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What it takes to build an iconic craft beer business

  • Episode 6 - 01hr 12mins
  • July 6, 2017

Andy Thorburn heads to The Rake with owners Mike Hill and Richard Dinwoodie, to discuss the story of building Utobeer, how global craft beer is evolving and big beer acquisitions.

On this week’s episode, Andy Thorburn visits what is arguably the most iconic craft beer bar in the country, to chat to two people that fuelled craft beer fans right from the start, by bringing in the best beers from around the world before anyone else could get them.

Mike Hill and Richard Dinwoodie have fought for the freedom of great beer right from when they became the first beer merchants at the world renowned Borough Market, to giving an old Greasy spoon the best beer selection in the country, brewing their own beer at Tap East and enabling better packaging with Them that can. Mike and Rich are stalwarts of the craft beer community, and bring that sense of family to everything they touch, which was recently displayed when they welcomed the Borough Market traders to the Rake on the eve of its reopening after the terrible attacks on June 3rd.

The character and personality of these legends of London’s beer scene could not be contained by a studio, so instead I set up in the corner of The Rake during a regular lunchtime and discussed the history of Utobeer, how global craft beer is evolving and the continuous spate of big beer buyouts.

Key insights

  • Employ, nurture and trust in your team to do the job you ask of them, and they will return results better than you expected

  • Great marketing is vital to growing a craft brewery, creating a strong brand and deliver on that consistently.

  • As a beer community, including pubs and consumers, we need to look after cask. We’ve got an unique product and it’s a great product, but we need to look after it.

Show notes

  • “And then in 2006 I happened to be walking across the market. This was a very old greasy spoon Cafe which I knew was closing. And I sort of thought well why don't we think about putting a bar in there.” [00:07:12]

  • We were actually told by at least one individual or one couple of people actually that the concept of doing a beer bar in London was completely insane and we would be closed within six months. So in August 2016 we celebrated 10 years of the rake. [00:09:23]

  • I don't think I've ever been in a pub and somebody has gone to order a pint of fosters and gone really? you know you can get four cans for a fiver in Tesco. [00:45:00]

  • Yeah I'm sorry I've had American cask in America and with the exception of one or two breweries in the States one of which is run by a Brit. They're not very good. And so we have got a unique product and we need to make sure we look after it. [00:49:03]

  • It costs as much to produce a pint of cask beer as it does to produce a pint of keg beer. It's always been seen as the cheaper version. [00:51:07]

  • We don't get a discount on our business rates because we're selling cask. [00:51:51]

  • I think there's a good crowd of people involved in the craft beer scene. [00:57:01]

  • Nirvana Brewery [01:09:39]

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Mike Hill and Richard Dinwoodie

Mike Hill and Richard Dinwoodie

Mike and Rich have are stalwarts of London's craft beer community, having been the first beer merchants of the modern Borough Market, and converting an old greasy spoon into what is arguably the best beer bar in the capital. They've taken their love of beer beyond just Utobeer and have interests in Them That Can, and have opened their own brewpub at Tap East, Stratford.


About the Show

Stories, insights and lessons from the incredible people behind the UK's craft beer industry. Andy Thorburn hosts a series of deep-dive interviews with various guests from the craft beer community. New episodes fortnightly.

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