The friends who brewed up a great craft beer business
By Tom Flint/ Brighton and hove Independent
Crafted Crate is a subscription company set up with the aim of providing customers with a monthly selection of the best craft beers from small independent brewers around the UK. Founders and lifelong friends Chris and Russ set up the business in the second half of 2015. I met with them to discuss Crafted Crate and why they decided to do what they do. Russ with Fourpure Brewing Tell me about Crafted Crate and where the idea came from? We were both keen beer fans and Russ had tried his hand at brewing his own. Initial chats were based around setting up a brewery and seeing where it could go.
This led us to attend a few ‘meet the brewer’ events and visit a couple of our favourite local craft breweries. We met a lot of amazing people with real dedication, passion and skill, and fell in love with the industry. We quickly realised that given our limited experience and the fact that there is already so much amazing craft beer available our efforts might be better placed in a slightly different direction.
What makes Crafted Crate different to other companies out there? We aim to meet all of our brewers face to face, to establish good connections with the people who make the finest craft beer in the country. We are committed to supporting the industry as a whole by re-investing 50 per cent of our profits, and have been discussing with brewers where best to allocate this money. Some of the potential schemes so far include shared equipment, bulk purchasing schemes and hop development, but we are keen to hear other ideas on how we can help.
What could someone expect if they were to join in? At its core we aim to deliver a journey of discovery. When you sign up you will receive a monthly crate of 12 craft beers which will be delivered to your door. This will include a selection of bottles and cans from some of the best craft brewers from around the country. Most are smaller independent brewers you may or may not have heard of, but all of them excellent. We try to include two different beers from each brewer to give you a better idea of the range of styles they produce.
Also in the box is the Crafted Rag, a newspaper-style pamphlet containing information about us, the brewers, beer-related news and upcoming events. There may also be a nice surprise hidden in there from time to time.
Arbor Craft Beers You are focused on collaboration and creating a community – why do you think that is important? Overall, so far, we have found the craft beer industry in the UK to be very open, friendly and sharing, and this is something which has intrigued us.
A lot of brewers are already getting together and producing great collaboration brews. We think the potential for amazing results when you get two or more great sets of skills, ideas and imaginations together is enormous, and we would like to encourage it as much as possible. Collaboration extends beyond the production of beer to the very core of Crafted Crate, and we hope to build a sharing, caring and collaborating community.
This will help us identify the challenges, difficulties, goals and dreams of independent craft beer producers, and be able to more effectively support them. It’s also a great way of keeping on top of events, news and developments in the craft beer industry. It is important to us to provide a good service to our customers, and therefore value feedback and opinions highly. We hope that we are open and approachable as a company and are always striving to improve the way we do things. We are in the process of setting up the Crafted Community, which will be a portal to facilitate discussion between ourselves, our fantastic customers and our producers, and we hope it will become a platform to open up the craft beer industry to everyone.
As a Brighton-based company, how has the local community embraced what you do and the craft beer movement as a whole? Brighton has been a great place to begin our journey with Crafted Crate. Not only do we have an amazing range of craft brewers, pubs, and bottle shops, but we have also met a lot of brilliant humans. Everyone we have met and spoken to has been amazingly supportive, encouraging and helpful. Of course, it helps if you are giving them free beer! We have encountered a huge amount of knowledge and talent across the board and have received invaluable advice and support, both technical and emotional. We are privileged to have received massive support from The Happy Startup School, a Brighton-based community of purpose-driven entrepreneurs and change makers, and count ourselves lucky to have met this amazing group of like-minded, helpful and knowledgeable people early on in our journey.