This week, I was lucky enough to be invited to the opening of a new brewery in Newport, called Tiny Rebel. I feel we (Newport residents) have heard of it, but don't know much about the company, other than the fact they make and sell alcohol in Newport.
On paper, Tiny Rebel is your typical successful, small business story. It started with two brother-in-laws, Brad Cummings and Gazz Williams, who had a passion for brewing and decided to start home-brewing in the garage of Brad's Father., in 2010.
Digital Marketing Executive, Niall Thomas, told me that they used a little 50-litre brew set. He said that “the experimental nature of the company stems back to those days; just trying something new and seeing what happens. Brewing for flavour”.
He went on to explain that “after people started asking for more, they decided to put together a business plan and see if it's feasible. They opened up a small brewery in 2012, located in Maesglas”, which was a fifth of the size of their new one, which is located in Rogerstone.
All you have to do is read more about the company, or simply go to one pubs, to see that this business is far from typical.
It has a very relaxed, casual, hipster atmosphere to it. Everyone at the opening party was asked to wear casual clothes. As you can see by the image below, it was a lot like a family BBQ.
It's not just their brewery and bars that are laid back, but so is there work ethic. The brewery is constantly at high temperatures, and work shifts are 10 hours. That's why employees are have access to on-site showers, changing rooms and a restaurant/bar within the brewery. It was no surprise to me when Niall said staff turnover is low.
Something else that's not so typical about Tiny Rebel is their branding. As well as offering a massive variety of alcoholic drinks, customers can also buy t-shirts, bottle openers, coasters, caps, bottles, glasses, etc. Just too many products to list.
But what about their drinks? Are they any good? Well, I don't drink, so I brought along my co-presenter Elizabeth Winter to see what she makes of their award-winning products:
Clwb Tropicana (Tropical IPA 5.5%)
When first tasting the Tropicana, I didn't know it was an IPA – even after tasting. It was close but there were some differences I hadn't experienced before. The taste was refreshing and not dry at all. Though after finding out it was an IPA, I was surprised because of the taste of passion fruit and sweetness. If you're not a fan of IPA, I would recommend this drink a potential first.
Juicy (Tropical Golden Ale 4.8%)
When described to me, it was described as the 'little brother' of Tropicana, which it was. It didn't taste as fruity but rather stronger than the Tropicana (despite the Tropicana being 5.6% and Juicy being 4.8%). Though I think this may have something to do with being similar drinks, one being an IPA the other being a golden ale. Still enjoyable, refreshing and somewhat fruity.
Frambuzi (Raspberry Sour Framboise 4.3%)
If I had to recommend any drink to those who enjoy sours or cider, it would immediately be this drink. I fell in love with this drink the moment I had it. Incredibly refreshing, the flavour of raspberry with a subtle sours is an amazing blend. Certainly my favourite drink. Doesn't get sickly, not too sweet and very smooth. Actually considering buying a keg I love it so much. Can't wait to have again!
Super Saison (“Saison” 7.4%)
Has a cute reference to Dragon Ball, and reminds me of a few friends who enjoy similar brews such as Blue Moon – who coincidently love Dragon Ball. You can taste the citrus in the ale and isn't unpleasantly overwhelming. With a “power level” of “OVER NINETHOSAAAAAAAAAND!” as put on their website, it certainly wasn't disappointing. As with all Tiny Rebel drinks, it is refreshing, has a very fresh taste to it and the ale is complimented well by the flavour. And as I said at the start with my friends, I have recommended this drink to friends I know enjoy similar brews.
In conclusion, if I had to sum up this brewery in a word, that word would be 'unique'. The branding, marketing, production and even the drink themselves are like no other. This is definitely a business to loo out for in Wales in the future, and I hope it expands into making more products; hopefully some soft drink for people like me, who don't drink alcohol.
If you want to visit the brewery, it's located in Wern Industrial Estate, in Rogerstone, Newport. They also have a bar in the high streets of Newport and Cardiff.