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Mark Hislop, founder of Hale Brewing

Mark Hislop, founder of Hale Brewing

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Published by Leonardo Calcagno

 Who are you and what is your background?

My Names Mark Hislop, I’m the founder of Hale Brewing In Tottenham. My background was mostly in Music, which led as it often does to a need for extra cash and picking us a job in a pub, I just happened to pick one in Glasgow Called Blackfriars with an amazing beer culture, I caught the bug there looking after Cask beer and also being introduced to US Craft beer like Dogfish Head, Sierra Nevada, and Flying Dog. I went on to Work for BrewDog for 5 years in their first brewery and helped open about 10 bars for them, I then did 2 years as a business development manager at Redchurch Brewery helping them grow, open the taproom and develop the urban farmhouse sour beer project with James Rylance. After that hale brewing just kind of happened as an offshoot of a Night club project I did with some friend in Tottenham. We brew in 2 shipping containers outside the club.

Your job and current title?

There’s only really me and Dan Price, We do everything really so no set jobs, although Dan claims to be “shit with Computers” so I have to do all the boring paperwork and spreadsheets. I guess that makes me reluctant business guy.

In what city?

London

A word to define what type of worker you are:

Busy

Where does your interest in microbrewery come from?

I love the flavor and creating flavors. I always cooked with my granny and my mum and was always around kitchens when I was young. My first jobs were washing pots and did a little chef work when I was a teenager. Beer is an evolution of that. I love the process if an idea or an ingredient inspiring a finished product & the process of following that path from start to finish is just something I take great joy from.

What makes your beer unique? Why?

I think we’re just really fearless in our creativity, in our first year we’ve made A mushroom Flanders Red, Miso Gose, Cheesecake Pale, Irn Bru sour, Cherry blossom, and Black rice Saison, chocolate Lager, the list goes on. We also make subtle pales and saisons. but we’ve always stuck to the idea of constantly pushing ourselves to do unusual beers and steer clear of the Hype beers everyone else in the UK is doing.

What is the size of the brewery (number of barrels per year, etc.)?

we’re 500 liters so about 3 UK barrels, we Brew 3/4 times a week if we can but that will be changing soon with a new brewery on the way.

What tools are essential to your life (app, software)?

We’re a really manual brewery without any bells or whistles really so I guess our one luxury is a wet & Dry Hoover. I love that wee guy. when it comes to getting the last grain out the mash tun or last-hop slurry from an FV our wet & dry hoover saves the day.

What does your office space look like?

We don’t really have one but I tend to perch upon the little fold-out tables in the bar we brew outside. it’s an interesting space always something going on, which can be a bit distracting as can the fact I’m sitting in a pub with beer available all day.

Do you have a way to organize your days to optimize your work?

I’m a big fan of the to-do list, I use my Gmail and google task to set out my week and work through the list. I find it really productive to have that tab open in my email as I sit and work and just constantly chip away at the different lists.

Any “tips” to improve productivity?

I think just starting the week with things I must absolutely do this week, keep it achievable and have other lists which you pul form when those things get done. I’ve recently used a system form a site called think productive which has kept my inbox at zero with just having 3 tabs to work through. That has changed the way o work and made it much easier to be sure shits getting done.

 Can you give us a tour of your local craft beer brewery scene?

We’re really lucky to be around some great breweries, The UK scene has always been such a collaborative welcoming environment I feel really blessed to be part of, and Tottenham has some great breweries who have been good to us. a five-minute walk up the canal is Beavertown, Logan has been a Friend of ours for years and he’s helped us numerous times with equipment or ingredients when we need something in an emergency. they invited us to there beer festival and put us in the limelight with a collaboration brew. We also have Pressure Drop who are great guys and making some really good stuff, they really do well with the NEIPA hazy stuff managing to get Nuance and defined hop character in styles that a lot of UK breweries just throw hops at with little skill and the result is onion soup, those guys are probably the UK’s best at the hazy stuff. One mile end is just around the corner and do some great hoppy pale and IPAS, the did a banging 10% bier De Garde and their barrel-aged stuff is great and Redemption brewery is something of the older statesman round here. They do a lot of great beer but their cask beer is just a thing of beauty, always in great condition and the 3% trinity is a triumph of British cask brewing.

How do you control the growth of your microbrewery?

We’re quite careful with the little stock we have. We like to work with small Independent Bars, groups or wholesalers. We’ve been very lucky to have picked up good accounts from the start and we want to support those people as we grow. I never want a supermarket chain or a big bar chain taking 50% of what we make. It gives them too much power over you and I always want to grow our sales through genuine relationships with other passionate small businesses. Our product will always be more complex than the average beer and it needs passionate people who know their stuff to communicate that to their customers that’s the best way for our brand to grow and for people to get excited about what we’re doing.

What is your strategy for making your beer known? (tastings, festival, etc.) Why this strategy?

We have the bar where we brew and we’ve hosted a lot of parties there. We do a lot of collaborations with like-minded breweries which helps introduce us to new markets and automatically puts us in a bracket of other highly regarded Craft breweries. Being so small we’ve never really had to push sales very much but I’m sure the time will come soon.

About design, what does your brand represent/reflect? 

We wanted something that reflected the working-class history of Tottenham. The word hale comes from this being a haulage point where ships were unloaded and distributed along with the canal system. That’s why our logo is a crane hook. We’re pretty socialist as are most people in the craft beer world so we wanted our brand to reflect our working-class background and the fact that beer shouldn’t forget that at the end of the day it’s the drink of the working man.

Design: how was it designed? By who?

the logo was done by an artist friend of our Rob Whorisky

What inspires you and motivates you to go to work every day?

I really love brewing, our kit is 5th hand worn-out gear and I love all the little squeaks and clicks it makes as it struggles through a brew. It’s such a hands-on kit and I just really love turning up with all the ingredients ready and going through the process and clean down with minimum disruption form the outside world. after years of dealing with other peoples stresses, I just find brewing a really holistic experience.

 What is the best advice given to you?

a guitar teacher told me when I was 15 and stressed about school exams, and what-to-do as a career ” don’t worry about that shit. the most interesting people I know didn’t know what they wanted to be until they were at least 40, do what you love the rest will fall into place”

What are your end and start routines?

we normally start with coffee and getting some music on, we finish quite often with a beer.

What were your biggest challenges as an entrepreneur?

I’m not a naturally organized person. I tend to have a lot of ideas and sometimes lose focus. I’ve had to work really hard at organizing my self and making sure I can surround my self with people who are good at stuff I’m not, and then making sure I delegate to them

What advice would you give someone who wants to start a brewery?

Don’t do what everyone else is doing. the world isn’t crying out for more lager and pale, do something interesting that you’ll be proud of.

Apart from your computer and your phone, what gadget cannot you do without?

We always try and plug MiniRig the UK made Bluetooth speaker we use in the brewery they sound really great and we’re hoping with enough plugging we might get some free stuff.

Any new projects coming soon? (eg products, etc.)

We’ve got a wild beer that’s been in steel for 6 months. its an amber ale with fermented hibiscus and its smelling amazing. We also have plans for a black pudding stout in the next few weeks which could be the best or worst idea we’ve ever had.

At the end of the day, what kind of beer do you drink to relax?

I really love our pale, it’s a 4.2% hoppy pale with great mouthfeel and aroma. I also love stopping for an old school pint of the cask at the old theatre pub on my way home called Ye Old Rose & Crown, the kind of pub that can only exist in London. there’s always some breweries I’ve never heard of and the beers always in amazing condition.

hale.beer | twitter.com/halebrewing | facebook.com/halebrewing | instagram.com/halebrewing | 

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