Tooth & Claw
Bursting from lockdown with a fresh brand and groundbreaking beers
Saturday 13 February 2021
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I first tried Tooth & Claw’s beer in a Head of Steam pub in Leeds, part of the pub estate owned by its parent brewery, Camerons. To be honest I wasn’t expecting anything particularly special, but was immediately impressed by the quality and modernity of these super-fresh brews. Tooth & Claw grew organically out of Camerons, as its team of young brewers flexed their muscles on a small pilot kit at the weekends, brewing the styles that interested them. Casual sharing turned to serious interest, and in time a separate, craft-focused brand to bring their experiments to a wider audience.
While he acknowledges 2020 was tough, the brewery’s Yousef Doubooni is distinctly upbeat about where Tooth & Claw stands today.
“For a start, Lockdown enabled us to brew a lot of different beers, in a funny way,” he says. “It’s easy to get quite engrained when everyone’s so busy, so we’ve been afforded a bit more time to think differently and shake up the brewing side. People have been coming in and experimenting again on the 70 litre pilot brew kit where Tooth & Claw started from.”
To date, the brewery has probably been most closely associated with its fruit beers, most notably its excellent lemon gose. But it was its IPAs that first snagged my interest, and I’m personally delighted that we’ve managed to get One Eye into this month’s box, which showcases two of my favourite hops: Nelson Sauvin and Vic Secret.
“We first brought this beer out right at the start of 2020 on tap and had a really great response, so that gave us the assurance it would do well in can too. I’m glad we did, because then lockdown hit. Both these hops have a really unique flavour; Nelson Sauvin, with those grapey, gooseberry notes is just unmistakable. Then 7% abv really hits the mark, though it drinks a lot easier than most 7% beers,” continues Yousef.
In terms of where things are heading in 2021, Yousef acknowledges the growth of low and session-strength beers, but also sees a counter-trend for big-hitting, luxurious ‘treats’.
“I am personally a big fan of the amazing varieties of Impy stouts and if you go on Untapped and look at the highest scoring beers, they tend to be these massive 12% beasts with loads of interesting adjuncts,” Yousef says. “They’re great fun to drink and something to look forward to, so I think an element of what we’re seeing is people are looking to treat themselves a little bit more. They can’t go to a nice restaurant for a meal, they can’t go on holiday, so they’re buying cocktail kits or really luxurious beers to drink at home or together with friends on Zoom calls and do not mind paying a little more for these”.
The other big news for the brewery itself is a wholesale redesign of the branding, which has been going on behind the scenes since before lockdown, but again came to fruition once everyone had a bit more time on their hands. I venture that this is a very good thing, as the old branding was a little… safe.
“We’d originally gone down the road of keeping it really simple and minimal visually, and just using beer styles for the names. But you start going to the festivals and seeing breweries not just from the UK but around the world, and some of the great things they’re doing with their branding, and it influences you. You start thinking, when you put your beers on the shelf next to all these other people, how do you get that first pop of interest that makes someone pick up your beer to find out more?”
To raise its game a little, Tooth & Claw reached out to street artist Kev Munday, whose colourful, utopian worlds of people going about their business embodied the sense of community and fun that the brewery was trying to convey. The feeling was apparently mutual, and Kev tackled the branding challenge with gusto working alongside design agency Muze Creative to produce the new can and lens artwork. The beer in this month’s Beer52 box is the first to be canned under the new branding, which is being rolled out across Tooth & Claw’s entire range.
“In a nutshell, we’re really excited about this year,” says Yousef. “We’re all feeling quite creatively fresh, and we’re going to the market with what we feel is a brand that really reflects the beer a lot better, and with some great new recipes in the bank. There’s no doubt coronavirus has reshaped the industry, but we’re determined to take any positives we can find from that.”
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