Designer Brewing

If you've ever wondered what craft brewing and UX web design have in common (haven't we all?), then read on...

I’ve been an agency designer ever since graduating in Graphic Design from Lincoln University in 2007; creating marketing campaigns for global brands, interfaces for national entertainment providers, printed prospectuses for regional institutions and brand identities for local start-ups, among other things. I found early on that I had a particular aptitude for all things digital, and that remains true to this day. But while design is my career, it’s not my only creative passion. Work colleagues often express surprise when they hear about my adventures in craft brewing, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to share a little bit about it – especially as, in some ways, it’s not a million miles away from my day job.

It all began in 2011, in my kitchen in Hull, with a friend, one gallon at a time. Apart from liking beer, I was attracted to the meticulous nature of the brewing process, and enjoyed continually refining it to improve the quality of what we were producing. My friend and I spent a lot of time learning and experimenting before finally tasting one of our beers and actually relishing it.

Coming after many failed attempts, this was a real breakthrough!

That’s when we decided to move the operation 
into the garden to make bigger batches, eventually custom-building a 100-litre nanobrewery and producing 60 gallons at a time. We did this for three fantastic years, operating under the brand ‘Tenfoot Brewing’.
Most of the beer we produced, we consumed or gave to our friends (always a high point in the process!) – and some local bars also stocked it on occasion. But it was very much a passion project rather than a business concern for us. Sadly, when I moved to London last year, I couldn’t take the brewery with me and had to sell up. It went to a big brewery in Hull called Atom Brewery

From nanobrewery to microsite

Brewing takes a lot of patience. A great deal of trial and error is required to refine the processes you’re using to get the very best quality and flavour, and it’s expensive to get it wrong. In that respect, it’s similar to the design process – particularly when you’re dealing with UX challenges, which require a methodical and meticulous approach.

Because I’ve been involved with many breweries, including my own, I have a particular interest in the drinks industry, and this extends to my design work. So, I was happy to have the opportunity at Article Ten recently to work on the digital design for Finlandia Vodka’s new ‘Spirit of the Midnight Sun’ microsite www.finlandiamidnightsun.com, which is part of a campaign to find international ambassadors for the Finlandia Vodka brand. It’s always great when a project comes along for a subject or industry you have a passion for. It makes the creative process that much more enjoyable, and always results in a great finished product.

I miss brewing and will definitely go back to it when I can.

I’m looking to join a brewing collective in London and would like to find a new brewing partner and some space to do it. Anyone interested in teaming up, feel free to get in touch!