Brewing positivity

Siobhan Buchanan chats with Greg Bateman, the founder of People’s Captain brewery


People’s Captain is a brewery with a difference. Of course, as with all breweries, there’s the focus on making great beers with great ingredients, but the driving emphasis and message behind People’s Captain is to do good, and to shine a light on mental health issues. One in every six people in the UK experience a mental health problem every week, and statistics show that one in every four people in England have experienced mental illness at some point in their lives. 

To Greg Bateman, People’s Captain’s founder and professional rugby player for Newport Gwent Dragons, mental health is a personal matter. Back in 2019, Greg went public on social media about his own struggles. “The reason for that is that I wanted to create a feeling of safety, to let people know that you can talk about how you feel. It was a big step for me and I didn’t realise at the time quite how important that openness was,” he recalls.

His frank discussion was covered in the press, which led to a lot of support from people who opened up to him and praised him for talking about it all, saying it had in turn helped them to talk to their loved ones about their own struggles. It made Greg think: “what if we could make the moments that we share a beer with our friends really count? Having a beer with a friend is such a part of British culture - and for me, during my hardest times, I needed to be with my mates, and tell them ‘listen, this is how I feel, and I don’t know what to do about it.’ I didn’t expect them to fix anything because they’re not experts, but it’s such a natural space for me.” 

In 2018, Greg’s love of good beer led to him working with some local craft breweries to create his own beers, and a year later People’s Captain was born. It combines both his hobby for brewing and his personal struggles - it’s about more than just making good beer, it’s inviting conversation, connection and positivity. 

The core range at the moment is a simple set of five tasty and accessible beers: Legend, a session APA; Islander, a NEPA; Short and Stout, a milk stout; Stereotype, an English-style lager; and Tis the Saison, a (you guessed it) saison. All easy-drinking, classic beers, that you can quaff merrily while talking to your pals, but that also bring something else to the table. If you’re a London resident, you might recognise the brewery’s amazing character artwork - it’s designed by prolific Hackney street artist Nathan Bowen, who Greg contacted after spotting a huge tag of his on a mural when visiting Hackney. And the can design is specifically geared towards sparking discussion, since the beer style, tasting notes and ABV are front and centre; this provides an instant talking point for the drinker, alongside the cool artwork on the packaging. 

While the importance of talking about your struggles with your friend over a beer or two is something that People’s Captain is promoting, there’s more to the brewery’s mission than just conversations. Greg and his team have been busy of late, setting up a foundation for positive mental health. The aim of the foundation is to raise £1 million for initiatives to tackle mental health issues, as Greg says: “such a great job has been done around awareness, but it’s time to take real action, instead of just talking about things. My concern is that we are all pretty aware of mental health issues nowadays, but what are we going to do about it?” 

The foundation will raise money through beer sales, but also through events and any fundraising activities that People’s Captain’s drinkers and fans want to embark upon. Greg explains: “we have such a lovely community of people around us that we want to be involved, and it’s just as much their mission as it is ours.” 

People’s Captain is truly the embodiment of the power that the brewing industry, and the people who drink that beer, have to do good. You can find all kinds of information about People’s Captain’s mission on its website, and there’s even a link to a Discord channel you can join to chat to likeminded folks. Together we can brew positivity, one pint at a time. 

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