To celebrate Small Business Saturday, we got in touch with our Good friends, Dom & Ade, over at Carnival Brewing to tell us a little more about their art and the secret to great craft beer.
1. Let’s hear a bit about yourselves; how & when did you start your craft? What inspired you? Why did you start this?
Carnival was conceived in 2017 by us (Dom Hope-Smith and Ade Burke) when we met at the Clearview Carnival in South Liverpool. We met via a mutual friend and became friends through our love of music and beer.
Dom was a home brewer, Ade had a large garage and Holly, Dom's wife, wanted all the brewing paraphernalia out of the kitchen, so we established ourselves a nano-brewery in Ade's garage. We worked with two of our beloved bars, Grapes of Knight St and Pi on Rose Lane who helped us get our beers to a local audience. We then decided to go for it.
After building up some funding and developing a brand we set about looking for a place to make Carnival a home. After lots of searching we found our current location, a large warehouse in Liverpool's waterfront. We built a brewery, a tap room, employed a great team and set to work building Carnival into what we hope will be a long-lasting, well-loved and boundary-pushing brewery.
2. Your products are stunning! The beers are all so unique - how do you come up with the different flavours & designs?
Thanks! We explore traditions in beer making, the use of different yeasts, fermentation techniques, trial flavour combinations and new products. Importantly we listen to our customers who love craft beer and want something different, so our aim is to create new experiences that excite us and are enjoyed by our customers. We take more common styles of beer like IPAs, stouts, Gose and we give then a twist, for example we age beer in spirit and wine oak barrels to create something new and unique. We collaborate with artists, musicians and other breweries to create new and exciting ideas. Our recently launched collaboration beer is a great example of this, a big Imperial IPA we made with local brewer, Love Lane, called Paisley, loosely inspired by fashion patterns we love. The can looks beautiful and the beer tastes as good as it looks.
3. With suppliers in specific products, we often find that they are talking about the products so much all day that they don’t supply their own shelves with it - the shoemaker has holes in his shoes, so to speak! Do you drink a lot of beer at home?
We absolutely love beer, and our fridges are packed with unusual beers from around the world- for research purposes of course! Sure, we love a can or two of IPA or a fruited sour with our dinner. All in moderation of course!
4. What are your future plans for Carnival?
Well 2020 was a pretty tough year to establish and grow a business but we worked really hard to develop unusual and delicious beers and a tap room that we know our customers love, and we are pretty ambitious. We want to build on our local success and have plans to move Carnival forward, including export into Europe and beyond.
5. How much did you plan the current success of Carnival? And what has been your favourite thing about seeing it so successful?
We are only a very young business so success is relative. We have established ourselves fairly quickly but there is still a long way to go. The idea that under a year we have permanent taps in some great places, and have achieved top 50 UK brewery on Untappd (popular beer rating app) gives us confidence we are doing something right.
6. Do you have any exciting projects in the pipeline? Anything to get the Good people of Liverpool excited about?
We get most excited when we combine our passions of music and beer. This year we have been lucky enough to work with the Bonnacons of Doom, Whyte Horses and the legendary Osees. Each beer project is different and we try to imbue the beer with flavours that match the personality and style of the band. Mum's the word for now but we have some pretty exciting music-beer collaborations planned for 2021. We will be expanding our barrel-ageing project and buying our own canning machine so we can release new beers, more frequently. We also plan to release a gluten-free beer fairly early in 2021.
7. We are all about supporting our neighbours and local independents, if you could give any advice to other makers & traders, what would it be?
If you have a good product you are passionate about, try it out on a small-scale, get as much feedback as you can and keep your spirits high. Family and friends are vital in keeping you motivated to develop and refine your recipes and ideas.
Then establish your customer base, set up a website and social media presence and go for it. Work with your neighbours, be open to collaboration, share ideas and be kind. There are lots of great people about who want to help others. Be one of those.
8. Being a Liverpool based marketplace, what do you think makes Liverpool so special?
Liverpool is a place which embraces you and makes you feel welcome. The city has a natural inclination to entrepreneurship and pride in itself. We have had so much support from other local businesses and the good will we have experienced really helps especially in times like these.