YEASTIE BOYS RESIDENCY TAP
This month we’re showcasing Yeastie Boys on our residency tap! They’re one of our fave NZ brewers and make some wonderful IPA...they’re also not afraid of the weird and wonderful brews!
We spoke to YB founder Stu McKinlay about keeping it Yeastie...
Can you give our customers a bit of background to Yeastie Boys? Do you still operate out of the UK and New Zealand?
We like to think of ourselves as the world's smallest multinational. We started in New Zealand, ten years ago, at a time when I think there was probably around six breweries in London and certainly none of the ones who everyone knows and loves today. My co-founder Sam Possenniskie and I were part time for 6 years and I only went full time to make the move to the UK four years ago. We started brewing here in the second half of 2015 and have been growing ever since.
Yeastie Boys operate as a contract brewery in the UK. What are the pros and cons of this business model?
The hardest thing of all is getting things done your way at the breweries we work with. There are always little things that you can't do in certain breweries, perhaps because they don't have certain equipment or what they have is set up differently, but we can generally work around these areas.
It's keeping on top of folk so that they don't fall back into their own processes that is the hardest problem to solve. In really great scenarios, we learn from each other...so breweries we work with take on something we've told them we do or we learn from something that they do. Our general rule of thumb, to keep things smooth and successful, is to not change anything they would normally do unless it will definitely impact the beer in a negative way.
We now employ JK (James Kemp, formerly of Fullers, Thornbridge, Buxton and Marble) to oversee innovation and quality across all the breweries. I'd love to say he spends more time on innovation but with four breweries all up (two in UK) he's kept very busy just keeping on top of quality.
The big pro of this model, of course, is the fact that we've not spent millions of pounds on a brewery in one place, let alone breweries in three markets! It helps us adapt to the situation we find ourselves in. I truly believe that export is a dying market for craft beer and our model reflects that. We brew in our three biggest markets and there are a couple that we think could be big that we won't even take on until we are sure that we'd end up brewing there.
You've just released xeRRex, a peat-smoked Golden Ale. It's caused quite a stir, what's the beer about?
xeRRex is single malt heavily-peated golden ale that is the 10% alc/vol big sibling of Rex Attitude, our infamous 7% peated ale. We first released these in 2011 and now release them every year for peat freaks all around the world. They're what you would imagine Bowmore, Ardbeg or Laphroaig to be if they were beers. We get hate mail and, thankfully love letters, all the time about these beers but they are undoubtedly my favourites.
What are your plans for the rest of the year?
We had a really tough year in 2018, where we couldn't produce even half of the beer that we had demand for during summer. This year, thankfully, we now have the capacity to brew more but we've got to win back the trust of those customers who had to go elsewhere last year. We'll continue to work really hard on the quality of our five core range beers while keeping up the special releases and collaborations that we do in small batches (we do around one of each per month on average).
We've got ideas for a barrel-aged solera project and for a core range lager, two passions of both myslef and JK, but these things need a place to host our barrel project and a brewery we can be absolutely confident in brewing lager with. Two more cons of contract brewing... if anyone has a spare £3m, I'm sure we can remove those problems!
The Yeastie Boys residency tap launches on 1st June in six°north bars.