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This summer is definitely the season of the sun-soaked beer festival with many taking place across the city centre and further affield. This month saw the return of the Nottingham Craft Beer festival with many local and international breweries taking part.
One local brewery fast gaining a reputation for its experimental and tasty beers is the craft beer company, Bang the Elephant. The brewery, located in Langley Mill, is run by friends and business partners Nigel Batton and Michael Shipman.
The duo started brewing on a small scale after learning they shared a mutual love of craft beer. The name of the brewery has a historical significance which is why it was chosen for the business. It is based on Victorian slang, Bang Up to the Elephant, which traditionally meant a job well done. The term originated in London in 1882.
“We met through a mutual love of craft beer and one day I suggested we start a brewery then it snowballed from there. We only had experience with homebrew beers so we were starting from scratch although it was an experience and we learned on the job,” Nigel explained.
“We formed the brewery in 2017 but we didn’t start selling any beer until the following year. We were still brewing in my shed on a 20-litre homebrew kit so to get one cask out we would have to double brew. We weren’t making a great deal of beer then so we rented a kit from Mr Grundy’s in Derby which allowed us to get 12 casks out per brew. We started to gain a bit of a reputation after that.”
The result has been a range of popular craft beers with unusual names such as Swamp Boats and Daisy Chains, Berry Good, Berry Nice and Statement of Intent. Their beers are now stocked at Cock and Hoop, Six Barrels, the Vat and Fiddle pubs among many others. As demand grew, it became clear that the duo needed a premises they could take over and make their own to produce the quantities they needed.
As luck would have it, an opportunity in Langley Mills presented itself in that Abstract Jungle brewery had been placed up for sale. So at the end of 2019, Michael and Nigel decided to take a chance and take on the premises just before Covid hit the following year.
“Simon King from Abstract Jungle Brewery at Langley Mill got in touch to say he was thinking about winding up the brewery and asked if we wanted to buy it. It was too good of an opportunity not to so that was in 2019. Obviously, in 2020, things went a bit skewwhiff and pear-shaped,” he said.
Nigel and Michael were still working full-time jobs outside of the brewery which meant they had financial security during one of the worst years for the pub and brewery industries. DIY or smaller breweries have spoken about the difficulty in supplying customers, keeping to changing safety regulations and watching their undelivered stock pile up during this time.
“We were lucky that we hadn’t jumped ship and done the brewery full time. We were still at our jobs so getting a wage every month so in that regard, we got lucky.”
As the world opens back up, demand has once again picked up so Nigel is now taking on the job full time and starting over after lockdown life and finding routine in the new normal.
“I’m more full-time now than I have been before and having to start over. I’m used to fitting everything into two days a week but now I have to manage my time better. When you do anything new, there are hiccups and bumps in the road so you have to try and adapt as you go along.”
When it comes to their best-selling beers, Nigel highlights that the Lumiere has the most compliments thanks to its unique blend of flavour. The duo has just released Statement of Intent which is described as having flavours of caramel, coconut, toffee, vanilla and chocolate malts.
“We get the most compliments on Lumiere which is our cherry, chocolate, ice cream sundae Imperial stout. That one has been the best received by customers although our Statement of Intent, our new barley wine has done really well too. We have a few Lambic-style beers which we made a couple of years ago which are still in barrels in storage. When they come out, if they taste as they are meant to, then they will be our biggest experimental beers yet.”
He added: “We are proud of the notoriety we have gained for our imperial stouts. We’ve released a few beers that we are really pleased with. Releasing Statement of Intent and Lumiere have been really proud moments for us. Both years that we have been at the Nottingham Craft Beer Festival have been standout moments for us as it was such a fantastic weekend.”
Written by: thehitnetwork