Growing up in the working class neighbourhoods of the Black Country, the pub was a part of everyday life for Beavertown founder Logan Plant from a young age.
“The pub was the saviour for every man and woman, therefore beer was a major part of my DNA and genetic thread,” he says.
It is little wonder then that Plant, the son of Led Zeppelin frontman Robert, went on to build a career in the beer trade.
Such was the importance of the pub in his family’s everyday life that his grandfather, also called Robert, even spent the final hours of his life in one. Beavertown’s bestselling beer, Neck Oil, is a homage to Plant’s grandfather who used the term to describe his drink of choice.
After giving up ambitions to follow in his father’s footsteps with a career in the music industry, Plant began experimenting with brewing beer in his kitchen. Eight years on and Beavertown is selling its beers in pubs and retailers across the country and has just opened Beaverworld, London’s largest brewery.
The new facility in Enfield, a 129,000 sq ft unit spread over six acres of land, has been funded by Dutch beer giant Heineken, which spent £40m on a 49pc stake in Beavertown in 2018.
Plant expects the new brewery to create 150 jobs over the next three years and hopes to eventually open a visitor centre while providing space for local businesses such as markets and remote workers.
It will give Beavertown the capacity to brew 90m pints of Beavertown’s beer every year – 10 times more than at its original site in Tottenham – helping to make Plant’s dreams of bringing craft beer to the masses a step closer to reality.
“If we can get great beer on every street corner of the UK then we’re giving people a choice,” he says.
“Craft beer is now mainstream, people want to experiment and drink IPAs and sour beers.
“The beer industry has changed massively over the past 10 years and it’s not often that an industry is turned inside out and changed so much; we want to spearhead that.”
Plant says Beavertown’s tie-up with Tottenham Hotspur is a prime example of how it is bringing craft beer to the masses. The football club opened a new stadium last year on the famous old White Hart Lane site and is now home to a microbrewery run by Beavertown.
In normal times around 60,000 people visit the stadium each week, with 40pc of the beer drunk by football fans made by Plant’s brewery.
“If you visit the stadium there are eighty year olds through to eighteen year olds and everybody across the board is drinking our beer,” Plant says. “That says to me it’s about accessibility.”
Plant’s claims that craft beer is now part of the mainstream is not a view that will sit well with some of the industry’s purists, but it is not the first time he has found himself on thin ice with his peers. News of Heineken’s investment in Beavertown in 2018 sparked uproar among indie beer fans and prompted around half the breweries scheduled to take part in Beavertown’s Extravaganza beer festival that year to pull out in protest at the deal.
It even led to some independent beer retailers removing Beavertown from its shelves. They said it would be “hypocritical” to stock a brand owned by big beer.
Not that it particularly matters to Beavertown’s bottom line. The brewery’s beers have been slowly creeping onto supermarket shelves in recent years, with Marks & Spencer, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s all stocking them, and Plant does not want to stop there.
“With the capacity that we now have, we can hopefully start to entertain even more supermarkets,” he says.
“Whether its Tesco, Morrisons or Asda; they’ve all got footprints all over the country, so it would be great to work with them.”
Beavertown’s contracts with supermarkets and convenience stores played a crucial role in seeing the business through lockdown as people were forced to swap the pub for the park. Plant estimates that sales of Beavertown’s beers in the off-trade surged as much as 150pc during that time.
“When the Government shut down the whole of hospitality that was probably 85pc of our business, which was a huge blow for us,” he says. “Thankfully, we’ve got really good relationships with some of the big supermarkets and our sales through them went through the roof when lockdown happened.
“Our little webstore which was doing £1,000 a week was suddenly doing £100,000 a week and within two weeks it had gone from this cottage industry to an industrial outfit.
“Without the support of the partners that we have currently, our outlook over those three or four months would have been very different.”
Beavertown notched up sales growth of almost 80pc to around £35m during its 2019/20 financial year and had aspirations to grow further this year. Plant is realistic, but still hopes sales will come in at least flat on last year’s levels.
“We’ve seen how it’s affected us so if we could meet what we did last year from a sales and volume perspective we would be thrilled,” he adds.
With vast amounts of production being shifted to Beaverworld in Enfield, Plant says Beavertown’s original home in Tottenham will be transformed into a research and development site where the firm can test new styles and collaborate with other breweries on projects.
Neck Oil currently accounts for around 70pc of Beavertown’s production and is part of the brewery’s core range of six beers.
The company has just launched its first low-alcohol beer, Nanobot, as it looks to cash on the craze for low and no alcohol drinks.
Plant says the beer is created for someone like him in mind as it means he can “have a beer every night” without getting “too buzzed” at an ABV of 2.8pc.
He now wants to create a non-alcoholic beer that replicates the hoppy flavours the rest of Beavertown’s range is known for.
“It’s a really tricky style because alcohol gives you that body and flavour and experience on your palate so getting it just right, is a really tricky thing for brewing,” Plant says.
But his bigger ambition over the next few years is to get Beavertown sold in bars and supermarkets around the world.
“Most of our concentration over the first eight years has been focused on local. Now Beaverworld and the increased capacity will give us the opportunity to work with other partners around the world,” Plant says.
“Our export manager has been busy over the past six to nine months looking at different partners, whether it’s in Ireland, France, Italy, Germany or Russia.”
If Plant could choose just one place overseas to sell Beavertown’s beers?
“It would be Ibiza because we go there a lot as a family – not to party obviously,” he adds. “I’ve been going there since I was about six months old and every year ever since so to be able to sit by the pool and crack open a fresh Neck Oil would be really nice.”
Ibiza will have to wait for now, but at the time of speaking Plant is preparing to visit his father for a socially distanced barbecue to celebrate his 72nd birthday.
Plant senior’s favourite Beavertown beer is now Gamma Ray after his son managed to “get him off the Tennent’s [lager]”.
“We’ll be cracking some of those open this weekend,” he adds.