We caught up with rugby player and entrepreneur Greg Bateman to discuss the launch of his own range of beer. We also discuss the future, creating a full range of products and the importance of creating a brand that fully supports individuals to talk about their mental health concerns.
What made you want to launch your own beer range?
It all started as a bit of a hobby, I really enjoyed the process of brewing, and I teamed up with a fantastic brewer to release what is now Legend. Coincidently it was around the time I’d publically shared about my own battles with mental ill-health to encourage other people to seek help. I found myself having the most wonderful conversations with punters surrounding the beer launch, which gave me the thought – what if a beer brand was about encouraging conversation rather than simply talking about how their beer is better than everyone else’s (even though I think ours are!).
Have you always loved beer?
Beer has just been part of my rugby life, I guess, when you play at the local rugby club, the old boys always buy you a beer and diffuse from the game or life. I’d describe myself as a fan of the artisan. I’m also a huge coffee lover with a keen interest in independent artisan coffee roasters.
Beer is just a great part of British culture, and the craft scene is so experimental; there are some fantastic makers out there!
Where can we find The People’s Captain Beer range?
Direct from our website: www.peoplescaptain.co.uk
Do you have a favourite flavour?
Less a flavour, more a style. The NEPAs (New England pale ales) I think are fab. We’ve got one in our range, but generally, I find they have loads of aroma, bags of taste and plenty to talk about!
How did you come up with / create the different beers in the range?
LEGEND – my first beer – I sat with the legends Andrew & Andrea Reed at Charnwood Brewery and discussed what I was looking for in styles and profiles, so we took a few bits from different styles, and it was a hit!
STEREOTYPE – we wanted a lager in our range, but everyone told us lagers all taste the same, and only blokes drink them. So we made a traditional English style lager (unlike Pilsner and European style) with really delicate dosing of Hallertau hops to give it a really crisp, refreshing taste, unlike other lagers. The character is a woman, because we believe that women can enjoy beers too!
ISLANDER – this one started in the changing rooms, where I was so curious about my rugby colleagues who had grow up in the Pacific Islands. Manu Tuilagi, Telusa Veanu, Iferemi Boladu & Jordan Tuafua would share their experiences of growing up – how mangos taste better from next doors garden and Manu even once destroyed my garden by creating an UMU (cooking pigs under rocks and leaves) needless to say there’s a patio there now.
This beer is one of my favourite styles, unfiltered NEPA – so we dry-hopped this (post-fermentation) to keep all the fantastic tropical flavours of the islands in there.
SHORT & STOUT – I was working with a more regional brewer, and the operations director said to me, “Greg, I need a stout for March,” and I immediately thought ‘I don’t like stout’ so the father in law and I got 28 different stouts from around the world and just tried lots of different versions. From the crazy imperials to the more mild milk stouts. I felt that I preferred a milk stout (which uses lactose to keep the sweetness rather than the bitterness of the darkly roasted malt). We also dry-hopped it a bit so you’ll get a sweet, blueberry, caramel flavour.
‘TIS THE SAISON – When I was in Oslo on a solo trip to the Viking ship Museum I found out that one of the worlds best beer sommeliers ran a beer academy there, and he changed the way I looked at beer. He introduced me to saisons and a bit of the history, and I thought, wow – not something we have tonnes of in the UK, let’s explore it.
We love the can designs – how did you meet the designer Nathan Bowen?
I was down in Hackney for some work and walked past one of his huge tags whilst I was thinking up the islander designs, and it grabbed me immediately along with his tagline, “are you inspired?”. Hell yeah, I was! So, I just found him on Instagram, and now he exclusively does all our artwork, and we love his input.
You’ve been vocal about your depression and mental health issues in the past. Do you have any advice for someone who may be reading and struggling with their mental health currently?
I think the key is first being aware there is a problem. There’s been some fantastic work done (but admittedly, there’s a way to go) on ‘raising awareness’, so hopefully, as a society, we’re more receptive and understanding of these issues.
Then, I think where our interests are concerned, we just want people to have a conversation, tell your mates or your family how you’re feeling and if you’re struggling that can be the first step towards finding some help.
Tell us more about your charity? How does the People’s Captain plan to help UK with funds raised from a portion of the beer sales going to the charity
We’re finishing off incorporating The People’s Captain Foundation as its own entity. We wanted to do it this way, so whatever happens on the business side only strengthens and never compromises the contribution. Still, every pound we raise can go directly into the support that’s so desperately needed across the UK right now. We’ll contribute to raise money from our beer sales and ask our fantastic community to get involved along the way. This is a problem for all of us, so it’ll be great to see how we all come together to try and impact making a difference.
Do you have any plans to bring out more beers?
Plenty! In fact, our Beer Club members will have a crucial input into the new beers we bring out in super small batch specials, plus we’ve got alcohol frees and some more banging IPAs to join the core range as our trade offering increases.
Whatever we do, it’ll be driven by our community, and you can bet your bottom dollar we’ll be Brewing Positivity!
What have you learned from launching your own drinks business? Do you have any words of advice for others dreaming of launching their own beer range?
This is probably a bit of a generic answer but decide what you stand for – we’ve just never been prepared to trade on our values. At the core of the business is Brewing Positivity, Community & Discovery. As a result, most of our decisions have been super easy for us to make.
Is it brewing positivity? Then we do it. Does it engage community and conversation? Then we do it, and if we can feed peoples curiosity, then we do it.
Find out more about The People’s Captain and buy the current range of beers direct from www.peoplescaptain.co.uk