At The Yorkshire Press, we love a start-up success story and it goes without saying that we are quite partial to a drink too! A couple of weeks ago, we were introduced to some fantastic alcoholic ginger beers, created by Wakefield-based DMC Brewery. Eager to learn more about the inspiration and the team behind these sensationally delicious drinks, we had a few questions for Gez (Operations), Ele (Head Brewer) and Tom (Marketing).
Read on to discover the story behind DMC Brewery, learn more about the drinks we will definitely be drinking this summer and find out what lies ahead for this exciting Yorkshire business…
The DMC story began back in 2018. How did the idea for the business come about?
G: So it basically started when the first lockdown came into effect, I was working as a head chef in Leeds and found myself on furlough with a lot of spare time on my hands. Ele had been home brewing ginger beer since before Christmas as she had become tired of hearing me complain about the lack of decent alcoholic ginger beer on the market and suddenly it just seemed to make sense and the idea was born.
E: Feedback from people who tried what we were making! It’s amazing how many people love ginger beer but there just isn’t any variety on the market. When people heard about what we were making to enjoy at home and then sampling when they came round, they’d get really excited and want to take it home
T: I saw what Gez & Ele were doing via Facebook. I met Gez while he was in a band and I was a music journo. While I knew the product was going to be ace, I thought they might need a little help in the marketing and digital bits, so I essentially made a nuisance of myself until I became a part of the company.
The COVID pandemic brought many challenges for business owners. Being a start-up during this period must have been daunting, to say the least. What obstacles were you faced with and how did you overcome them?
G: It was daunting but equally exciting !! The fact that we weren’t brewing normal craft beers gave us appeal but like with any new product, trying to get people to give it a chance was another thing.
E: I found it really challenging, more so than Gez, it was his confidence that pulled us through the early challenges we faced. Having strong connections in the hospitality industry was really key in helping us once lockdown ended and we started to look for places to stock us, and meet awesome people with skill sets we lacked to take us to the next level in terms of social media and label designs
T: Lockdown gave us time to put together a brand, a digital footprint, and some killer products – what it did not do was give us many outlets! Selling directly to consumers was the obvious solution!
The history of ginger beer is quite fascinating and I’m sure many of our readers will be delighted to learn that it was first created in Yorkshire during the 18th century. The original ginger beer was a simple mix of water, sugar and lemon juice but you have added a few creative twists with some of your products. Could you tell us a little more about the flavours you use and the reasons for choosing them?
G: Everyone thinks because I’m a chef that I come up with the flavour pairings but it’s actually Ele who is the mastermind behind it. She’s always on the hunt for something different to try out. I offer my opinion here and there when it comes to tweaking things or when the feasibility of product cost needs to be considered. It still blows my mind with the pairings she continues to develop.
E: I could go on for hours about this! The first thing is always to make something we would want to drink, and what we want is heavily influenced by the season. In the Summer; fresh and light are the big vibes I have, and I love peaches and lavender, so…. or lemongrass and lime leaves to make something light, fresh and aromatic. When it gets cooler, having a richer, more spiced drink is what appeals most to me personally, so cinnamon, star anise and orange, or a chai spice pear just hits the spot. I think the beauty is that ginger goes so well with so many other flavours, and it’s incredibly versatile: it’s warm and aromatic, but also light and refreshing, so it’s perfect all year round! And because not many other breweries do what we do, we kinda have carte blanche and get to try and experiment; there are no rules, so we get to write our own story!
T: I leave the flavours to Gez & Ele. I trust them…and if you’ve ever had their cooking, you’ll know why!
All of your products are gluten-free and vegan-friendly. How important was it to you during the creation of your products that they should be so?
E: We want our drinks to be accessible to as many people as possible; so using gluten-free ingredients is always our go-to, and ginger beer naturally works best with gluten-free grains, so it was kinda meant to be. The same goes with the vegan aspect; again, our product doesn’t need to be cleared etc, so we don’t have to consider using products that would stop our vegan customers from buying from us. The only thing we use that isn’t vegan friendly is honey, which we do source ethically and sustainably,
T: It’s not easy to find beers that are gluten-free, vegan, and taste as good as ours! We hope it gives a wider choice to people who might not have much!
We’ve tried your ginger beers and we love them! Being particularly fond of Ales From The Crypt, we’d love to know more about it! Brewed in Leeds, this product was a collaborative effort between DMC and two other businesses. What’s the story behind this product?
T: Haha! It’s nuts! We were contacted through our Instagram by Dean (Of The Dead) a maker of ‘Horror Hot Sauces’ – he was looking to make a range of spicy beers with a horror aesthetic, and was looking for breweries who could work with him on something as crazy as possible. Lucky for him, we are that brewery. Through a series of calls, chats, meetings and a very fun brew day, we came up with the GINGER AND SLICE. Jason Miller is a killer comic book artist, who did the very eye-catching can artwork. The most difficult thing in the whole process was deciding on what kind of monster best represented the brewery for the art!
G: Dean is just such a dude, I love him !! We just clicked from the word go and the entire collaboration was very easy and fluid. We’d already had a super extreme fiery ginger beer in experimental stages anyhow so when Dean reached out to us it just seemed like it was meant to be.
Which would you say is your favourite product from the DMC range and why?
G: It is a tough one to answer, I go through phases, Chaac is my current love but as we head through the summer I’ll be all over the Henwen (elderflower & rhubarb) and the Cyser !!
E: It’s hot and sunny today, so my instant thought is Cyser or Aradia! But once Peaches and Dreams comes out, I’ll be all over that! And when it gets colder, I’ll be enjoying our seasonal The Baron… I’m not the best at choosing faves
T: ARADIA! It’s too easy to drink! Especially in the summer. I do really like the OLD HORN TOOTH – a beer we made with a doom metal band – it’s hard to represent a particular musical style in a drink, but it genuinely tastes like heavy metal. (The genre, not actual metal!)
What’s the best way to drink ginger beer? Are there any mind-blowing food pairings you’d recommend or is it best enjoyed alone in the sunshine?
G: Yes !! absolutely !! Aradia is great with Thai food, Valhalla or Chaac with BBQ, We are currently arranging a Caribbean food pairing evening with Canned Heat, a beer shop in Leeds that we supply.
E: For me, it depends on the occasion. If I’m just chilling in the garden, then a cold can is the way forward, but if I’m feeling sophisticated/wanna impress guests, I love to mix up a few cocktails! Ginger Beer is used in so many cocktails, and ours work great to add extra flavour and flair
T: Hot day, cold glass. I’m a simple man!
Your products are available to purchase via your online shop but they’re also stocked by a number of popular bars and restaurants in Leeds. Where do our readers need to go to sample the fantastic flavours from DMC Brewery?
T: Best to check our stockist list – https://dmcbrewery.com/stockists-2/ – as we are always updating with new stockists!
You’ve already done remarkably well as a business and must be incredibly proud of your products and what you have achieved so far. What are your hopes for the future and what can we expect from DMC going forward?
E: Thanks very much! We love what we do, and it’s allowed us to meet so many awesome people and learn tons! Moving forward, I’d like to see DMC in more bars and shops all over the UK and I wanna move into the cocktail scene! I’d love to see cocktails bars using DMC Ginger Beers in their drinks!
T: Yeah, more bars! I’d love to see a surge in ginger beer popularity, like what is happening in Australia and NZ right now. I love our beers, but I love ginger beer as well, and would love to taste more! We are also partnering with gig promoters to support the heavy metal scene which we all grew up in, and would love to get involved in gaming as well! Cyser and Braggot are historically accurate drinks for a D&D campaign!
G: World domination is the goal, ginger beer in every town up and down the country, European distribution. Canada, Australia and eventually stateside. No pressure, haha !!
Finally, one we love to ask everyone…If you had just one day to spend in Yorkshire, how would you spend it and where would you go?
E: I’d pack the kids up and head over to Falling Foss. We’d spend the morning time exploring, climbing and generally just getting mucky and playing in nature, have lunch at the tea room ( by lunch, I mean I’d be having a cream tea!) and then drive over to Whitby, where we’d play on the beach, collect seashells, build a sandcastle and walk up the Abbey steps. Then, fish and chips on the pier (Gez can be on seagull watch!) ice cream, arcades and then home with a sleepy family in the back!
T: Jorvik Viking Centre, lunch and axe throwing in Odins Plate, train down to Leeds to catch a band in BOOM.