Just outside Wokingham, lies one of the UK’s premier breweries, Siren Craft Brew. If there was a “Champion’s League of Breweries”, Siren would be firmly in the top seeds every year, and this year, have made our Battle of the Breweries final, taking on Pilot for the 2020 trophy. We thought during lockdown, we’d catch up with the guys at Siren to see what’s going on and learn a bit about the brewery. This week, I’ve spoken to Tim, the guy responsible for all of Siren’s class Social Media and Content, to get the lowdown on one of the UK’s best.
So you guys say that you “brew beers with a story to tell” and 2019 was a hugely successful year for you as a brewery. Just how did you go about your manic brewing schedule to get so many incredible beers out on the market?
Hard work! The brew team are an incredible unit and work so hard to plan, brew and package so many amazing beers, whilst keeping up with the schedule of flagship brews etc. Not only that, but the behind the scenes jobs like making sure labels are designed, ordered and arrive on time, beers are marketed and made available to the public. Everyone works hard is the long and short of it.
As well as telling stories, you say you brew beer you all would like to drink and make, with that, what are your favourite three beers you’ve ever brewed?
This will change person to person, but speaking personally I’d have to say Limoncello (a 9.1% Lemon Sour DIPA), Dark & Perilous Nights (a 12.4% Barrel Aged dark ale) and the entire “Suspended in” range of 4% Hazy Pale Ales… always so drinkable. What’s the story behind the name “Siren”?Darron (Anley, founder) didn’t set out to open a brewery, but as a passionate home brewer the metaphorical brewing Sirens just kept calling him in and so it was a fitting name once he established a commercial operation.
What stands out, as well as your beer, is your brand and artwork following last year’s rebrand, what’s the story behind this rebrand and why choose to do it last year?
We crowdfunded for a canning line, so it made sense to have a brand refresh along with the new cans etc. We pitched to a lot of amazing artists but established a relationship with Parr Studios. Will (Parr) did an incredible job to keep the spirit of our branding, whilst giving everything new life. Darron and Andy (Nowlan, Marketing Manager) worked really hard to make sure each beer wasn’t just an arbitrary design, but a story. Everything in those canvas designs is there for a reason.
Sean has been with you now for over six months, what has his influence on the brewery been so far?
He came into the brew team so smoothly. It was right at the time that we were setting up the canning line, so he helped make sure all that was operational etc. I think he spent a while observing and helping the team be the best that they can be. But he’s an incredible brewer with masses of knowledge. He’s created some great recipes so far, as well as making little tweaks here and there to help continual improvement.
You pride yourselves on your four core beers, Soundwave, Yu Lu, Calypso, and Broken Dream, how did they come to be your four flagship brews and are there plans to expand the range?
So it was 6 flagships (Soundwave, Yu Lu, Calypso, Broken Dream, Undercurrent and Liquid Mistress) but at the time of rebranding we made the decision to retire Undercurrent from the flagship range (although it’s still produced and just (May 2020) went into a run of 440ml cans) and retire Liquid Mistress altogether. We’ve grown as a brewery, but the nature of craft beer has changed and what people are drinking has changed. The four we have now, I believe, are a great example of a range of beers that you can go to time and time again. During the pandemic Soundwave has been a classic goto for so many people. We get caught up in the latest and newest beers, but forget the timeless flagship beers.
As for plans to expand – we always have something up our sleeve.
Down the years, Project Barista saw some of my favourite beers of all time produced, what plans do you have in 2020 in terms of flavours and creative ideas?
Each year we push to use different techniques and styles and 2020 was to be no different. We had an amazing lineup for Project Barista in the plan but it wasn’t to be. We toyed with an online event, but decided to hold off. Instead, we’re looking at a rebrew of a previous favourite as a one-off.
How much has the current situation put your brewing schedule on hold?
Initially, quite a bit. What goes out in kegs is about 85% of what we do, so when that stopped we had to rethink. Since then, we were canning around the clock to get beers out of tanks and brewing went down to about 1 a week. Now though, we’re back up to a pretty much full schedule, with new releases every week.
What are you having to do differently, if anything to survive through everything that’s going on?
A number of the team are still furloughed, so everyone is having to work super hard. Cans and the webshop has become the main focus, so we had to rethink our warehouse to make sure it was efficient, but safe. Staff that can work from home (like myself in Marketing) do so as much as possible, and that presents whole new challenges for efficient communicating etc. We’ve adopted new practices and worked hard to keep on top of everything.
How can people continue to support you during this time
People have been amazing. The scene is amazing. The support that we have is incredible with people buying beers online. Some people have been buying Tap Yard credit or Brewery Tour vouchers that they can use later etc. Everyone’s been so patient with deliveries. I know I can speak for everyone, no just myself, when I say that we’re all unbelievably grateful for the support shown.
Not just for us, but for every brewery, pub, bar, restaurant or whatever it might be that people are buying from and talking about online. Thank you, you’re keeping a lot of people in jobs, and a lot of industries alive.
When we get through it all, which we will, what are your main plans for events and brews in the second half of 2020?
It’s honestly a week by week plan at the moment. We’ve just reopened the Tap Yard for local collections and growler fills, so that’s exciting and everyone’s respecting the measures we’ve put in place. Brew wise, we’ve got some amazing beers planned, event wise… who knows. I’m sure there’ll be something special as soon as we can!