Signature Brew is pumping life back into beer.
Interviews
13/11/2020 @system.social

Signature Brew is pumping life back into beer.

It's fair to say Signature Brew is more than 'just' a brewery. How would you describe it?

Signature Brew to me feels like a constant collaboration with such a wide revolving door of people. We do collaborations on beers with wicked musicians and brands, as well as operating a music venue in Haggerston and a permanent collaboration with We Serve Humans in Walthamstow called The Collab.

This year we started turning the brewery into a venue and just hit the ground running with it – despite everything that's been going on.

What sets you apart from other breweries?

We're definitely not the first to marry beer with music but we're definitely putting our money where our mouths are with it.

From turning the brewery into a venue, to actually owning a venue and then consistently collaborating with interesting musicians as well as hiring musicians at the brewery.

Dave from Black Peaks looks after all our audio tech business and then Josh and Jon from The Skints hold it down on our brewery bar.

It feels idealistic to assume people won't take these things for granted again, but the reaction from the gigs we've been doing here and the way people lit up when pubs re-opened really showed how much these things matter to people. 

Who founded Signature Brew and what’s your involvement?

Two cousins from Staffordshire, Tom & Sam, started Signature Brew a decade ago based on their love of drinking beer and going to gigs. I joined much later down the line and take care of programming the venue and brewery's events.

What does that entail?

It gets quite varied. Currently, I'm curating a stage at a festival next year, programming the events for the brewery's 10th anniversary, and then booking the gigs for us to come back to in the new year.

It's cool – it doesn't feel like I'm doing the same thing every day, there's enough variance in what we're doing that I get to have fun and put a part of my personality into it a little.

I think when you program and curate events it's a wicked way to express yourself through your work, I try hard to stay objective in terms of what kind of gigs we do or bands we work with but it's rewarding as hell to put some shows into the calendar or bands on a festival lineup that represent what I'm about.

Signature Brew is pumping life back into beer.

What do you look for in a collaboration?

I guess it just has to be an artist or brand that shares a similar mindset to ours. This year we've collaborated with Sports Team, Dynamite MC & DRS as well as Perky Blinders, our local coffee roasting mates. This Christmas we've made a beer with The Darkness.

Each one of those is so different from each other but all absolutely kill it at what they do, and the end result just makes sense y'know?

Since we've been doing gigs at the brewery it's opened us up to using our pilot kit a little more. We made a lemonade on it for a run of shows with Jamie Lenman and now we've done a small run of beers on it with Black Peaks. For the smaller runs like those it comes hand-in-hand with a gig in the brewery but for the nationwide collaborations it mostly just has to feel right!

Where were you working previously?

I worked for venues like The Underworld, The Dome, and The Green Door Store before as well as touring with bands like Minus The Bear and Frank Iero.

I spent a lot of time working at venues alongside touring, it was cool! I got to see a load of cool shit but then also see more cool shit at home when i got back from a tour.

To your mind, what is Signature Brew’s mission statement?

To sell good beer at good gigs!

How are you coping with changes to the hospitality and events industries?

I'll be honest, I feel like we've smashed it all things considered. I turned our 400-capacity brewery into an 80 capacity socially-distanced venue and had a mad run of sold-out shows up until this second lockdown.

We helped DIY Magazine celebrate their 100th issue with a week of gigs outside in our courtyard, as well as a tonne of our own shows. We did a beer collab with Dynamite MC and DRS and celebrated that with a socially distanced, seated rave with them, DJ Zinc and the Hospital Records crew at like 7pm. I don't think I'll ever see anything like that again!

We're definitely not the first to marry beer with music but we're definitely putting our money where our mouths are with it. 

What does that look like day to day?

A mad amount of reading through guidelines and regulations and then carrying a tape measure on me at all times when setting up for a gig.

At first, it was a crazy amount of rescheduling and headaches from looking at a calendar. But now it's more streamlined and easier to deal with, we've shifted our calendar by a few months making sure the rescheduled shows take priority in the new year.

Signature Brew is pumping life back into beer.

Do you think there are wider, permanent, lessons to be learned?

I think so, yeah. It feels naive now to not have a backup plan in place for any outcome.

The brewery as a whole feels now like we can smash it through whatever comes next, so I definitely think preparation and planning is a big lesson for everyone to have learned through all of this.

How do you see the future of both those industries?

Positively, for sure. It feels idealistic to assume people won't take these things for granted again, but the reaction from the gigs we've been doing here and the way people lit up when pubs re-opened really showed how much these things matter to people.

What's next for Signature Brew?

My focus stays on cementing the brewery as a good venue whilst celebrating ten years of beers throughout next year.

I'm excited to see our involvement at festivals come to fruition next summer and just keep aiming higher with what we can do here.

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