It’s an old cliché that success comes out of nowhere – musicians, sports stars, inventions, beer styles. This notion underplays the years of work and endless failures that lead to that triumph. In 2017 we grew by a frightening 912%, but we’d spent over three years building to that point.
Even more importantly, we were following the hard work of those who had come before us. Pioneers like Brewdog, incredible breweries like the Kernel and, of course, friends like HAND bar.
We didn’t know its founder, Pete Walker, until we started our journey into homebrewing. Perhaps the greatest omission from our blog about our history was the endless nights in HAND Bar, perusing the fridges and bugging the staff about different breweries, styles and recipes. Suddenly, Pete had his two best customers. As he puts it:
“We kind of clicked something was happening because you were coming in and working your way through the fridges; asking the staff 'what’s the hoppy-est thing you’ve got?'; contemplating the beers you had."
Falmouth is incredibly lucky to have a bar like HAND. Cornwall is built on cask ale, and has some of the best in the UK, but variation is key to a healthy brewing scene and HAND focuses on bringing the best of the modern craft movement down to the far reaches of our county and has been doing so since 2010.
“When I started I used to drive around to breweries in a beaten-up old estate, often unannounced, and just kinda go “Eeeeey, can I have some beer?” says Pete. “I remember Magic Rock were one of the main ones because they were very near to my mum, so I used to visit her and pick up some Magic Rock casks. So we were pushing modern beer really early on.”
It was invaluable for us as we worked out the kind of breweries we wanted to be, and we spent countless happy evenings deconstructing imported American IPAs and the early works of Magic Rock, Thornbridge and more. But HAND had a much bigger part to play in our story than a place for research. In fact, next to Small Bar in Bristol they were one of our first customers, and even hosted our first press night. As we tour the country doing them to raise funds for our new 15,000hl brewery it brings us back to that proud, crowded night in a tiny bar in our home town.
“The first beer I remember was Lightbulb when we did a big local press event – you were all stood behind the bar in their green T-shirts,” says Pete. “It was those early beers that astounded people because they were so on point. Other local breweries had been trying to come up with beers that competed in that market and totally missed the mark. Verdant weren’t rebranding a cask beer, they were aiming for the pinnacle.”
HAND has come to have the widest range of Verdant beers in the country. If you’re ever visiting Falmouth at the weekend, or have found out we don’t have much stock at our on-site bottleshop, it’s the best place to head. They have lots of beers we have sold out of, all still fresh as the day is long and kept in fridges from the moment we deliver them.
Pete has become a source of support for us and the brewery. In fact, he often tours with us to festivals around the world, where we rely on his skills as a barman and reliability as a friend. If you’ve ever been to our stand at a festival and been poured a beer by a tall, strapping lad with a shaved head, then you’ve met Pete. He’s probably been more enthusiastic about the beers than even us, he’s grinned through the odd hangover when we have hidden in a corner.
Verdant wouldn’t be what it is today without people like Pete, our industry is built on these amazing people and brave business owners. So while we urge you to come down and see us at our new brewery when it opens, we also insist you go to HAND too – and drink your way through the fridges like we did, and still sometimes do.