Beer Guerrilla: Vive la beer révolution
That is right gents, your eyes do not deceive you! After a prolonged hiatus, we are back and raring to wax lyrical about a revolutionary craft beer shop found in the heart of Northampton. With the craze exploding across the UK and new craft beer pubs becoming a familiar sight in Northampton, Wellingborough Road’s Beer Guerrilla has fully embraced the scene and is looking to share everything it has to offer with customers. We caught up with proprietor Matt Boot to discover more about the inspiration, shop and beers.
What is Beer Guerrilla?
Launching three months ago, Beer Guerrilla is an independent craft beer and ale shop selling… you guessed it, craft beer and ale. Creator and beer guru Matt told us his motivations behind the beer paradise.
“I’ve lived in Northampton over the past 30 years and spent some of my pre-teenage years living in pubs; I guess that kind of environment is something I’ve been drawn back to,” said Matt.
“Over the last three to four years, I’ve developed a real love for craft beer and found myself becoming frustrated that I was unable to find a good range of craft beer to buy in the town, especially having seen shops like this around the country. Then it all just came together; I’ve wanted to set up my own thing for a while, I love craft beer and I’m a social person.”
Gents, one important thing we need to point out is that Beer Guerrilla is no simple shop. The family run business aims to bring something quite unique to shoppers, with a particular in focus on the experience.
The guerrilla experience
What makes the experience so special at Beer Guerrilla? Let’s start with our favourite feature, the tasting area. The store has a number of craft beers and ciders on tap and a cool area to relax and enjoy them.
Matt explained the concept: “We have a license that allows people to come in, try some of the beers that are on tap and leisurely look around the shop and see what we have on offer. The tasting area is a good size as well so people can always come in for a couple of drinks with friends.
“Sit, try one or two and decide which ones you want to take home, either from the shelves or in your growler. That’s kind of the philosophy of beer guerrilla.”
This concept that we are affectionally calling ‘Sip and Shop’ is one that resonates with us as lovers of craft beers. The notion of gently sauntering around a store whilst slowly sipping on delicious beer changes a shopping chore into an enjoyable experience. It feels natural and the way gents were always supposed to shop.
Gent tip: Do not try this in your local supermarket. When we tried doing the weekly shop around Sainsbury’s whilst sipping on a beer, we received some funny looks and a request to leave.
The look and feel
Besides the ability to enjoy a beverage whilst pursuing Beer Guerrilla’s substantial range of craft beers and ales, the inside of the store is charismatic, charming and cool. Exposed brick, lots of wood and various thoughtful touches creates a warm space that has elements of industrial chic but with its own, distinct personality.
Matt commented: “We visited similar types of shops and pop-up bars in London, saw the type of style being used and tried to capture that vibe but with our own style. We wanted it to look modern and unique as the craft beer scene is still young and all about being different.”
One of the most eye-catching parts of the shop is the large mural in the tasting area created by Matt’s friend, Phil Harding. Taking his inspiration from a Beavertown can, Phil included Northampton landmarks and jungle made from hops to link to the guerrilla branding. The painting injects a colourful and clever splash of personality into the shop that will grab you attention the moment you walk through the door.
“It is all about creating a relaxed and chilled out environment. We want people to be able to take their time and enjoy the experience. No pressure and no pretentions.”
It would be criminal to write a review about a craft beer shop without mentioning craft beer. We wanted to know how Matt picks the beers that line the shelves:
“The main consideration is that it has to be a quality beer. We have the tap line and casks, with the casks always featuring something local. In the store however, we sell beers from all around.
“I work hard to try and get rare, limited release beers that are hard to find. We have Beavertown for example, who have their core beers like the Gamma Ray; we’ll always stock that because it is a really high-quality beer. However, in the craft beer world, that’s well known and popular. Beavertown does special, small batch beers as well though and it’s these ones I aim to get in.
“It’s all about bringing something new to our customers and Northampton.”
Beer Guerrilla also sell growlers; attractive glass jugs you can use for your beer take-out. With the concept heralding from across the pond, gents bring in their growler, pick a beer on tap they want to take with them and pay anything between £8 to £16 for a fill-up, with the growler itself costing £8. The team use a pressure machine and then seal it when filling it up, ensuring the beer remains fresh for up to six weeks.
Events and collaborations
Not satisfied with just bringing a rare and diverse range of quality beers to the people, Matt and co are also running a number of different events to bring the people who brew the beer and the people who drink the beer together. Brewers come in and explain more about their beers, whilst patrons can sample, taste and learn more about what goes into some of their favourite tipples.
Also, do not be surprised if you see a gorilla sporting a beret appearing on fridges in some of your favourite establishments around the town.
Matt told us: “We have beer guerrilla fridges in the Smoke Pit, the Wheatsheaf in Dallington and the Pickering Phipps. The fridge is something we stock and helps them get access to beers they wouldn’t normally be able to in such small volume. The fridges have our logo on so keep an eye out for them.”
A Beer Guerrilla fridge in every restaurant? A store on every corner? With Beer Guerrilla already doing so much in such a short space of time, we wanted to know what we could expect in the future:
“There are various different things we could do but we are only three months in and still learning and properly getting on our feet. I want to get everything running smoothly first, then consider the future. We are not shutting the door on anything at the moment.
“One thing we are looking to start in the New Year is hosting evenings ourselves. These will be events where we introduce people to the different types of craft beer, the tastes, variations, history and more. Think of it as school, except fun and with beer.”
We can’t think of many sentences that aren’t improved with the addition of ‘with beer’ at the end and gives us something to look forward to in 2017.
For those out there keen on their craft beers, Beer Guerrilla is a must. Pop in, grab a drink, have a browse, have a chat and lose yourself in the beer haven. For those of you not sold on beer, Beer Guerrilla is even more of a must. OK, we know what you are thinking, but stay with us. Matt asserts that if you do not like beer, it is because you haven’t found the right one yet.
“There really is a beer for everyone. We get so many people come in and say ‘I don’t like beer’ and I can find them something they like, whether it is a fruit beer, a Saison or a sour, all of which have completely distinctive tastes that you wouldn’t normally associate with beer.”
For those who are yet to be convinced, we urge you to pop and put the beer maestro to the test.