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Only With Love Interview: Fun, Foam and Fist-bumps

When Steve Keegan set up Holler Brewery on a Brighton backstreet he brought a sense of playfulness and fun to the brewery/tap-room.

This approach is all the more evident at his new brewery venture, Only With Love, launched with Roger Warner right at the start of the first pandemic lockdown in 2020.

So we’ve interviewed Roger and Steve to find out more about this uber-positive brewery, why they’re so head-over-heels about beer, and how they see their brand fitting into the market.

Tell us about the origins of Only With Love, and how the two of you come to be working together.

Roger
Steve and I met on a football pitch. We both played a lot as kids, and nowadays we clog about for Lewes FC vets team (Steve more clogging than me, I’m still … errrr … awesome.) We’re also both volunteer Directors on the Board at Lewes FC – the first club in the world to pay their men’s and women’s team the same.
Aside from our love of football we’re both very into community projects – part of how we run the brewery is helping local organisations and groups, and putting some good back into the people and places that make us. You’ll see a lot more of that from us.

 

Steve
When I left Holler and focused more on Lewes FC and helping other breweries out, Roger and I got talking and he was at a place where he wanted to move his skills away from the internet and he had a love for beer and people. We clicked with our ethics and on how we wanted the business to be set up – we have both had businesses before and worked with many people, so learning from that past and creating a company like Only With Love with all of our positive vibes was what we sat and chatted about.

I wanted to bring Kombucha and gut health stuff to the party and Roger was well on board with that.. Also we have a servicing side where we help other breweries out and contract brew and can for them.. so all in all helping our industry as well as helping ourselves.

 

Roger
So, thanks to the help of a lot of friends, family and partners who backed us, we did it. We secured the last of our funding the day Boris shut the pubs – 23rd March I think. Well it’s as good a time as any! (laughter)

 

The name isn’t trying to be subtle with it’s uber-positive vibes. What is the sentiment behind such a bold brand name?

Steve
Being in the middle of the pandemic it felt to me like the main issue with the way it was being dealt by government and media was to raise fear and try and get people to follow their guidelines by scaring people. When focusing our drinks on good times and gut health – which feeds into mental health, it feel’s crazy to me that we should be made to be scared – as this raises cortisol in our bodies and impacts our immune system…

sooo…..  I was just about getting my 3 year old son to sleep one night, and was thinking of something I read about managing stress. It was a simple line – and it has got to be buddhist.. – it says something along the lines of “fear can not live where love is present”, and it is true you can’t hold two contradictory feeling at the same time.

And then I pitched it to Roger, and he didn’t call me crazy! so we ended up with our governing guidelines as the name of our business. We only want to work with lovely people, and do the things that bring us joy, when deciding on if we should do something, the question is – is this gonna be fun?

 

Roger
When we first said ‘let’s go!’ with the brewery,  we made a commitment to creating drinks that are accessible, gluggable and good for you (in moderation)… and made for everyday fun. We both cherish the little moments that make life so good – silly jokes, funny mishaps, a fist bump, a hug, a good tune, a kick of a ball… that kind of thing. These kind of moments are full of joy and made for sharing… and we really, really care about them.

Some of our friends thought we were nuts. How is that a name for a beer?! What would I say when ordering one at the bar?! We didn’t mind so much… because our drinks are not just about the drinks, not just about beer, and they are adamantly not just for blokes.
So the name and the brand are all about the good times – and those good times are all about love… drinks are things that work brilliantly in company. Good times, good company, good drinks, good memories. This is the kind of love that we’re on about.
I love it when we’re lined up on shelves with other great beers. We represent something different. And people are into it – we’re shipping well!

 

What does brewing with love mean?

Steve
So brewing with love means to push away the ego and do something we are proud of, not something that just fits a trend, or that is purley to make money. When thinking about what we want to achieve with our new brewery and the people in which we want to spend time with, it was clear to me the only way to do this was with love.

 

Roger
Yeah, it’s definitely broader than just brewing. It means making things naturally and faithfully. For example, with our kombucha we’re trying to add to the long, long story of the drink… we’re not trying to hijack it, ride a trend or try and make it speak to something other than what it is. It’s a great, healthy glug – and an alternative to a Diet Coke break. We just want to try and make it a fun, everyday drink that’s good for you.

It’s the same with the beers, Steve and I both LOVE classic US beers: the Anchors, the Sierra Nevadas, Pliny the Elder, Racer 5, etc. We want to build on those and expand them, make them even more accessible… because they are just so, so good. Glug-able, session-able, easy on the pocket, more-ish. That’s our beer vibe. I hope anyone who drinks our beers would agree – we’re definitely not weird. We do beers for Friday night treats, Wednesday night cheats, Netflix, watching the game… and when we finally get there, backyard hangouts, BBQs and great sessions at the pub.

 

Where do you do your brewing?

Roger
We’re just outside Lewes, near Uckfield, in a converted cow barn. The place was a shell last year – the cows had left a while ago. We built it from scratch during lockdown #1 and #2. It’s a nice big space – we have 14k litres of capacity, and plenty of room for growth… we’re already eyeing up the barn opposite us.

 

Would you say OWL have a signature beer yet, one that you think best shows off what the the brewery is all about?

Steve
I’d say no, actually.  Rather than some breweries who just brew different versions of hazy beers, we have an urge to do much more varied ranges – but all of them with a focus on flavour and drinkability.

The last three beers I’ve brewed have all been favourites of mine… our Dance Every Day pale ale, full of citra hops; WUNDERBAR! our classic German pilsner; and The Get Down Brown, our modern American brown.  Easy-drinking, banging beers… that’s what I say!

 

For anyone who isn’t up to date with new-age alternative soft drinks, what is kombucha?

Steve
I’ve been brewing kombucha longer than I’ve been making beer (ten years or so). To liken it to a beer, it would be a Berliner Weisse.  It has a tang of sourness to it, but when coupled with fruits and herbs the tang comes across as sweetness, so it can be incredibly low in sugar and still pack a punch.  It is plenty good for you too – all those good bacteria and acids that promote great gut health, which we all know now are super important.

We make a sweet tea, and get our culture working on it – it’s the same culture I started with over ten years ago, and my partner Bethany got that from an organic farm in France where she worked… so it could easily be much much older than that. The culture – a SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) – eats the sugar and turns it into alcohol, but then the bacteria get to work on the alcohol and turn it into acid.  We blend a mix of up to four different kombuchas to get our end product, and after our work the drink ends up with about 0.2% alcohol, about the same as half a ripe banana.

We make flavours with it, just like a classic Berliner Weisse. Lemon Lifebuoy, our lemonade, is a big hit, but Raspberry Rouser – raspberry and lime – is our newest and best-selling Booch.

 

You’re influenced by US beer… what’s your favourite US brewery, and favourite US beer?

Steve
I spent a while in the US a few years back and got stuck into as many Russian River beers that I could find. But the big one that made me fall in love with craft beer is Racer 5 by Bear Republic… it definitely has an influence on our Let’s Go IPA.

 

Roger
I LOVE ANCHOR! ANYTHING ANCHOR! Oh, and Sierra Nevada, of course.

 

What’s next on the horizon for OWL?

Steve
We are just about to launch our Juicy Pale, ‘Twice as Nice’. It’s heavily influenced by Hall and Oats.  We are sticking a lot of hops in, as well as mango and apricot. It’ll be available in cask too… a lot of breweries are moving away from cask, but I’ve always been an ambassador of great cask beer. Next week with the pubs opening you’ll find our cask out there too at places like The Evening Star Brighton.
Oh and I’m well into research mode on our rhubarb and custard kombucha.

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Only With Love Interview: Fun, Foam and Fist-bumps

When Steve Keegan set up Holler Brewery on a Brighton backstreet he brought a sense of playfulness and fun to the brewery/tap-room.

This approach is all the more evident at his new brewery venture, Only With Love, launched with Roger Warner right at the start of the first pandemic lockdown in 2020.

BBB interviews Roger and Steve to find out more about this uber-positive brewery, why they’re so head-over-heels about beer, and how they see their brand fitting into the market.

Tell us about the origins of Only With Love, and how the two of you come to be working together.

Roger
Steve and I met on a football pitch. We both played a lot as kids, and nowadays we clog about for Lewes FC vets team (Steve more clogging than me, I’m still … errrr … awesome.) We’re also both volunteer Directors on the Board at Lewes FC – the first club in the world to pay their men’s and women’s team the same.
Aside from our love of football we’re both very into community projects – part of how we run the brewery is helping local organisations and groups, and putting some good back into the people and places that make us. You’ll see a lot more of that from us.

 

Steve
When I left Holler and focused more on Lewes FC and helping other breweries out, Roger and I got talking and he was at a place where he wanted to move his skills away from the internet and he had a love for beer and people. We clicked with our ethics and on how we wanted the business to be set up – we have both had businesses before and worked with many people, so learning from that past and creating a company like Only With Love with all of our positive vibes was what we sat and chatted about.

I wanted to bring Kombucha and gut health stuff to the party and Roger was well on board with that.. Also we have a servicing side where we help other breweries out and contract brew and can for them.. so all in all helping our industry as well as helping ourselves.

 

Roger
So, thanks to the help of a lot of friends, family and partners who backed us, we did it. We secured the last of our funding the day Boris shut the pubs – 23rd March I think. Well it’s as good a time as any! (laughter)

 

The name isn’t trying to be subtle with it’s uber-positive vibes. What is the sentiment behind such a bold brand name?

Steve
Being in the middle of the pandemic it felt to me like the main issue with the way it was being dealt with by government and media was to raise fear and try and get people to follow their guidelines by scaring people. When focusing our drinks on good times and gut health – which feeds into mental health, it feel’s crazy to me that we should be made to be scared – as this raises cortisol in our bodies and impacts our immune system…

sooo…..  I was just about getting my 3 year old son to sleep one night, and was thinking of something I read about managing stress. It was a simple line – and it has got to be buddhist.. – it says something along the lines of “fear can not live where love is present”, and it is true you can’t hold two contradictory feeling at the same time.

And then I pitched it to Roger, and he didn’t call me crazy! so we ended up with our governing guidelines as the name of our business. We only want to work with lovely people, and do the things that bring us joy, when deciding on if we should do something, the question is – is this gonna be fun?

 

Roger
When we first said ‘let’s go!’ with the brewery,  we made a commitment to creating drinks that are accessible, gluggable and good for you (in moderation)… and made for everyday fun. We both cherish the little moments that make life so good – silly jokes, funny mishaps, a fist bump, a hug, a good tune, a kick of a ball… that kind of thing. These kind of moments are full of joy and made for sharing… and we really, really care about them.

Some of our friends thought we were nuts. How is that a name for a beer?! What would I say when ordering one at the bar?! We didn’t mind so much… because our drinks are not just about the drinks, not just about beer, and they are adamantly not just for blokes.
So the name and the brand are all about the good times – and those good times are all about love… drinks are things that work brilliantly in company. Good times, good company, good drinks, good memories. This is the kind of love that we’re on about.
I love it when we’re lined up on shelves with other great beers. We represent something different. And people are into it – we’re shipping well!

 

What does brewing with love mean?

Steve
So brewing with love means to push away the ego and do something we are proud of, not something that just fits a trend, or that is purley to make money. When thinking about what we want to achieve with our new brewery and the people in which we want to spend time with, it was clear to me the only way to do this was with love.

 

Roger
Yeah, it’s definitely broader than just brewing. It means making things naturally and faithfully. For example, with our kombucha we’re trying to add to the long, long story of the drink… we’re not trying to hijack it, ride a trend or try and make it speak to something other than what it is. It’s a great, healthy glug – and an alternative to a Diet Coke break. We just want to try and make it a fun, everyday drink that’s good for you.

It’s the same with the beers, Steve and I both LOVE classic US beers: the Anchors, the Sierra Nevadas, Pliny the Elder, Racer 5, etc. We want to build on those and expand them, make them even more accessible… because they are just so, so good. Glug-able, session-able, easy on the pocket, more-ish. That’s our beer vibe. I hope anyone who drinks our beers would agree – we’re definitely not weird. We do beers for Friday night treats, Wednesday night cheats, Netflix, watching the game… and when we finally get there, backyard hangouts, BBQs and great sessions at the pub.

 

Where do you do your brewing?

Roger
We’re just outside Lewes, near Uckfield, in a converted cow barn. The place was a shell last year – the cows had left a while ago. We built it from scratch during lockdown #1 and #2. It’s a nice big space – we have 14k litres of capacity, and plenty of room for growth… we’re already eyeing up the barn opposite us.

 

Would you say OWL have a signature beer yet, one that you think best shows off what the the brewery is all about?

Steve
I’d say no, actually.  Rather than some breweries who just brew different versions of hazy beers, we have an urge to do much more varied ranges – but all of them with a focus on flavour and drinkability.

The last three beers I’ve brewed have all been favourites of mine… our Dance Every Day pale ale, full of citra hops; WUNDERBAR! our classic German pilsner; and The Get Down Brown, our modern American brown.  Easy-drinking, banging beers… that’s what I say!

 

For anyone who isn’t up to date with new-age alternative soft drinks, what is kombucha?

Steve
I’ve been brewing kombucha longer than I’ve been making beer (ten years or so). To liken it to a beer, it would be a Berliner Weisse.  It has a tang of sourness to it, but when coupled with fruits and herbs the tang comes across as sweetness, so it can be incredibly low in sugar and still pack a punch.  It is plenty good for you too – all those good bacteria and acids that promote great gut health, which we all know now are super important.

We make a sweet tea, and get our culture working on it – it’s the same culture I started with over ten years ago, and my partner Bethany got that from an organic farm in France where she worked… so it could easily be much much older than that. The culture – a SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) – eats the sugar and turns it into alcohol, but then the bacteria get to work on the alcohol and turn it into acid.  We blend a mix of up to four different kombuchas to get our end product, and after our work the drink ends up with about 0.2% alcohol, about the same as half a ripe banana.

We make flavours with it, just like a classic Berliner Weisse. Lemon Lifebuoy, our lemonade, is a big hit, but Raspberry Rouser – raspberry and lime – is our newest and best-selling Booch.

 

You’re influenced by US beer… what’s your favourite US brewery, and favourite US beer?

Steve
I spent a while in the US a few years back and got stuck into as many Russian River beers that I could find. But the big one that made me fall in love with craft beer is Racer 5 by Bear Republic… it definitely has an influence on our Let’s Go IPA.

 

Roger
I LOVE ANCHOR! ANYTHING ANCHOR! Oh, and Sierra Nevada, of course.

 

What’s next on the horizon for OWL?

Steve
We are just about to launch our Juicy Pale, ‘Twice as Nice’. It’s heavily influenced by Hall and Oats.  We are sticking a lot of hops in, as well as mango and apricot. It’ll be available in cask too… a lot of breweries are moving away from cask, but I’ve always been an ambassador of great cask beer. Next week with the pubs opening you’ll find our cask out there too at places like The Evening Star Brighton.
Oh and I’m well into research mode on our rhubarb and custard kombucha.

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