Photographers Andreas Pettersson and Steve Ryan first met while working for Totally Dublin, when Steve was the staff photographer and Andreas came to Ireland for a three-month stint that ended up lasting six years. The pair became great friends and by 2011 they were sharing a flat in London with Andreas’s brother Fredrik. They started meeting up on Wednesdays to make pasta, brew beer and watch Seinfeld. Fast forward four years and the dynamic duo had set up the 40FT Brewery with Andreas’s brother Fredrik and Ben Ott, a Master Brewer from Cologne. We caught up with Steve recently to hear more about their brews and plans to share a taste of their success with friends and family back home.
How did you go from making homebrew to setting up your own Brewery?
Andreas and I share an office workspace in Hackney. There was a disused car park at the back and when our landlord asked if anyone had an idea for the space somebody suggested that we should consider putting a brewery there. At first we were like Nah! but the seed was planted. We’d made friends with Ben Ott, head master brewer with London Fields, and we asked him what he thought about setting up a brewery in shipping containers in a car park. Over a few beers we figured out how we could do it and then Ben said he’d like to join us as part of the team. At that stage he was working with Truman’s, the fourth biggest brewery in London, so to have a German Master Brewer prepared to go from there to one of the smallest breweries in London gave us huge confidence. We pulled the trigger in January 2015, Ben quit his job, we designed the brewery, got it built in Scotland and opened in May 2015.
So the Brewery is based in a shipping container?
Essentially we’ve got forty foot of space, two twenty-foot shipping containers stacked on top of each other. The top twenty-foot is our brew house, with the maturation tanks below. We’re producing 3,000 litres a week, which sounds like a lot, but there are only so many places we can sell to in London, so we have a sort of checklist now. We want it to be as local as possible, ideally the kind of place we’d like to hang out and we’d love to have most of our beer drunk within a couple of miles of the brewery.
My job as a food photographer means we’ve got a good idea of the market, and we’ve built up great relationships with people who stock our beer. Our first contract was with Dalston Roof Park, a really cool bar venue that opens in the summer and local pubs such as The Scolt Head have given us a permanent tap. We also do events, so you can come and drink at our taproom on Friday and Saturday nights, get a tour and try our beers.
It sounds like you have great, local support around the brewery.
The nice thing about the microbrewery world is that it’s all about using good ingredients, making a flavoursome beer with a nice ethos behind it that people can enjoy. We’re learning by brewing, involving people that we trust and incorporating them into the 40FT family. Our delivery guys, a company called Dam Tasty Beer, only deliver beers they like that are brewed in London. We’ve just hired an apprentice brewer to help Ben and we’re looking at hiring a sixth person now on the logistics and admin side.
Tell us about the beers you currently have in your arsenal.
We’ve got four beers now including a Pale Ale, a wheat beer called Street Weiss, and Deep, a really good, full on dry Irish Stout with a dark, rich colour and a full, syrupy mouth feel. Our Larger beer is a Kölsch style beer, a crisp lager with a little zesty hoppiness, a gateway beer for lager drinkers interested in something with a bit more flavour. We thought naming it ‘Larger’ was a fine idea, but now a lot of people think we can’t spell! We enjoy doing fun, seasonal specials too, so we’re experimenting with Deepest, a stout that comes in at 10.5% abv. It’s currently aging in a whiskey barrel and we plan to pop it open at our second birthday next year.
Any plans to bring 40FT brews to Dublin?
With two Swedes, a German and an Irishman there’s always that thing where you want to bring what you’ve done home. Our beer’s available in Stockholm now, we were there in September and we met all of Andreas and Fredrik’s family for a great celebration. Our friends and family in Dublin have also been super-supportive, so it would be great to have it available in one or two pubs back home. The first time our beer was drunk in Ireland in a pub was two weeks ago as part of international stout day. The Open Gate Brewery invited a few Irish breweries to showcase their stout and Andreas and Ben took a keg across on the ferry. To say that the first time our stout was drunk in Ireland was in James’s Gate, I was like; well I can retire now! That was one of the best days ever.
Andreas, the lads and I are planning to get the ferry into the Forty Foot in February, have a swim and invite friends and family to come and try the beer at a house party type event. For us it’s all about friends and family, a sort of homecoming really.
Words: Martina Murray
Images: Steve Ryan