Evidently the trials and tribulations in setting up a brewery are not all based in finances and building a steady network of customers, logistics and luck play their part too. Timing can be everything, the right time and place with the right network and right recipes can be make or break a fledgling outfit.
Dom’s response is somewhat weary but tinged with a hint of an optimistic tone and no shortage of surprise...
“Nope! I still can’t quite believe that we are doing this. It is slightly surreal when you consider that it has been an ongoing project for so long, taking in lots of twists and turns along the way.
It sounds pretty obvious, but we both really love craft beer and the culture surrounding the industry. I have been a keen homebrewer for a few years now and at one point Adrian (the other half of Carnival Brewing’s founding team) tried some of the beers I made, he suggested that I should start making them a bit more widely available. From this point, Carnival Brewing was formed.”
The early days of Carnival also saw Dom’s homebrew touted to bar staff and select guests at Liverpool’s 23 Club, with high praise heaped onto the homebrewing duo and their wares. The follow up to this initial buzz was sadly and heavily delayed (as alluded to above). There was participation in the first Liverpool Beer Week with a pre-launch event at Hard Times and Misery (now known as Dickens and King). This in itself was followed with a trickle of keg and cask beers to local bars such as Pi on Rose Lane and central Liverpool favourite, the Grapes. These were the only clues as to Carnival’s activities before the news broke that they had found and procured a site from which to base their operations.
Ade and Dom first met at the Clearview Charity Carnival in Mossley Hill in 2016 via an introduction from a mutual friend, the grease to the wheels of the relationship was Ade spotting Dom’s Flaming Lips tee shirt; Dom suggests that his attire at the time is probably what made Ade form a positive opinion of him initially.
I was lucky enough to appear on Beernomicon’s Podcast during the Summer of 2019, chatting about the second Liverpool Beer Week. As part of the Podcast, I was joined by Black Lodge’s Rob Tuffnell and both Ade and Dom from Carnival. Dom was very upbeat about the opportunities for beer and brewing in Liverpool and contributed well:
“Originally, our scheme was supposed to take shape in South Liverpool and this had to change for a number of reasons. We then stumbled onto Unit 3 not far from the city centre and decided that it could provide us with the perfect blank canvas for our vision and ideas. The process so far has been excruciatingly slow and has involved some pretty complex lease negotiations, planning issues and dealing with licensing. Add the technical difficulties of the build to the mix and you get quite the cocktail.
The build has been difficult but steady in all consideration and it is certainly the most challenging thing I have done. We have worked with R2 Architects who are based just off Hardman Street in Liverpool and they have helped us create a phased scheme, providing us with a large enough area for our current brewhouse and tank farm with the ability to respond to capacity growth requirements. We also have quite a substantial cold store, a great bar space, new toilet facilities and the foundations are in place for a mezzanine should we push for that.”
In terms of brass tacks, the brewery kit itself will be 16 hectolitres in size (four fermenters and a carbonation tank, with some additional kit coming in the new year), therefore the aim is to be capable of an output of 3,000 litres of beer a week. The brewery has a taproom attached to it, which is expected to evolve over time in keeping with the status of the brewery, the beers and other factors.
The Taproom will be opening soon, with the opening hour being Thurs-Fri 4m to 10pm, then Saturday 12pm to 10pm, Sunday 2pm-8pm. Dom conveyed his excitement further about this space:
“We are going to be community focused, so expect a variety of cool events, pop ups, art shows, live music and food-orientated events. We are planning to host regular nights with local music promoters to bring artists to a wider audience. As you can tell, music is pretty important to us and we’re having it as central feature along with the beer! The part of town that we are based in is not currently known as a place for night-life, so we’re aiming to inject some life, promote a safe and inclusive environment and animate it with good happenings."
“Our tasting room has 12 keg lines and two cask lines, we are aiming to get these flowing as quickly as possible. We’ve got some special releases saved ready for launch, including a robust porter called Transmission which will be on cask. Our Imperial Stout, Moose Stack, which has been quietly maturing in oak barrels with toasted coconut should be ready along with kegs of our session pale ale (All Clouds Are Silver) and some cask Macau (a cream pistachio pale ale).
We’ve yet to decide on what beers will be first to go on our big kit, so you’ll have to watch this space! Trades lists will probably be ready to go out shortly after Christmas in time for New Year deliveries and we’re also buying in a range of used spirit and wine barrels to kick off a barrel-aging programme in earnest.”
What do you think the next five years holds for brewing in Liverpool and specifically with Carnival?
“I’m really excited about the future of Liverpool’s scene actually. It feels like we’re gaining some momentum, with the increase in the number of independent bars, pubs and restaurants in the city, the outlook is positive. Seeing the likes of Bundobust, Honest Burger and Albert’s Schenke to name a few pitch up with a really good beer-orientated offer is great; especially as they want to work with local breweries to stock their beers and integrate with the local scene.
We have big ambitions to thrive in our new site, create great space for people to meet, relax, enjoy great beers and music. There is more to it that just that though, but I’ve got a few ideas and tricks up my sleeve that I’ll keep to myself for a while longer!”
Carnival Brewing and tasting rooms are now open and welcome to accept customers in this unexpected gem of Liverpool’s waterfront.
Many thanks for reading everyone and sorry my output has been a little sparse (a lot sparse) recently... but we do have another article coming soon!