We are Brewing Folk
2023: A year in review
What is, or rather who are Brewing Folk. A question we’ve been asked a lot this year. It’s a good question to start with don’t you think?
Brewing Folk is interested in programming, curating, collaborating and celebrating all things culture. We’re interested in artists ploughing their own furrow, creating their own worlds and leading the way with words, music and visual arts.
Having said this we love a party. I mean, everyone love’s a party right? We provide space for brilliant new ideas to have a change to breathe beyond the mainstream but not in opposition to it.
Now we should point out that there have been amazing events and DJs playing at the Taproom since day one. It’s not unusual in itself for venues and bars across the world to have live music, DJs, Quiz nights and live comedy and the Taproom has all of this.
With Brewing Folk we decided to ever so slightly expand things out a little from the events already happening. So, Brewing Folk would promote nights at the Taproom but also could appear elsewhere, either as Brewing Folk DJs or by booking or curating at other venues and festivals.
Brewing folk is more than this email, it is everything that happens here at the brewery and taproom. It’s an opportunity for us to facilitate and work with those people in the world of arts & culture.
So how did things shape up in 2023?
January started strong with our first ever Brewing Folk podcast. DJ, musician and author Richard Norris. We chatted to Richard about his extensive career, from his first musical experiences in psych bands, us through his new compilation album DEEP IN THE WOODS, as well as taking us through his career in music, including The Grid, Beyond the Wizards Sleeve right up to today with his Music for Healing series. up to the present day.
Also in January we had Justin Robertson join us. Justin is a renowned DJ, music producer, painter and broadcaster. For the past 30 years he has been a leading figure in the dance music world. He headlines clubs and festivals around the globe as a DJ and formerly with his band LionRock. As well as his own musical productions, he is much in demand as remixer having worked with the likes of Bjork, New Order, Noel Gallagher & Erasure over the years.
Before the month of January was out we welcomed Doug Shipton, co-founder of Finders Keepers Records. Finders Keepers have been the purveyors of found sounds for the past decade or so. Specialising in the weird and wonderful world of psych, funk, beats found in multiple generations of uncharted genres and global origins. Doug talked us through his journey from working in licensing rare, unsung and forgotten gems for Cherry Red Records and how Finders Keepers became the much revered legendary label that is today. Alongside this podcast from Doug we also had the other Finders Keepers co-founder Andy Votel bring the Finders Keepers vibes to the Taproom, an eclectic and exciting night of music with much revelry and dancing!
As we entered the month of February we kept our foot on the gas with the founder of Mr Bongo Records David Buttle. Mr Bongo started life in 1989 as a small record shop underneath Daddy Kool’s Reggae Store on Berwick Street in London. They were the first shop to sell vinyl releases from independent hip hop labels such as Def Jam, Rawkus, Nervous and Big Beat outside of the USA. They also became an established bearer for hard-to-find, classic Latin music, particularly Brazilian, outside of the Americas.
Verdant had the pleasure of working with Mr Bongo for the last 4 years, after meeting the team at an event in the Brighton Beer Dispensary back in 2018. A small pub tucked away in the heart of Brighton, sadly no longer with us.
Our podcast with David is a fascinating listen. We start right at the beginning of the Mr Bongo story dating back to when David was visiting Brazil to record and discover music. This podcast takes us through to the licensing and signing of reissues and new music. Some of these bands are now household names, others still more underground but all of the music is incredible and there is much to dig into here and new favourite records to be found.
February also welcomed White Rabbit books to the Taproom for the first time. White Rabbit Founder Lee Brackstone was joined by David Keenan critically acclaimed author of books such as: This Is Memorial Device, Industry of Magic & Light & Monument Maker amongst many others and poet and novelist Will Burns.
David took to the decks after the readings and conversations had ended for a wild and untamed night of massive bangers from across the musical spectrum. Watching David’s enthusiasm and love for music was totally infectious, a man possessed, he could easily have been headlining Glastonbury given the amount of energy he put into things, we were spoiled rotten!
As we entered early spring we built on the relationship with White Rabbit and got super excited about the idea of publishing columns on Brewing Folk, curated by Lee Brackstone. The column is ‘My Life in Beer’ and looks at writers’ relationships with beer and drinks, from beer lovers to teetotal lifestyles it’s all here in an ever-growing series of contributions from some of the finest writers of today. We love this column and find it interesting learning more about people, there are some great stories here, some cautionary tales and some laugh out loud half remembered moments of hilarity. David Keenan kicked it all off with his love of Hops.
On the Spring Equinox we got involved in a really lovely celebration of spring. Not strictly a Brewing Folk event but we were there and loved being part of a huge scale landscape art project by Jamie Reid at The Lost Gardens of Heligan. There was music, a procession, costumes and wildflower seeds handed out for people to take home and create their own wildflower patch in a garden or piece of earth. Oliver Berry wrote about the day in more detail here.
In April it was our pleasure to support Wanderfal, a great festival organised by The Cornish Bank with over 70 artists and musicians across five incredible Falmouth venues including The Princess Pavilions, The Cornish Bank, The Poly, The Underland and Beerwolf! Plus Verdant beers on tap for the duration!
Oh boy, did April start off strong! Up we went to London for our collaboration with Tate. Working with the Tate is always an exciting proposition. When asked if we would like to work on the upcoming exhibition between Hilma AF Klint & Piet Mondrian we jumped at the opportunity.
The project was split across both ourselves and Deya Brewing. We were given the artist Piet Mondrian and tasked with making a beer and label artwork that has been inspired by Piet. No mean feat!
We asked our friend Justin Robertson if he would like to work with us and Tate and he totally delivered the goods. What joy to see Justin’s painting on display in the Tate Modern with a great late and thousands of people enjoying our specially crafted Verdant brew ‘the Last Note’ which also featured Justin’s painting on the can.
We had a second artistic project kick off in April too. This time working with award winning sound artist Justin Wiggan. Justin Wiggan as our artist in residence for the coming months.
Justin will be using all of his skills to create a series of sounds in the form of separate audio files which will filed under different categories. Essentially, we will have the sounds of People, Brewing, Machines and Ingredients.
Justin describes his art, methods, practice and this particular project for Verdant here
The merry month of May took us up to Manchester for an all day Block Party at the Track Brewing Tap Room.
We headed up north with a fine selection of Verdant beers and DJs. A day full of great music, great beer and wonderful people.
Also In May we had a visit from Garage Beer Co, based in Barcelona.
Verdant have been visiting each Autumn for the past few years for their annual beer festival MASH. The festival was back in full flow in 2022 after a couple of years off and we managed to encourage Alberto Zamborlin to agree to come to Cornwall to join us for a brew at our home here in Penryn. Flanked by their head Brewer, Dan Ashley. The guys joined us for a few days of fun and work. We caught up with them to hear their story.
In collaboration with Sea Change Festival in Totnes we worked together on a south west Weekender.
We had a stellar lineup over the Bank Holiday Weekend, not the coronation one but the proper one at the end of the month! Friday we brought you Dave Maclean from Django Django, Saturday was Chris Menist with his World Disco Vibes, and Sunday a return visit from Andy Votel representing Finders Keepers. Meanwhile over in Totnes we supplied a special Sea Change brew throughout the weekend across their multiple venues and enjoyed so much incredible music. Can’t wait for the next one!
Three game changing things were invented in the neolithic (I may be straying into megalithomaniac mode here!), those inventions are beer, cheese and cremation! We plan to hold off on the latter for as long as possible but the other two came together beautifully for an evening of beer and cheese pairing with cheese expert Doug White. Our tastebuds were in heaven. You simply have to come along when we next repeat this one.
I think the highlight for May though and possibly 2023 had to be the visit from Jon Hopkins. To hear Jon DJ in the taproom with the spectacular visuals from Innerstrings was a wild experience. Mindblowing. What a night! Support came from Polyrhythmi who brough both ambient vibes to start and techno to close the night. In the middle part of the evening Jon totally smashed it with an amazing unforgettable set. Not only that but Verdant collaborated on a beer with Jon and this was a true collaboration based on music, numerology and expert brewing ability. ‘Light Through the Lens’ was the finished beer and Jon, James, Adam and Jim from Verdant all discussed the collaborative creative process as well as music, design and the number 9. An essential listen
At the start of June Billy & Kieran travelled over to Belfast to brew an IPA with Whiplash Brewing. Our mission was to see how far we could push their Mash Filter, and we pushed it until it broke. The resulting beer was ‘Looks Like Rain’ an incredibly hoppy .
We caught up with Alex Lawes and chatted all things Whiplash. From working at Guinness, the conception of Whiplash, through to the the thinking behind our collaboration and their exciting new project the Fidelity Bar.
Dance Your Way Home by Emma Warren is one of our favourite books published recently, covering the joy and experience of dancing, Dancing doesn’t just refract the music and culture within which it evolves; it also generates new music and culture. When we speak only of the music, we lose part of the story – the part that finds us dancing as children on the toes of adults; the half that triggers communication across borders and languages; the part that finds us worried that we’ll never be able to dance again, and the part that finds us wondering why we were ever nervous in the first place. There is so much more to it than that though so may we point you in the direction of listening to Emma in her own words.
Following the visit from David Maclean from Django Django in May we brewed up a beer to celebrate the launch of Off Planet their 5th studio album. Dave talked us through the inspiration for the album, songwriting, production, art & design, collaboration, AI, DJing and of course the beer too!
In July we had Emma Warren visit in person to head up a night celebrating dance, Emma was be joined by Ruth Pethybridge. Senior lecturer in Dance at Falmouth University, she is also a choreographer, facilitator and researcher. Then we danced! Thanks to DJ Bish who provided a red hot set of tunes to close the night. You can listen to the conversation between Emma and Ruth here.
We we’re excited to announce that we had the privilege of supporting local talent here in Penryn. The resulting short film Salvage, is a beautiful thing, formed around the relationship between two men.
We held a cast and crew screening at the Taproom and we are delighted to say that the film is incredible. A moving film set in Cornwall and depicting the place and people so well. We’re just so proud to have been able to help with this project.
The film has also been backed by BFI NETWORK, and created by Newlyn-based writer Callum Mitchell, and features award-winning actor Jamie Robson in the lead role of Bud, alongside a supporting cast of Mark Harandon as Sully and Harry Ladd in the young role of Patch.
We caught up with director Jonny Dry who also picked out some of his favourite music in this podcast about the film and his creative journey
Sarah Jackson wrote a great article for us towards the end of July about the yard at Verdant but more importantly about creating a wildlife garden in planters. The Taproom at Verdant is an inclusive place and every plant is native to somewhere when you think about it so the plants chosen for the planting scheme were chosen for their ability to attract insects rather than where they came from originally, an extension of how we think of community, Sarah’s piece beautifully illustrates our approach to looking after the environment.
We started August by chatting with Steve Davis (yes that Steve Davis!) & Kavus Torabi. Who together form the psychedelic outfit The Utopia Strong as well as being DJs together. This conversation led up to our White Rabbit Books event on Saturday 12th August. We talked, music, snooker, DJing at Wembley Stadium supporting Blur as well as playing music at taprooms around the country. A hugely entertaining conversation well worth a listen.
We also chatted with Richard Milward too, before he came down to see us as part of the White Rabbit Summer Party. In March 2023, White Rabbit published Richard’s fourth novel, Man-Eating Typewriter, alongside reissues of his previous three books. The novel has already received accolades from the Telegraph (‘deserves to be boosted by a prize or two’), the Literary Review (‘a phenomenal achievement’) and the Guardian (‘a genuinely exhilarating entertainment’). You can listen to Richard describe his approach to writing and hear his musical selections here
The Summer Party itself was a great afternoon of conversation and an evening of music. Richard Milward in conversation with Lee Brackstone, Jennifer Lucy Allen and I chatting about Foghorns as well as Steve, Kavus and Lee in conversation. DJ sets from Jennifer, Steve and Kavus sealed the deal on a thoroughly enjoyable day.
September saw our second collaboration of the year with Tate. This time we took the Seafood Bar Tate St. Ives.
Tucked away in a subterranean setting along a quaint Falmouth side street is a culinary gem that thrives on spontaneity. Our Verdant Seafood Bar offers an intimate setting accommodating just over twenty guests. Here, the essence of coastal indulgence comes alive, complemented by an impressive array of Verdant Brewing's beers and an ever-evolving seafood menu. During the day, the Café at Tate St Ives was host to an a la carte mini seafood menu specially curated by The Seafood Bar giving you the chance to sample some of the freshest seafood Cornwall has to offer. Served alongside a selection of our beers, on tap.
Enjoy seated in the café or out on the terrace, whilst taking in the stunning views overlooking Porthmeor Beach, and accompanied by the ambient tunes of the now legendary Verdant playlist.
We also chatted with film director George Morris about his new feature film. To Kill a Orca. Verdant had an amazing idea to adapt their flagship IPA Even Sharks Need Water with a new set of clothes. All proceeds from any can wearing this jacket supported the production of the new feature film being made to highlight the plight of the last two remaining native Orca Whales in the United Kingdom. Something Verdant are hugely proud to support.
We closed the month by following the Leyline to The Cornish Bank to host an evening of Myth, Magick, Music & Merriment with Fenella (Jane Weaver) and Peter Talisman as part of a tour put together by Weird Walk.
In October we published a great article by Becky Whinnerah about The Count Me In Collective. An organisation that aims to change the employment opportunities for adults with learning disabilities and/or neurodiversities who want to work in the brewery and pub trade in Reading and surrounding areas. You can read the full piece here
GLOK were another highlight of the year for me personally and I’m pretty much certain for Adam too!
Adam and I both discovered Andy Bell and his awesome band of pioneering shoegazers RIDE back in the ‘90’s. What an incredible band they are too, then and still to this day. Andy has been nothing if not prolific though with time playing and writing with non other than Oasis as well as Hurricane #1.
Adam renamed the month as GLOKtober and we watched and listened as Andy brilliantly weaved together throbbing dubbed-out acid, levitational psychedelia, Balearic, ambient, techno, Kosmische, shoegaze, art-rock and Compass Point-style post punk, with his virtuoso guitar playing and musicianship to the fore. If that wasn’t enough we also welcomed back Innerstrings who lit up the Taproom once again with his live psychedelic light show.
The cherry on the top for me was that I also got to DJ with Andy. One track each in turn. I was pretty nervous to begin with but I think we managed to hit our stride and pull out some selections that felt collaborative and fitted well together. An enormous amount of fun it was too!
The Jungle Brothers!
After selling out the Bank in a matter of HOURS, the Taproom brought you a second show by these hip-hop giants, this time in Verdant Tap Room the day before their Bank show.
As if they need an introduction, we'll spell it out for you again:
Jungle Brothers is Mike Gee, Afrika Baby Bam, and DJ Sammy B. Straight Out the Jungle, they came together as the Jungle Brothers in the mid-'80s and began their recording career at the dance label Idler. The result of the sessions, Straight Out the Jungle, was released in early 1988. The album's Afrocentric slant gained the Jungle Brothers entry into the Native Tongue Posse, a loose collective formed by hip-hop legend Afrikaa Bambaataa, including Queen Latifah (and, later, De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest).
This week we had the Heavenly Jukebox come to play for us for the first time. They brought the freshest new tunes as well as all the Heavenly Jukebox classics. Danny Mitchell and Daisy Goodwin represented Heavenly on this occasion. Playing only the finest records and tearing up the dance floors of festivals, clubs, basements or wherever since 1990, this is sure to be an all-encompassing lesson in the rich tapestry of music, what else would you expect from the DJ arm of the legendary Heavenly Recordings.
So that brings us right up to date. As I write this we are just a couple of weeks away from DJ Bish playing at our New Years Eve party. Last year was utterly joyous, a really special night.
So that’s 2023! We really can not wait to get started on 2024 in what will be our 10th anniversary as Verdant Brewing Co and our second year bringing all of the culture and events to the world as Brewing Folk.