Meet the brewery producing music-inspired craft beers
Saturday 20 November 2021
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Signature Brew, which was set up in 2011 by Tom Bott and Sam McGregor, has a very clear mission: to revolutionise the quality of beer at gigs and events, by brewing an exciting range of music-inspired craft beers. Over the last decade, Signature has brewed around 30 beers in collaboration with artists such as Alt-J, Mastodon, Enter Shikari, Idles, and The Darkness, and its dedication to bringing the magic of live music to its beers has never wavered. This has led to Signature being the only brewery to win SIBA’s acclaimed Brewery Business of the Year twice (in 2018 and 2021).
When speaking to founder and head brewer Tom Bott about Covid lockdown, the vibe is positive, despite the adversity faced by the brewing industry, and the brewery has found itself in a comfortable place as 2021 draws to a close.
“We’re actually in a very positive position as a brewery,” he says. “We were very fortunate that in the first week of lockdown 2020 our team came up with a great idea, the Pub in a Box, to keep us busy during Covid, which was a fun alternative since we couldn’t go to the pub any more. Prior to lockdown, about 80% of our beer went into kegs, mostly around our local area and at gig venues, so the impact on our work was pretty massive. Pub in a Box kept us busy and kept our team in jobs, and about a year in, we realised we had actually improved as a company, and were in a great place. We didn’t have to use the furlough scheme too heavily, and we had time to improve where we could.”
The award-winning Pub in a Box contained a selection of beers, glassware, snacks, a music quiz, and exclusive playlists curated by music journalists and tailored to each beer. Signature employed out-of-work musicians to deliver it locally by bike too, which helped them gain some income after all live events had been cancelled.
Speaking of consumers’ role in the success of the brewery, Tom says: “I think the average consumer had started becoming more conscious of what they’re purchasing. Covid accelerated that; in reality a lot of people were sitting at home with no opportunity to go out, so they had the time to consider what they cared about. This could be buying nice wine online, or groceries from their local greengrocer, or supporting their local brewery. I think the general craft beer drinker is far more educated nowadays about their local beer scene, which has helped breweries keep afloat.”
This localised support means that things are looking exciting for Signature in the coming months. Across its three venues (a taproom on-site at the brewery in Walthamstow, a second bar and venue in Haggerston which is more of a music and events venue, and a bar-restaurant collaboration with We Serve Humans in Walthamstow) Signature is planning a series of gigs and events which will see them get ‘back to normality’. If that wasn’t enough, another venue will be opening soon, so keep your eyes open.
“We’re so excited, with the bands we love going back on tour, festivals being booked, and we are starting to plan more things,” says Tom. “Most importantly for us though, we are working on getting our flagship lager Studio into the hands of gig-goers - there’s so much potential with this beer, as it bridges the gap between the craft beer aficionado and the mainstream beer drinker.
“We have a heavy focus on music, and our passion is to bring great, fresh beer to amazing shows - from bigger venues, to independent backroom gigs at pubs, that’s our bread and butter, but we do supply ‘regular’ pubs primarily around London. We’ve also had great success in taking over taps from big macro breweries around our local area, which is a great sign - all we want is to get our beer into the hands of more people, and that’s going to be our focus for the next 12 months.”
Photos: Derek Bremner
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