Friday, 20th January, sees North Wales craft brewer Polly’s Brew Co celebrate its fifth anniversary with the nationwide launch of a commemorative brew. Beer Today caught up with head of sales Arron Fellows (pictured below) for the story behind the brews.

Arron Polly's

Beer Today: Polly’s is celebrating its fifth anniversary. Congratulations! How did the idea for the brewery come about?

Arron Fellows: Thank you, happy flippin’ birthday to us! Feels like a lot longer than five years sometimes, but I wouldn’t change it for a thing. The concept for the brewery came from our MD and founder Sean Wheldon. He previously had a cask-led brewery, but the beers he was discovering in cities that he wanted to brew just wouldn’t translate properly to our very traditional, very cask-centric local market. He made the very bold call to dissolve this brewery and start with a completely clean slate, with new branding, a new identity, and a strong push on keg and can only, for maximum freshness.

BT: Was it always the plan to specialise in hop-forward, modern-style beers?

AF: Absolutely, yes. Our stance when we first started was that we’d prefer to excel in a small number of styles than to just tread water and be okay at a wider spread. This is why we primarily deal in hop-forward beers, but the addition of our head brewer Lally in 2019 allowed us to expand into sour beers, and further additions to the brew team have given us a little more of a broader scope as we progress as a brewery.

BT: Any thoughts of having a crack at British-style cask ale?

AF: We absolutely love a pint of well-kept cask here at the brewery — it’s such a wonderfully unique arm to our drinking culture here in the UK. The idea of producing a seasonal line of cask beers does crop up from time to time, but we just don’t have the space to accommodate a fleet of firkins on top of everything else we already produce, unfortunately. Maybe one day!

BT: How often do you brew? What’s a typical week like at the brewery?

AF: We’re probably at saturation point here at the brewery now, in terms of brew length. We have the capability to brew up to eight times a week at full capacity, across 15 fermenting vessels and three separate brite tanks, but due to the usual and expected January slump, we’re operating at about 60% of capacity at the moment. Hopefully it won’t be too long before we’re firing on all cylinders again!

BT: What have been the biggest challenges over the five years?

AF: It would be remiss of me to not mention Covid-19 and the effect it had on us as a business. Those first few weeks where we didn’t know what was going on, what the future of our industry would look like, and when we would be able to brew on a regular basis was pretty frightening. Having to indefinitely stand our brewers down and put everyone bar myself and Sean on furlough was a heartbreaking decision to make, but we supported our staff throughout, and I certainly feel as though our bond with our team is stronger than ever. Outside of Covid, receiving a cease and desist in March 2019 was a pretty hard learning curve and a scary situation that we found ourselves in; having a year’s worth of reputation behind us was a godsend, and without this probably would have been a death knell for our then-fledgling brewery.

malt Polly's

BT: Tell us about the fifth anniversary beer…

AF: They do say good things come in threes, and we’re rounding off our trilogy of birthday beers with a return to what we do best: hop forward, and pushing the limits of our brew kit to the absolute max. After setting people’s phasers to hype with our previous quad IPA efforts, we wanted to nail absolutely every aspect of this style for our fifth birthday. Batting at an insane 28g/l worth of dry-hop charge, we’ve front-loaded this beer with as much Mosaic and Idaho 7 as our kit will allow us, the flavour profile being all about candied sweetness — think pineapple cubes, bubblegum, sticky marmalade, and mango to the max.

BT: Where’s can we find Polly’s beers?

AF: We’re stocked in pretty much every good bottleshop and bar across the four corners of the UK, along with 26 wonderful countries currently importing our beers on a regular basis, but you’ll always find the freshest beer direct from the source on our webstore.

BT: Where do you hope to see Polly’s in five years’ time?

AF: I personally would like to see Polly’s making broad steps toward being the best brewery in the UK. We’ve always set ourselves a high bar, and whilst we’ll always be excellent at pale and hoppy, I’d like us to bring that expertise across the board to the point where we can confidently tackle any style and nail it every time.

And finally: The Beer Today Quickfire Three

BT: Your favourite of your own beers?

AF: Tough call! I’ve always loved Spur, one of our original Augment beers, but I’m a huge West Coast buff, so I can’t steer too far away from the highest bar we set on our Westies — The Patina Effect, which we released about a year ago.

BT: Your favourite beer made by another brewer?

AF: It’s pretty hard to look beyond the straight up crisp simplicity of The Kernel’s Table Beer. How they pack that much flavour into such a low ABV beer I’ll never know.

BT: Your favourite venue for a beer?

AF: I actually have a couple! My nearest and dearest would be Cellar Bar, or That Beer Place, in my hometown of Chester, but further afield I love the City Arms and Crown and Kettle in Manchester, and it’s been too long since I last visited Red Hand in London.

Anniversary beer: launch venues

  • Crown and Kettle, Manchester
  • Dead Crafty Beer Co, Liverpool
  • Pop & Hops, Cardiff
  • The Cellar, Chester
  • Mold Alehouse, Mold
  • A Hoppy Place, Maidenhead
  • The Hopwater Cellar, Newcastle-under-Lyme
  • Whitelocks Alehouse, Leeds
  • Heist Brew Co, Sheffield
  • The Hope, London
  • Bow Legged Beagle, Wirral
  • The Hop Vault, Stourbridge
  • Junkyard, Nottingham
  • Plasterers Arms, Norwich
  • Thirsty, Cambridge