPA Kalopsia that we brew once a year is pretty tasty.
Q. They say don’t judge a book by its cover, but how important do you think branding/package design is for your beers?
Massively! The artwork represents who you are as a company and the presentation of your products should be given the attention the beer in the can deserves. Our illustrator Matt Canning is an essential part of our team.
Q. Have you produced a beer that didn’t turn out how you wanted it to - either better or worse?
We've poured a fair amount of beer down the drain. Usually when things go well it's by design, it's when we're trying new things that don't go to plan it's an issue but if you don't try, you never know, you just have to be prepared to dump it if it doesn't work out.
Q. Do you feel that non-alcoholic beers have an important part to play in the craft beer industry?
I'm not so sure. It's good for people who drink beer but are driving, or just don't want to drink alcohol on a given day, but there's no getting away from the fact that enjoying alcohol responsibly is a big part of why we enjoy drinking beer.
Q. Will the UK leaving the EU cause you to have any production issues?
Ingredients prices, export issues, economic downturn, there's a lot of potential issues!
Q. What’s next for you over the next 12 months?
We're halting any expansion for the next year or so, so we're just doubling down on getting really good at being the size we are and focussing on making the beer as best as it can possibly be.
Q. Do you feel that craft beer breweries need to spend more money on traditional advertising to get a bigger share of the market or can this be done elsewhere?
Social media is essential for craft beer but we're looking into ways that we can talk to people outside of the bubble. Recruiting new drinkers rather than everyone talking to the same pool of people is going to be essential for craft beer to really move forward, and I think it's a mission a lot of people have forgotten about.
Huge thanks to Jimmy for agreeing to be interviewed. Please head on down to the taproom and grab some quaffable beers from Unity Brew Co.
About Unity Brewing Co
Address: 23-27 Princes St, Southampton, SO14 5RP
Online delivery: Yes
Rating on Untapped: 3.75 / 5