Fallen Brewing Co.
Great beers from the heart of Scotland
Saturday 13 February 2021
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Fallen Brewing, which brewed its first beer almost seven years ago from its picturesque premises in the Kippen railway station in Stirlingshire, has become one of the most well-loved breweries in Scotland thanks to its reliably fantastic beers.
Talking to Paul Fallen, the brewery’s director, is an absolute treat; his passion for good beer really shines through, and there’s so much optimism despite the absolute mess that was 2020. The Coronavirus pandemic hit independent businesses hard, Fallen included, but Paul says they all had to learn how to move past it, and try and focus on the positives. Paul commented: “There’s obviously still a huge amount of uncertainty around what’s going to happen. It’s been tough but you’ve just got to do what you can to get through it.”
One of the biggest decisions Fallen took, midway through 2020, was taking its beer out of supermarkets, primarily as an act of solidarity for the independent bottle shops. This has also meant the brewers are now able to focus solely on brewing the beer they want to brew, without being beholden to a supermarket’s contract (which understandably wasn’t working for them since they’re a relatively small-scale brewery). It gives it flexibility and creativity to brew a wide variety of great beer, and focus on what its customers want.
Customer demand is a funny thing. The changes to people’s drinking behaviours brought about by the pandemic have actually had somewhat of a positive influence on Fallen - Paul said: “A big positive for us from the past year has been the connection we have formed with our customers. Historically, we did most of our trade through shops, bars and pubs - online sales through our website were a tiny part of our revenue. But recently, we’ve been dealing directly with the people drinking our beer, which has been a great learning experience.”
I ask Paul what that new-found connection with Fallen’s consumers has meant for his perception of what people are drinking, and if it’s changed the brewery’s best-sellers. He remarked that it has: “The top sellers for us have always been the lower ABV, sessionable beers like Odyssey and Local Motive that do really well in pubs, but since the first lockdown, we’ve seen a demand for higher ABV beers and New England styles. The hazy's are unavoidable these days.”
He adds: ”With the beer market the way it is right now, especially wholesale, it’s saturated with breweries. Looking forward, I think that we are going to start to see more breweries like ourselves spending more time trying to connect directly with the customer - whether that’s through online sales, social media, or bars & taprooms. Become a bit more self-reliant and rely less on visibility through the rotational tap market, for example.”
We talk about trends for 2021, and he remarks, with a big sigh: “I think the more specialised beers like pastry stouts are going to carry on having huge success”. Neither of us are fans of pastry/dessert stouts it seems, and we have a good laugh about that. Paul continues: “I also think we are going to continue to see a rise in people making mixed-fermentation, foeder-aged, interesting and funky kind of beers.”
I ask if Fallen will attempt these kind of beers in the future, and Paul gives an honest answer: “It’s not something that's really been on our radar and I think other breweries are far more capable and into it than we are. Another trend we will probably see continuing is breweries focusing in on certain styles and specialising in a narrower style-range. With this in mind, I think it's important for us to stick to what we're good at and what we enjoy doing which is to try to update and modernise classic styles like pales, IPAs, porters and stouts.”
We continue talking about trends, and what he has seen over the last couple of years in the craft beer market: “We’ve accepted and embraced the huge shift towards New England styles. I don’t see that trend going away - once you get a taste for the ripe hoppyness of the style, it’s difficult to dial it back. It's the same as the early days of craft when drinkers got their first taste of something like Sierra Nevada and it changed perceptions of what a beer could be. West Coast styles are my first love and favourites though so I'm hoping we'll see a resurgence of the westies as well - juicy, piney and dank, as well as well-balanced and bitter! I also think that we’re at the stage now that trends are formed by people’s palates changing, for example, the beers that did well when we first started up, while they still hold up, they’re not what the modern consumer wants to drink - so our core range has evolved over time. It's not so much about keeping up with trends, more about making beer that people love and really want to drink.”
With this in mind, the beer that Fallen has brewed specifically for this Beer52 box, a DDH pale called Lever, is inspired by one of its most popular beers, Switch - a hazy pale. Lever is more balanced and is slightly more bitter than your average NE-pale, but the juiciness of the hops still comes through prominently, and it’s drinkable and has a thick mouthfeel without being cloying. Paul says he’s looking forward to hearing what everyone thinks of the beer, since Fallen has always had a great relationship with Beer52 - and he admits he thinks it’s the best subscription box out there. We can’t wait to see what you all think too, so make sure to let us know on our website.
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