Gipsy Hill

• • • Best Collaboration Project • • •


With its unmistakable label designs – each of which puts a fun character front and centre to represent the beer – it came as little surprise that Gipsy Hill also put people at the heart of one of the year’s most impressive and successful collaborations. Alongside 11 other breweries, Gipsy Hill in April launched the ‘Buy The NHS a Pint’ campaign, in which revenue from online beer sales was diverted into brewery taprooms and used to buy drinks for NHS workers, in thanks for their hard work tackling the pandemic.

Within a few weeks, the campaign had raised enough to buy more than 1000 pints through Gipsy Hill’s taproom, and spurred the creation of seven outstanding ‘Buy The NHS a pint’ beers, from a pilsner to a double IPA.

“It all started as a relatively small gesture to support local NHS workers during a tough time, but even we were surprised by how much our customers got behind the idea,” says the brewery’s Sam McMeekin. “People were looking for a meaningful way to show their support, I think, and this also allowed them to support a local business, so it really took off. We can’t thank our customers enough.”

This year has also seen the fruition of a long-standing ambition for Sam and his co-founder Charlie Shaw, as Gipsy Hill became employee-owned.

“It’s something Charlie and I have wanted since we founded the business, and in February we were finally able to make the leap. Every single person who works at the brewery owns a stake in the business via an options scheme. That means that the whole team is truly connected to the heart and soul that they each put into the business every single day. This employee stake will grow every year until we eventually list as a company, at which point they'll own a stake in the listed entity and can hang onto them or trade them in. It's a huge step for a small business like ours to take, as it really puts ownership, and the fair and equitable treatment of employees, front and centre.”

Gipsy Hill is celebrating its award win with Prevail, an English pale ale that’s a homage to modern craft beer, but with its roots firmly in UK brewing. First, the Vermont yeast they’ve used may now be synonymous with hazy NEIPA brewing, but it originally came from England. “It's fantastic at making English ales as a result,” says Sam, “and if you brew with it in a traditional British way, you will get traditional British results.

“The hops are also really exciting. We're working with our favourite new UK hop farm, Brookhouse Hops from Herefordshire. They've been selling English hop varietals since 2018 and have some of the best UK hops we've ever rubbed. This beer is full of Bramling Cross, Goldings, Fuggles, and Phoenix. There's a lick of bitterness, a bit of malt body, then it's all British marmaladey yeast esters and hop bite. A really fantastic combination of different things.”

The specially commissioned can art features Beer52 superfan Tayo, surrounded by some of his favourite things.

“Tayo, I’m told, is the most prolific referrer in Beer52 history. We took a list of his favourite hobbies - lacrosse, hiking, travelling...we mashed this together into the form of an old painting by Caspar David Friedrich, called ‘Wanderer above the Sea of Fog’. It's a beautiful painting, and instead of his walking cane, the Wanderer has a lacrosse stick. Instead of a rocky outcrop to rest his foot, he's got a box of Beer52 beer. It's a lovely label to hopefully match some of the wandering and travelling vibes that Tayo and we all feel.”

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