For punters there’ll be food, live music and over 300 craft beers, ciders, gins and whiskeys, but the truly special thing about Alltech Brews is that it has the leading independent brewers, distillers and cider producers gathered under one roof.
In the lead up to Alltech Brews we got the opportunity to sit down with Hopfully Brewing Co, an Irish craft micro-brewery based in Dublin that “explores the world of brewing good beers and attach it to art”. They want to raise creative consciousness through the sociability of craft beer, we caught up with founders Cris, Alberto and Vilson to see how they’re attempting to unfold their vision.
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Here are some pics of our head-brewer Chris during his adventure in Amazon. He has gone to the Brazilian Amazon to meet the Baniwas, an indigenous tribe who supplied us with the Baniwa chillies for our pineapple, mint and chillies Saison brewed back in March 2018. A huge thanks to @socioambiental for this opportunity.
Cris, Alberto and Vilson, you guys are the founders, but you’re also a group of friends. How did being close help the process of setting up?
Cris: Knowing each other well, what drives us and especially how hard we all work to achieve our goals was a big part of what brought us together in the business.
It must make it more fun too?
Cris: It certainly does. Talking business and brewing challenges all day long, and then going to our beer events and talking business, beer challenges and politics all night long over a few pints, it’s good fun.
Are there challenges to working so closely with friends? How do you solve them when they crop up?
Cris: There are challenges like in any other business set up, though when working with friends you must learn how to put business and friendship apart. We have different viewpoints about many aspects of business, but we share the same goals. So being able to listen and respect each other’s ideas lead us to find the best solution to whatever the challenge is.
You have a background in graffiti and live-art sessions, what bearing does having a creative background have on your brewing work?
Vilson: We love art in general, from graffiti to culinary, that’s why we have decided to combine craft beer with emerging artists. Brewing is an art and we try to be the most artistic as we can be, from our branding to our recipes. Art is creativity, innovation, and this is our daily life.
The design of the Lovemaker and the Graciosa are great, how do you choose the artists you want to collaborate with?
Vilson: We have loads of good and talented friends in the field of art and design, so every beer is designed by a different artist and has its own identity. Graciosa was inspired by the lovely Barcelonia weather when Cris was brewing over there. Lovemaker was inspired by a hyperactive breed of marsupial called the antechinus. This little creature sprints around mating for three weeks in marathon sessions that often last up to 14 hours, after which the male dies from toxically high levels of testosterone and cortisol. Pure pleasure trapped in a beer can!
The artists are picked online with the help of our friends Bea Rodriguez and Nathanael Roman, both designers. The process of choosing the artist for a new beer is very exciting.
“Each one of our beers has its own visual character, to complement the uniqueness we aim to bring to every brew. The artwork chosen for each beer epitomises the aspects of storytelling we promote as a brewery.” This sounds really fascinating, can you give me a little background on this?
Vilson: We decided not to follow any pattern when developing our brand, we want something unique every time, a different experience from one beer to another. The artwork has to explain what you will find in the beer itself, and the character on the can represents the idea behind the product.
Your company vision is to promote artists and raise creative awareness through your brews. Can you expand a little more on this?
Vilson: We want to promote creativity, we get inspired by talented people. We work in collaboration with fresh talents as it helps us to develop our skills and to bring something special to our brews every time. We want the art to be seen, art is everywhere.
You’re also involved in community development projects. Can you tell me more about this?
Vilson: Yes, we have our Artfully Project, where we run art markets in different locations around the city. Artfully brings together illustrators, musicians and photographers who sell and promote their work. We aim for this to be an opportunity for people to interact with Dublin’s creative community.
We also have a collaboration project with the Baniwa community in Amazon, so we brew a series of beers called Baniwa Chilli Series, always using the chillies grown by the community in our recipes. A percentage of the profits go towards the Baniwa community to help with their housing project.
What does having this layer to your business add to Hopfully?
Vilson: It does add more inspiration, motivation, and also these projects bring interesting people to our side, which allows us to improve and develop new stuff all the time.
Does the creative awareness and community developments crossover often?
Vilson: Yes. I would say that they are linked. The creativity will help to develop the community status, and it can open people’s mind to different perceptions.
Cris, you have kitchen experience. Is this what made you experiment with infusing beers with unorthodox ingredients?
Cris: I’m cooking, I’m thinking beer. I’m brewing, I’m thinking food. And the best part is always the final act… But it’s more than just pairing the two, it’s using the kitchen and brewing techniques, ideas and ingredients to come up with new recipes, like our Beetjuice Saison or Baniwa Chilli.
Right now, I am using a lot of complementary and balancing flavours for my new recipes, and you can taste some of those if you’re coming to the Alltech Craft Brews and Food Fair this year.
What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to someone who is thinking of setting up an independent, craft brewery?
Cris: Well, our first year or so was a crash course on ‘how not to do business’. Hopfully is a dreamer’s business. So, if you’re coming from the same background as we came from, gather as much business and market knowledge as you can. It’s important to have a good set of tools, so you can tackle some problems as they arise.
Hopfully are just one of the many independent breweries, cideries and distilleries who’ll be at Alltech Craft Brews & Food Fair, March 14-16 in the Convention Centre Dublin. Visit alltechbrews.ie for more.