How drinking beer can also make the world a better place...
Better World Brewing (formerly No Heroes Brewing) have been wowing us here at Hoppily with their light, sessionable and crowd-pleasing beers balanced with their devotion to doing good by mother nature - so we caught up with founder Nick Marsh over Zoom to discuss beer, brewing and all things Better World.
Nick spent over 20 years working in the not-for-profit industry before starting Better World Brewing, so the answer to why they focus so much on charitable brews (forging a growing number of charity partnerships including with The Orangutan Foundation, Surfers Against Sewage and One Tree Planted) felt obvious. What we really wanted to know was…
Lots of great ideas come from having a beer together. It’s very sociable and personally, I think the world of craft beer is very progressive in its thinking. Sitting down and having a drink is a great way to bring people together in a positive way, to talk through some of the world’s problems, and how to do something good.
With a team made up of creatives and not-for-profit workers, how did you begin the process of setting up a brewing company?
Lots of training and working with good people. I undertook various brewing courses. I spent a week working at the Bristol Brewing Factory doing their brewing course.
I decided very early on that I would focus on working with good people making good recipes and getting involved with the early brews - but I didn’t want to set up our own physical brewery. I’ll be honest, 80% of it is cleaning and whilst I don’t mind that, it’s not what I wanted to spend my life doing!
So we decided we would focus on finding good partners instead, working with like-minded brewers like Pretty Decent, who have taken a similar not-for-profit approach.
We work on recipe development together, then I’ll attend and get involved in the first brews. We’ll refine it together, and I’ll leave them to handle the day-to-day. That said, I don’t want to be a contract brewer who says ‘I want a 4% pale Ale’ and that’s it. I want to be involved in the creative process; that’s what we’re about as a business.
Our ethos is quality, easy drinking beer that is good for the world.
The animal can designs have gone down a treat in the Hoppily bottle shop. What’s the thought process behind selecting which animals for which beer?
We start with animals that are iconic and, whether positive or negative, have a conservation story - as well as looking for animals that are going to look good on a can! That’s something we’ve developed and honed over time; we’re going more and more for animals that are able to look directly at you.
People always mention the Hog can, where they can’t work out whether to be scared of it or feel sorry for it. Hedgehogs are these lovely little creatures who, over the last 20 or years have had their populations decimated in the UK, so he’s a little bit pissed off - and that’s what we wanted to get across.
My daughter always asks me to do a Dog can or a Cat can, but we’re very set on ensuring that there is a conservation story about each animal.
We will be releasing a series of specials which will be tree-based so we will be moving away from the animals for some one-off releases, the first of which will be the Willow Tree. That's going to be a single hop mosaic Pale Ale which is being canned very soon.
We’ll probably do a series of single hops specials throughout the course of the next year.
So your partnership with One Tree Planted is here to stay then?
Definitely. We do the partnership with One Tree Planted, who plant a tree in Borneo, Mozambique or here in the UK for every beer we sell.
It’s quite easy to just plant trees, which is great because they play a massive part in the future of the planet, but we also wanted to find projects that went a little deeper.
We work heavily with people like The Orangutan Foundation. I was fortunate to have seen orangutans in the wild in Borneo and they’re an animal which has always stuck with me. We’re working on a project with them that will hopefully see around 60,000 trees planted in the next two years. The Foundation also works very closely with the local communities in the Kalimantan to give them other opportunities outside of palm oil and chopping down the forest which is really important as well.
Closer to home, we work with smaller charities, like the UK Hedgehog Society. We always get involved with Surfers Against Sewage through their big beach cleans and supporting their campaign activities. I’m always up for working with people who are doing their bit.
So what’s next for Better World Brewing?
For us, it’s about consolidation and working with good people in a long term way. Coming from the world of not-for-profit that’s where you get the biggest benefits, so supporting with money but also providing a platform and giving our time.
In terms of the brewing we want to focus on honing our style. We’re just learning which brews make up our best core range and want to continue releasing specials.
What we’re looking to do moving forward is to make sure that with every brew we produce, we offset all the carbon emissions. Right now our brews are quite small - so roughly around a tonne of carbon per brew - but what we want to do is make sure each brew is carbon negative, by planting trees to offset that.
And everything we use, as much as we can, comes from recycled material. The only thing we’re still working on is our labels, which are recyclable, but finding a better source for them is our first priority post-Covid.
…………………………………………………Big thanks to Nick for taking the time to chat. Make sure you take a closer look at Better World’s latest planet-saving craft beer range in the bottle shop.