This time a year ago I would never have imagined we’d have draught beer at Double Barrelled, or have produced a collab with Elusive
Last weekend marked the one year anniversary of our first beers – Juggler and Jester – going on sale at the Grumpy Goat, and on our online shop. Since that nerve-racking, but exciting, initial weekend we’ve received a huge amount of good-will and support – which we’re incredibly grateful for. This blog is an opportunity for us to say thank you, as well as to offer a few reflections on our progress to date.
I’ve always found it much easier to be reflective when you step outside of your day to day routine, and it just so happens that Laura and I have recently returned from a short break at Little Earth Project brewery, in Suffolk. We spent three nights staying in one of their log cabins, located in the grounds of the brewery, and set behind the incredibly charming White Horse pub. The pub is essentially a Little Earth Project brewery tap, a very quaint and picturesque one - with Little Earth Project beers available on draught and in bottle, additional guest draught beer, and a world-class guest bottle list.
Although it’s been nice to think about what we’ve achieved over the last year, doing that whilst staying at a brewery making exceptionally good mixed-fermentation sours, aged in barrels and blended – is incredibly grounding. We still have a way to go if the ultimate destination is the production of beers of this level of complexity. If you haven’t tried Little Earth Project beers before, I thoroughly recommend them – go check them out!
Back to 2020, and a couple of weeks before our first online sale and we’d successfully bottled and labelled our first beer – Jester; we were so pleased with how they looked. Leading up to the sale my state of being was generally typified by varying degrees of self-doubt and panic, but this reached a new high when we found water marks all over the newly labelled bottles. All our beers are cold stored in fridges, and these water stains had formed due to condensation – which definitely should not have happened. Once I’d calmed down, not only did we have to find a new printing company to work with in order to get the labels reprinted (in a very short amount of time), but we also had to soak each bottle in water in order to painstakingly scrub the old labels from the bottles before we could put the new labels on. This was a job I never, EVER, want to repeat - and an early lesson that running a successful brewery is a lot more than making beer (that’s the easy bit). The night before our first online sale we genuinely didn’t know whether we’d have any customers. We were so shocked to sell out within an hour, and even more pleased that our first beers received such positive feedback. Although I still spend the night before our beer releases worrying about how our beers will be received, I feel much more assured now, a year on, that we have lots of amazing loyal customers and a brilliant network of local beer lovers and independent businesses ready to support us. We’re hugely thankful to everyone who has purchased one of our beers, taken the time to post some encouraging words on social media, or given us feedback. It’s been a real privilege to get to know lots of you over the past year – at the farmers market, on the doorstep when we’re delivering beer, or just generally when we’re out and about. It’s very much the start of the journey for Dolphin Brewery – and we really hope to bring you all with us as we continue to evolve.
As most of you will know, the garage where we brew is located at my parent’s house, and by default really, because they live there, they provide an immeasurable amount of help with the day to day running of the brewery. As much as I like to pretend we do everything – we don’t. They are regularly taking gravity readings, measuring pH, pitching yeast, cleaning and sanitising brewing equipment, preparing fruit etc. All for the privilege of not having a garage anymore, and being forced to spend more time with their stressed out son being anxious about the latest beer in production. So I owe them a huge thank you too.
Before this turns into an Oscar speech that would have been better wrapped-up a few paragraphs ago, final thank you must go to the stockists of our beers, and to those who have made enquiries we haven’t yet been able to fulfil. For a very small brewery still located in a garage, we’ve had a huge amount of support and interest from bottle shops and businesses who are selling, or would like to sell, our beer. So for now… big thanks to The Grumpy Goat, A Hoppy Place, The Hive, Fidget & Bob, and the Tasting Barn. As well as to Double Barrelled for all their continued support and for pouring our first ever kegged beer in their taproom. We are excited to add more names to this list as we grow and expand.
So, as we sit in the Sussex sunshine evaluating where we are now, compared to where we were a year ago - I’m equally humbled, grateful, and proud of the progress we’ve made to date. Operating on a small scale isn’t profit-making, and taking sixteen hours to manually bottle 350 beers isn’t fun (definitely my worst job… by a long way) – but it is more than worth it when the time you’ve invested into producing a beer is rewarded by people enjoying it. This time a year ago I would never have imagined we’d have draught beer at Double Barrelled, or have produced a collab with Elusive - with news of a new collab coming soon! We’re certainly ready to see what year two brings… I hope you are too.