Entrepreneur and craft beer maker Ian Stewart on the attraction of Goodluck Hope’s new taproom and microbrewery and why people like to have beers named after their area.
How did it all begin for Ian?
York-born Ian left home at 19 to swim for Great Britain, spending the next 16 years in America, graduating from the University of Georgia before joining a global data capture company as a marketing consultant in New York.
On return to London 10 years ago, Ian, now 46, became an enthusiastic home brewer, “constantly getting bigger kit, pots and vessels”, producing more beer than he could drink. “I’d give it away to friends for Christmas.”
Meantime, he set up a stall selling Mexican street food but found he was selling ten times more beer that food. So he put together a business plan, armed with his marketing experience, to launch a microbrewery under the railway arches at Peckham Rye - now the famous Brick Brewery.
That was three and half years ago. The company has since secured a new site in Deptford increasing the number of pints brewed tenfold.
What is his vision for Goodluck Hope?
“The new taproom will be ideally located as you enter the development on the corner of a triangular park – you have to pass it everyday”, says Ian. “It’s going to be a ‘experiential’ brewery – people will be able to see and understand how beer is being made. We want to demystify the process of brewing – it’s not alchemy.”
Ian is drawing on inspiration for Goodluck Hope from Stone Brewery of San Diego’s newly opened taproom in Berlin where customers can “see the beautiful polished stainless steel vessels through glass screens.”
“We want people to come and kick the tyres, sit there all afternoon nursing a half pint if they like with no pressure, or just come in and relax.”
Ian has discovered that sales can triple with a name change. So a new brand – ‘Canary Wharf’, a pale ale with a straw yellow colour – is in the offing for Goodluck Hope. “Like Peckham Pils, people like to have beers named after their area so they can give them to family and friends.”
Why are so many pubs in decline while microbrewers are on the ascendant?
“Pubs are closing because they are not moving with the times, only catering for an older clientele,” he says. “Today the demographic has completely changed, more 50-50 male and female - and beer has become very trendy.”
What else is going to be special about Good Luck Hope?
As well as aiming for “a beer experience”, Ian will also have a unique offer – a new brewery school that will also advise on how to set up your own business – “but far away from where we are!” Ian hastily adds.
With Peckham producing 35,000 ‘pints per tank’, Ian is planning to increase that to 100,000 at Goodluck Hope brewery.
He’s also planning to launch a Goodluck Hope ‘app’ so that residents in the 3,000 new apartments can order in craft beers to their homes.
“I even thought about installing an extra beer tap in the flats but I can see there might be logistical problems with that idea!”
What’s Ian’s advice to wannabe microbrewers?
“It’s not glamorous, it’s hard work, and definitely not a get-rich-quick scheme. You’ve got to take the knocks and you need a lot of capital, at least £250,000 to get started so it’s not for the faint hearted”, says Ian, who started small, raised the capital himself and now employs five fulltime staff.