We've recently started stocking Southampton-based Unity Brewing Co, so to introduce you to this new brewery, we've asked the founder and head brewer Jimmy a few questions...
How did you become a brewer?
I used to work in wine sales and retail, but always had a big interest in beer after my Dad introduced me to Belgian beer from producers like De Dolle, Struise and De Ranke, and big American IPA's like Pliny the Elder and Great Divide Hercules. I was discovering you could get all the complexity and flavour experiences of really expensive wine but without the bullshit and for a hell of a lot less money. This got me into homebrewing and I finally made the jump, getting a job as the sales and marketing manager at a brewery in London. I was pretty hands on there and and learned a lot from the brewers, finding that I got a lot more out of making it than selling it. By then I was so far down the rabbit whole that I knew I wouldn't do anything else. 6 years later and having worked at 5 other breweries, here I am running my own.
What was the first beer you brewed and what was it like?
The first beer I ever homebrewed was a Belgian Blonde and it came out surprisingly good! Unfortunately not all my homebrews came out quite as well. The first commercial beer I ever brewed was a Rye Saison that the brewery I was doing sales for let me brew for my wedding. It came out much stronger that we expected (not accounting for Saison yeasts classic high attenuation) so our guests were pretty boozed but it tasted awesome. A theme of what I like to brew definitely developed pretty early on.
What excites you about making beer?
Taking a jumble of raw ingredients and turning them into something so much greater than their individual parts is magic. The subtleties of how every little thing in the process affects the final outcome is fascinating and getting to see people enjoy something you put a huge amount of love and effort into never gets old either.
Are there any collaborations you'd like to do or have in the works?
We're brewing with Vibrant Forest next Monday. They are good friends of ours and we've been talking about it for ages, so we're brewing a Coffee Blonde. We're also really excited to be a part of Collabageddon this year, set up by Elusive Brewing. It is 7 breweries brewing 8 beers, launched in 16 bars through the UK. We're matched up with Odyssey and Affinity, so look out for collabs with them late this year.
What is your favourite Unity beer?
That's like asking a parent who their favourite child is. So er, yes there is always a favourite! For me it has to be Congregate, our Belgian pale. It shows off all the ingredients really nicely, it's not big and really expressive, it's just light, clean and hoppy in a bitter, noble herbal and lemony way. I could drink it all day. The bottled versions of our seasonal saisons are really satisfying as well, I've got a real love for Brettanomyces and it develops really nicely when bottle conditioning with it.
What is your favourite non-Unity beer?
It's probably going to be Orval (at a year old to be precise, when the brett has really taken hold but the hops haven't totally dropped out yet), though I could drink Taras Boulba from Brasserie De La Senne all day every day.
What would you be doing if you weren’t a brewer?
I started a record label when I was in my early 20's and used to play in a lot of bands, maybe I'd be doing something in the music industry. Either that or running a craft beer shop which was actually the dream before I became a brewer.
Thanks to Jimmy for taking the time to answer these questions. We've really been enjoying the beers, so come down and try some yourselves! We currently have Quorum (brune), Coalescence (saison), Conflux (pale) and Congregate (Jimmy's fave!) in stock.