One of the newest and most exciting breweries to appear for some time, SALT Beer Factory are quickly building a following. Rob chats to Business Development Manager Nadir Zairi about the beer brand everyone is talking about…
When and how did SALT come into existence?
SALT began with a simple dream to brew great craft lager. The initial concept evolved over the three-year ideation and building process and our focus is now brewing exceptional hop-forward beers. We’re still pretty focused on lager though.
Setting up shop with a new brewery in a crowded scene is a brave move – were there any concerns or worries for you?
We are firm believers in there is always space if something is done right, with high quality and consistency. We like to think we are pioneering in our approach to beer and everything that surrounds it. SALT is an experience-led brand and the experience we build alongside some fantastic beer is central to our mission. Being part of a crowded scene is great as it means we have to up our game and strive for the best!
SALT has set themselves up with so much ambition to break into every household as one of the names in great beer – how have things been progressing so far?
Over our 8-9-month lifespan, we have seen tremendous growth and SALT is really building traction. We have won awards for our beers and have distribution across the UK. Each month is busier (which is great!) and the feedback we are receiving for our beers is amazing. As a team, we’re excited to see what the future holds and hopefully continue to grow and become a leader in the industry.
SALT have an amazing facility in a beautiful building in a UNESCO heritage town – that can’t have been easy – tell us about the balancing act of keeping the site true to the town and yet a creating a functional workspace?
It’s a big challenge! The beer factory is housed by a Grade II listed Tramshed in the UNESCO World Heritage site of Saltaire. The heritage of our homeland is such a big part of the brand, this is seen in our name, and the textile terms we used to name our core range beers. There were issues such as planning permission etc. due to the nature of the building that houses the brewery but that’s part of what makes it so special. The beer factory is a brewery, taproom and live events space. So, keeping everything running smoothly and having the brewery sparkling clean as a showpiece can be challenging.
Saltaire owes its existence to its progressive founder Sir Titus Salt – you’ve nodded to the town’s history with some of your branding and even in the modern forward-thinking style of your beers – tell us a wee bit about how you the town’s history has influenced the brand?
Sir Titus Salt was super progressive both in terms of the textile industry and the materials and techniques used and also in terms of worker’s rights. The village was built to house the workers of the mill, he introduced mandatory days off and built an amazing park amongst other things. He also developed a technique to process Alpaca wool which at the time was seen as relatively unworkable. We try to be progressive and innovative with our beers.
For instance, recently we have been experimenting with making our own oat milk to use as a vegan-friendly substitute to lactose. Over the course of their careers, the brewers have been leaders in terms of inventing styles such as the pastry stout our even novel ways to serve beer such as the ‘soft serve’! We want to keep this ingenuity going so keep an eye on what we’ve got coming up.
SALT have something of a rock star brewing team – how the hell did you manage to pull together the team?
I think the main thing within the team is we all buy into the same ethos and share the vision for SALT. Colin Stronge joined us in February and his approach to beer mirrored our initial vision for SALT. We are really focused on having a consistent core range of beers and opening up the world of hop-forward beer. Having the brewery and taproom all as one is core to this and Colin had always wanted to create something like this. Chris Wigg joined from Buxton and he and Colin share a serious brewmance from their time together! The main thing is that every member of the team is part of the SALT ethos, we are all working together to create our own lane and having the flexibility and also the expertise from the brewers is what drives this.
It’s all about building a team of like-minded people who work hard for one another and are free to build SALT.
Your beers are unfiltered to the point of being opaque – they look beautiful. Are there challenges in maintaining consistency when you don’t filter?
There can be consistency issues. However, with the state of the art SSV brewhouse and the amazing brewing team we have, this isn’t an issue. It’s all about doing things right, giving everything the same care and time it need and not packaging anything that we are not happy with.
We see ourselves as modern brewers and the haze as an indicator of modern beer. But it goes beyond that, the haze is hop and protein in suspension. This puts the ‘hop’ in Hop-forward! This adds flavour and mouthfeel. We feel filtering would strip out some of the beautiful hop flavours and also take away from the mouthfeel so expect plenty of hazy beers going forward.
You have been working with some of our friends up here in Scotland to create some outstanding collaboration beers – what is it like to work with other brewers around the country?
Collaborations are great as the brewers share expertise, processes and ideas. We’re always learning and trying new things and collaborating with such established breweries is a great honour. It means we get to learn from some of the best in the industry and vice versa. The brewing industry is really open and friendly and collaboration days are always fun. Anything we can do to continue to learn and evolve is always important!
We’re featuring Jute, your Session IPA this month in our Craft Beer Club – can you tell us a bit about it and how important is it for you to have an outstanding core range beers like this in your arsenal?
Our goal for Jute was to make an accessible and easy drinking session beer; we definitely think we have achieved this. This is important to our goal which is to open up the world of hop-forward beer. Having people enjoy Jute is important as the first step in broadening horizons and potentially trying more exciting beer styles. We want anybody and everybody to enjoy Jute alongside the rest of our core range. Being known for a quality core range is really important as people always know a SALT beer is a great beer!
Jute’s run out on the Salt Beer Factory Bar – what beer is going in your glass?
If it’s available it’s got to be Citra NEIPA Jnr! Citra was our first keg special as a brewery and the reaction was amazing. It’s a session-strength or baby (hence the name Jnr) New England IPA. The aim was to brew a style which is commonly associated with higher ABVs at a session strength so more people can enjoy it. I know the Flavoury team love it and so do the SALT team.
Speaking of your bar – the brewery isn’t just a brewery, is it?
It’s brewery, taproom and live events space all in one. The brewery sits around the outside of the building and the taproom sits right in the middle. You can follow the journey of your pint to raw ingredients to dispense at the bar… talk about a beer-drinking experience! There is a stage with professional lighting and PA system, wood-fired pizza oven, viewing mezzanines and private hire and conferencing facilities. We have had sell-out events of up to 350 people, the most recent one being a night with Dom Joly from Trigger Happy TV! At night, the beer factory transforms with the whole brewhouse underlit with colour changing LED’s, neon signs on the wall and resident DJ. It is truly one of a kind and we are so proud to call it home.
Just in case they read Flavourly, who is the band/artist you most want to have come down and play Salt Beer Factory?
That’s a tough one as we all have different tastes but I think a firm favourite amongst all of us would be The Arctic Monkeys. Funnily enough, Chris our events manager booked them a number of years ago to play in Wakefield for only £300!