Loka Polly have been making waves in the UK craft beer scene in 2018. They only launched earlier this year and they’re already the highest rated Welsh brewery on Untappd. We managed to get our hands on some of their beers recently and trust us, the hype… is… real.
Loka Polly might just be our favourite new brewery, so we were really excited whenever Head of Sales, Arron Fellows, agreed to chat to us!
You’re a pretty new brewery – in case any of our readers don’t know of you yet, can you introduce Loka Polly?
I certainly can! So we are Loka Polly; brewing out of Mold, North Wales. We are a two man operation with a huge passion for creating the freshest, hop saturated, modern styles of beer we possibly can, constantly improving with every brew.
Where did the name come from?
This is the question we get asked the most, and I love answering it; as it’s such a cool little story to accompany the brewery! So, our brew house is situated in an old stable house where head brewer Sean’s family horse, Polly, used to live. When Polly moved on for greener pastures, Sean’s brother James converted the stable into a graphic design studio for his project, Loka Island. Sean had his eureka moment (which may or may not have occurred in the bath) to amalgamate the two previous uses, and Loka Polly was born!
Have you both worked in the beer industry previously or is this a completely new venture?
Loka Polly actually sprouted from the ashes of Sean’s previous brewery, The Black Brook Beer Co. Despite being successful, Sean almost instantly fell out of love with producing cask beers, and decided to dissolve the brewery to start up again with a complete rebrand as Loka Polly.
I personally had never worked in the beer industry prior to joining the Loka Polly party; although I knew Sean through managing a successful bar and restaurant in our home town of Mold. When I decided that the time was right to move on to a fresh challenge, I received a phone call asking if I’d like to come on board as Sean’s Head of Sales, and I jumped at the bit to join what I could already see was something incredibly special. The rest they say, is history!
You’ve been getting rave reviews – how’s it been getting such positive feedback so early on?
Honestly, we’re still pinching ourselves. Our beers have certainly come a long way since our January launch beers, but we know we can do better. The motto above the brew kit and in the office (corny as it sounds) is “Never Stop Improving”, and we certainly don’t intend on straying away from our goal.
Has it been hard keeping up with demand? We’ve noticed your beers popping up a lot more often recently which is great!
It’s been pretty difficult, there’s no dressing it up. We’re both still learning this game as we’re going along, so we’re guilty of making mistakes – we actually oversold on our April can releases as anticipation and demand was so high, but thanks to some very understanding distributors we were able to fulfil all our orders.
We took the plunge in April (as a direct result of seeing how high demand was) and bought two new fermenting vessels, due to land any day now, which will allow us much more consistency with our brewing schedule and most importantly twice as much beer!
Your beer naming convention seems pretty minimalistic so far – can you tell us a little about the thought process?
Our Modus Operandi is all about two things – transparency and simplicity. We steer away from gimmicky names with our beers (there’s no random name generator in our office!), preferring to let our beer itself do the talking; naming them solely after the ingredients we use.
We’ve toyed with the idea of naming our beers, but I think our brand is so bedded in at this point it would just feel completely alien calling the beers anything else!
We love your can artwork! Who comes up with the designs and how do you decide how to match the art with the beer?
We love designing the artwork for the cans! There’s no real skill to it, we do everything in-house, and just have a keen eye for a great design that fits in with the beer we’ll be producing.
You recently had to recall your collaboration with Alphabet Brew Co – what happened there?
I’ve only just stopped crying myself to sleep over this one; I was absolutely devastated, but it was 100% the correct call. An issue with CO2 regulators freezing up during the canning process at Alphabet meant that the CO2 purge prior to filling wasn’t working correctly.
As a result the beer was spoiling much faster due to oxidation than usual; there was no way of telling which cans were affected and unaffected, so rather than leave it to chance we decided to recall the entire can line. Go out and seek the kegged version though, it’s tasting absolutely banging!
We’ve loved your IPAs and Pale Ales but we’ve not seen many dark beers. Are we going to see a wider range of styles in the future?
One day, for sure! At the moment, we’re focusing all of our energy on getting really good at a couple of styles of beer, rather than spreading our talents too thin and just being okay at loads of styles. We brew the beers we both love to drink, which has seen us dip our toes into the world of saisons – a style both myself and Sean are massive fans of, as well as the hop-saturated IPAs and Pales that dominate our current output.
That’s not to say we haven’t explored the world of dark beers; one of our launch beers was an amazing Aurora Espresso Breakfast Stout which was smoother than a funky soul collaboration between George McCrae and Barry White. We’ve also recently released an awesome Simcoe Stout which harked back to the robust American-style stouts we loved when we first discovered craft beer.
Going forward, we would love to get into barrel-aging some stouts and sours, again which we’re huge fans of. We just need more space to do it all!
What’s in the future for Loka Polly? Any exciting news you can share?
We’ve got some aces up our sleeves, don’t worry – we’ll be bringing a lot more Double IPAs to the party now that our confidence is growing with the style. Small IPAs will be making a more regular appearance too; low ABV but with absolute BAGS of flavour.
We’ll be brewing with the lads at Brew York in July, with August seeing us go for a North vs South Wales face off between ourselves and our 100% bffs Tiny Rebel. We’re super excited to get ourselves to these awesome breweries, so keep an eye on our social media for updates on the festivities as and when they happen.
These new fermenting vessels landing, paired with brewing twice a week every week means we’ll be bringing in an assistant brewer also. Player three will be joining the rollercoaster ride very very shortly!
It got a little bit of traction that tweet, didn’t it? I only intended to announce the online store going live!
From a personal standpoint, I’m disappointed. Being a fan of punk rock, I see a lot of parallels between craft beer and the DIY attitude of punk; something that explicitly doesn’t fall in line with how the big beer companies operate. It also seems like a pretty hypocritical move on Logan’s part to bed in with Heineken after his comments about multicorps at the Beavertown Extravaganza last year, and it’s no surprise that breweries are dropping like flies from this year’s Extravaganza.
The way I see how it’s all developed, Beavertown want to have that “BrewDog Headliner” range in every conceivable nook and cranny across the country (Who wouldn’t? That’s an insane volume of beer to shift) but they’ve gone about it completely the wrong way. Given Heineken’s track record of buying into craft beer (see Lagunitas), it seems like it’s only a matter of time before the lads in suits begin to dictate what goes on at the brewery.
It’s a shame as they were one of the first UK brewers I discovered when I got into craft beer, and I’m sad to see another one bite the dust, so to speak. That said, if they are staying in 100% control of the brewing, I’ll reserve my judgement for my first can of Gamma Ray post-buyout.
One last question… what is a ‘lifestyle beer’ anyway? 🙂
Ha! If this is a reference to THAT post on the UK Craft Beer Forum, then we still don’t know the answer. Look it up yourselves, it’s a pretty spectacular car crash of a thread.
In all honesty though, it was just something we put on the Breakfast Stout cans when we first launched. It didn’t appear on any of the other cans and we thought it would just fall by the wayside as we canned more beers – alas not.
We’ll just go for the silly approach on this – Lifestyle beer is whatever you want it to be! #followyourdreams