Alongside the area's established brewery Titanic, there's been an influx of new players to the game in recent years. Weal, Ran and Bike Shed are all bringing something new to the local beer scene, and that's what Mart's Craft Beer hope to do too.
We're delighted that they're holding their official launch at BottleCraft, and I sat down with Will Haywood, founder of Mart's, and long-time BottleCraft customer, to find out more ahead of the event...
So Will, tell me about yourself. What got you into brewing, and how long have you been doing it for?
I'm 37 and live and work in Stoke-on-Trent. I moved here for uni in 1998 and stayed after my degree.
Brewing is something that caught my attention as a hobby about four years ago, my band at the time had split up and I found myself with a lot more free time than I knew what to do with. Then I took a holiday in New York.
I wasn't expecting much from the place in terms of beer, having always heard the stories about low-strength, mass-produced rubbish being all that was available.
I was amazed by the variety available and the range of flavours over there. I've always loved real ale, but it had been taken to the next level. I decided there that I wanted to do this for myself.
So a few months later I'm standing in my kitchen, armed with an American recipe book, a glass Demi John, a couple of saucepans and some tubing that looked like it belonged in an episode of Breaking Bad. The result was some pretty horrible beer.
I stuck with it though, and before too long I was brewing better beer in greater quantities than I could consume!
Lots of people home brew. What made you decide to take the step up and turn it into a business?
Once I'd scaled up my home brewing, I started to realise that I wouldn't be able to drink it all myself and began to hold tasting events with friends and family.
It turns out that people are a lot more tolerant of taste when beer is free, and I started to wonder if my beer was being received so well because it was good, or because it was free.
I decided to hold a tasting event where I gave people samples in unmarked containers of my beer and also professionally brewed craft ales of similar styles. The results were still pretty positive. I started to think to myself that maybe I have something here that people would buy.
What kind of kit do you use? How much can you brew at once?
My kit is 200 litres in capacity, giving a maximum yield of around 170 litres. All beers are bottled at present, but I intend to investigate kegging in the near future.
Tell me about the beers you’ll have available from launch.
I'm starting with 3 beers:
Smiley Face IPA - 5.8% - brewed brewed with US and NZ hops Sweet Tooth Porter - 4.5% - brewed with rye malt and UK and US hops Early Bird Pale Ale - 3.9% - a lower strength pale with US hops
All are vegetarian and vegan friendly.
What can people expect at the launch event?
The launch night will be the first chance for people to try these beers, the full range will be on sale and samples will be available to try. There'll be discounts on take home bottles and merch available. Also a talk about the brewery from myself (timing to be confirmed) and I'll be around to answer any questions and happily receive feedback.
Any news on where your beers will be available going forward? (Besides BottleCraft of course)
My aim is to introduce my beers to the local bottle shops and free houses in and around Staffordshire. I also hope to be involved in makers' markets and festivals over 2017.
Mart's Official Launch is at BottleCraft on Friday 27th January, from 7pm. Check out the Facebook event for more info.
See you there!