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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 left Holler Brewery about a year ago with a bee in his bonnet about creating the UK’s first mixed beer and booch brewery. I was coming to the end of something in software, and we’d been talking for a long while about doing a brewery, but doing it differently. 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?

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.
Steve came up with the name Only With Love. It took me a minute to think it through, but I fell for it pretty much straight away. 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?

Roger
This is Steve’s domain, but it’s 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 left Holler Brewery about a year ago with a bee in his bonnet about creating the UK’s first mixed beer and booch brewery. I was coming to the end of something in software, and we’d been talking for a long while about doing a brewery, but doing it differently. 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?

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.
Steve came up with the name Only With Love. It took me a minute to think it through, but I fell for it pretty much straight away. 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?

Roger
This is Steve’s domain, but it’s 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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