Just over four years ago, things began to stir in the basement of a pub near Dalston. Logan Plant began brewing what would soon become the locally, then nationally and internationally celebrated, Beavertown beers.
Since 2014 the company has been ensconced in an industrial unit with a vastly expanded brewing capacity in Tottenham Hale. Given the vibrantly illustrated Beavertown cans and the ‘Gamma Ray’ branded delivery van, we can’t rule out plans for intergalactic takeover in the near future…
The British Pub Association says pubs in the UK were closing at a rate of 29 per week in 2015. The closures have been blamed on a wide variety of factors from cheap supermarket booze to high taxes on mass-produced generic beer.
But while the traditional pub may or may not be dying out, there is a revolution brewing across the country – with the focus very much on quality over quantity. Come to the Beavertown tap room and you’ll find servings of only 1/2 or 2/3 pints, while the 330ml standard cans of high ABV IPAs, stouts and smoked porters represent the ideal serving to sample their wide range and to take away.
While Beavertown is now very much a part of the social landscape in Tottenham, it was born a few miles to the south. In December 2011, Logan set up in the basement of the recently closed 18th-century Duke of York in De Beauvoir Town, or as it was then known locally, Beavertown, while serving authentic American BBQ upstairs in his Duke’s Brew and Que restaurant.
Nick Dwyer, Beavertown’s creative director, explains the origins of the company’s name: “It actually comes from the turn of the 20th century when the locals felt that De Beauvoir Town sounded too posh for such an industrial area.”
The popularity of the beer and the food soon resulted in the brewery relocating to Hackney Wick, before increased demand finally brought Beavertown to the Lockwood Industrial Estate, just off Mill Mead Road.
In the summer of 2014, Beavertown opened to the public with the launch of a tap room on Saturday afternoons showcasing their range, alongside a constantly rotating guest food outlet from local areas.
Visit the tap room now on any given Saturday and you’ll find an eclectic mix of young families, students, football fans, CAMRA members and those who just like a decent beer.
When we drop in to interview him, Nick pours us 2/3 of a pint of Lupuloids No.1, the latest in the long line of small batch IPAs brewing at Beavertown.
So, what is the ethos behind Beavertown? Nick says it’s not about ‘gentrification’ but about making the best possible beer they can at an affordable price: “Beer is an extension of something people are already familiar with and love – we’re not bringing a product that we perceive as ‘change’,” he says. “Fundamentally, it’s in our interest to make the best beer we possibly can, that’s it. The reason I came on board as an illustrator, for example, is to make sure the beer looks and feels very much on the outside as it tastes on the inside – genuine, and not to be showy for the sake of it.”
Indeed, taste is paramount and outweighs any other consideration – which surely sums up one of the main advantages of independent business. Low-pricing chains, in Nick and Logan’s opinion, are the enemy of every private enterprise that sets itself apart by sourcing top quality, healthy ingredients, paying its staff well, and setting a higher bar rather than just pricing low.
Yet the extra costs aren’t passed onto the tap room’s customers. For instance, think where you might struggle to find a pint of beer for under a fiver in London. Yet Beavertown sells their 1/2 and 2/3 pint, stemmed schooners for £2 and £2.50 respectively. And this isn’t about ABV – they range from the 4.3% ABV Session IPA, Neck Oil, to the hearty 7.4% Black Betty IPA.
Value for money is at the core of the Beavertown strategy. They wish to develop a range that focuses on rich, hoppy flavours and constantly developing seasonal limited editions, with an emphasis on the highest quality. For instance, Beavertown switched the product line from bottles to cans to protect the beer from light pollution, and to ensure that the freshest possible beer was delivered to the customer.
The ABV of most of the range is higher than you’d imagine for your average pub beer. This is because they are designed to be enjoyed and savoured. Nick appreciates that education surrounding ABV and quantities is important, along with encouraging responsible drinking. In fact, he says, the brewery would love to work with Haringey Council on helping to curb antisocial drinking.
So, where does the inspiration behind the branding come from? Nick, a graduate of St Martins and an illustrator by trade, joined Beavertown in 2013 following submission of designs for two short-run prototypes that would eventually become part of the Beavertown core range – Gamma Ray and Black Betty.
Logan’s origins are a little more rock and roll. Formerly the singer with The Sons of Albion, he discovered craft beer and great barbecue food while on tour in the USA, and he was keen to bring some back home.
As a creative, Nick finds it liberating to work with Beavertown briefs, as he just vibes off the pop culture that Logan loves, from comics to movies. Nick credits the brand’s creative success to sharing a similar outlook on life to Logan.
So what was the creative process like? “I’d just show drawings to Logan based on an email of buzzwords he’d send me,” he explains. “I’d never take in sketches, only pretty much finished work. As a result of initially vibing off stuff I knew he was interested in, I knew it would work.”
Since moving to Tottenham, Logan and Nick have seen a big and, in their opinion, welcome change to the area, with a host of new independent food and drink outlets such as Craving Coffee, Chicken Town and Styx.
Rather than operate in isolation, Nick and Logan are keen to form relationships with local businesses. For instance, their neighbours on the Lockwood estate, Fifth Column screen t-shirt printing, provide all their merchandise.
Meanwhile, Craving Coffee regularly pull up their cart at the tap room. Likewise, Beavertown can be found on sale in Craving Coffee and Chicken Town. Beavertown were also one of the first businesses to sign up to the Tottenham Green Market in 2014. The boys have also expressed a desire to investigate opportunities with Styx.
Nick and Logan admit to have been surprised by the rapid success of Beavertown. “I think while we’d always hoped to see people making the Saturday pilgrimage from all parts of London, as well as locals – to find out about us, and Tottenham,” says Nick, “we couldn’t have predicted how many would come and how rapidly a community would develop around the beer. However, what is especially rewarding is the diversity – girls from west London chatting with fans on their way to the football and, of course, there are local families with their kids.”
What does the future hold? For now, Logan and Nick are happy with their current trajectory. “There’s never been anything but wholehearted support and welcome from Tottenham locals,” the pair enthuse. “It’s really great and Tottenham is such a good home and community for Beavertown.”