Picture this. You’re 21. You’re a student. You like beer (obviously), you’re dirt poor (obviously) and you’d quite fancy turning your hobby into big business. Who wouldn’t?
This was a dream that became a reality for two Manchester students.
George Grant, 26, and Paul Delamere, 27, started off selling 50 pints a week at house parties and are now thought to be the youngest established professional brewers in the country.
I sat down with these beer brewing bad boys and a glass of Session IPA [crisp, fruity, hoppy] in the back yard of the incredibly quirky and eclectically unique Antwerp Mansion, a renovated Victorian mansion off the Curry Mile in Rusholme, to get the lowdown on how they got started and their plans for the future.
The two met at Manchester University – probably in the queue for the union bar – as 21-year-old undergraduates who, after trying home brewing as a hobby, started selling 50 pints of beer a week, charging £2 for a pint that cost them 60p to make.
Tired of the blander lagers brewed by giant commercial breweries, they spotted a gap in the market and decided to create a beer ‘their young friends could identify with.’
“We wanted to start a company focusing on people like ourselves and our friends,” says George, who studied international business finance and economics, getting a 2:1 despite spending less of his time poring over books than pouring beer.
“Our aim was to create beers with a younger image and bolder flavours. We feel it’s vital that the millennial generation and our drinkers can identify with our beers and company, not just consume it. Our core customers are people like ourselves.”
Their love for kicking back in a bit of a shindig inspired the company name and, as it grew, it became known as the Shindigger.
So far they have produced 10 new beers, all vegan, and specialise in low alcohol by volume (ABV) session beers inspired by the American craft scene. They are sold in over 150 Manchester bars and to more than 60 stockists across England and Scotland, and are planning to extend their empire nationwide this year.
The beers are light and crisp with a citrusy edge, but hoppy at the same time. The kind of drink you’d order in a Northern Quarter beer garden, on tap, where it can’t get any fresher. Or drink at home, on your couch, after a big day (or before a big night at somewhere like Antwerp Mansion).
So what advice can they dish out for other students who want to turn a home brew hobby into a proper business?
“Now is the best time to go for it,” said Paul, sipping slowly on his beer. “You don’t have anything to hold you back and stop you taking a risk as a graduate. Give it a go. If it fails, you don’t have much to lose.
“Start testing your idea. Now’s the best time to test your idea at the lowest possible cost and bring it to light without having to throw a huge amount of money at it.”
“Get out there and do it!” said George, nodding his agreement, bottle top to lips.
“Move from talking and thinking about your idea and actually start doing it. Seek out feedback and progress your idea off the drawing board. To achieve a big goal all you need is to achieve little steps. What might seem like an impossible task is then achievable.
“Speak to people in the industry and potential suppliers, customers and the people who are going to bring your idea to light. See if there is interest out there. Don’t be afraid to engage with people.”
Next month they are hosting Shindigger Sessions’ biggest event of the year – an all-day house party showcasing some of Manchester’s best musical talent – also at Antwerp Mansion.
A Conservative Club in the 1920s, it has become one of the most original nightclub venues in Britain – a thriving art, film and photography haven and a unique setting for raves and parties.
It’s the kind of place that feels like an insider’s secret. After all, there’s not even a sign on the building, nothing to indicate that it holds some of the most creative and exciting club nights in the city. So why did they choose it?
“We’re going from a company that started selling beer at house parties to hosting our own unique house party at one of the most vibrant and electric student shindigs. It just fits. We’ve come full circle.”
Speaking of full circle, the sun’s gone in and our third glasses of beer are almost empty.
So next time you’re out, try a Shindigger. It’s a beer set to take over 2017.
See you by the taps.
Saturday May 20 2017
Book tickets at www.shindiggersessions.co.uk
For your chance to win a pair of tickets and two free pints of Shindigger click here