Starting a career in hospitality working with various drinks and spirits is what drove Philip Anderson to start his own brewery.
Establishing Beer Story – which is based in Insch Business Park – at the tail end of 2017, Philip had worked in the hospitality industry for a number of years before jumping into the world of drinks.
Progressing his way up the career ladder at The Marcliffe Hotel and Spa while studying product design at Robert Gordon University, Philip took on a trainee management position which allowed him to delve into various departments, growing his flavour profiling and drinks knowledge as he went.
Deciding to take the leap and start his own brewery, he generated interest for funds from family friends and set to work.
One year on, the beer can now be found in more than 35 local establishments and is sent as far south as London.
Philip said: “I went to Robert Gordon University to study product design and at the same time I worked part-time as a porter at The Marcliffe.
“When I finished my degree, they offered me a trainee management position. I went through all the different departments like chefing, bar, the restaurant, and then became a junior manager. I then went on to work as the restaurant manager and was then promoted to the assistant general manager.
“It was at this point that I met our first head brewer and we began talking about starting up a brewery and what money was needed to back it.
“We got investment from a couple of guys who worked in the oil industry that I knew through family and we just sort of went for it.
“I guess it was working with drinks at The Marcliffe that really inspired me to get into the drinks industry. We brewed our first beer On The Road, which went down really well with everyone and won a star at the Great Taste Awards last year.
“Since then, it’s been full steam ahead.”
Boasting eight beers, three in the core range and four additional flavours including a key kegged IPA, the brand has gone from strength to strength building its portfolio.
“We’ve got three beers in our core range now,” said Philip.
“There’s the Outsider’s IPA, the Clockwork Zest and On The Road. Once we had them we wanted to get a little experimental. We did a lot of market research and wanted to be different when doing different flavours, which has been quite fun.”
Adopting two key themes – travel and books – into the marketing of the brand, the cans, which are used for the experimental brews, and the bottles, which boast the core range, are both quite different.
He said: “We have two different themes we wanted to implement into our brand which were travel and books. For the bottles, the designs were the book theme for the label.
“It’s like a library card with a peel section which features some of our old head brewer’s favourite writers and musicians. It was a nice personal feel to it and a nice surprise for the consumer.
“The cans are much more stripped back and are like plain paper with just our logo and the name of the beer on it.
“It’s all about writing your own story and we also wanted it to be easy for the customer to know exactly which beer was which and to easily identify it.”
Dabbling in some unique flavours, Beer Story has introduced Belgian Lychee and Strawberries And Cream into the mix.
“Having a range of flavours allows us to give people a chance to try different things and the canned beers are where we get to be really creative,” said Philip.
“With Wimbledon taking place over summer, we brought out the Strawberries And Cream brew. It was getting sent all over the country.
“Within the brewery we have a small brewing kit to experiment with different flavours. We’ve brewed some crazy stuff and talked about making things like an onion bhaji beer or a savoury one.
“When I was at The Marcliffe, one of the areas I worked in was the kitchen. You get a good idea for flavours that will or won’t work well together.
“I’ve always liked lychee, so I knew that would work. It’s a delicate flavour, so it was always going to need to be a pale ale or something light to ensure it didn’t damage the overall flavour profile. That’s where the brewer really comes into play.”
Securing various distributors and stockists, Beer Story has already been featured in Scottish Aldi stores.
Philip said: “There are so many craft breweries out there and we managed to secure a few distributors and our products have even been in Aldi, so it’s been going really well so far. We have had great feedback and it has been amazing to see so many people enjoying our products.
“To have Aldi come in from the start and order two palettes of the IPA from us, that’s been brilliant. They’ve also asked us to do a beer for the spring, so that is really cool.
“We’ve got 35 to 40 places in Aberdeen and then our next big market is London. We now need to try to get everything else in the middle. We work with United Supplies, Huffman’s, Beer 52 and Flavourly and you’ll find our beer locally in places like No. 1 Bar and Grill, Hammerton Stores, Borsalino’s, Soju, Angus and Ale, FreshMex, The Marcliffe Hotel, Ardoe House Hotel and so many more.”
Dabbling in new products, exporting is the next big development the team at Beer Story hopes to tackle going into 2019.
“We’ve an array of tanks,” said Philip. “We had 12-barrel fermentation vessels, but we’ve just invested in 18-barrel UK vessels. We’ve got a big announcement which will be happening in the coming months, so we’ve invested in a lot of equipment to do this different thing we’ll be doing.
“We also have a new brewer who started with us in November, so he’s been getting to grips with everything in the brewery. It’s an exciting time.
“Exporting will also be a big thing for us. We’re speaking to people in Spain and in France, too. Brexit is kind of the land of the unknown, so that may cause a few hurdles for exporting down the line, but it’s just one of those things we’re going to have to deal with.”