“A German, two Swedes and an Irishman walk into a bar…” chuckles Ben Ott, head brewer of 40ft, as he starts our tour of his small-but-perfectly-formed brewery. Referring to the four founders of this year-old operation, he recounts the story of how this innovative company has gone from kitchen table to taproom in the last 12 months.
Andreas and Fred Pettersson (passionate Swedish homebrewers) approached Ben (German brewing aficionado, punk singer, and former head brewer at Truman’s) to help them take their homebrew to the high street. With Steve Ryan (Irish co-founder of Root + Bone magazine) on-board, this very pan-European project was born.
Their outside-the-box planning led them back inside – to a set of shipping containers, 40ft in length, in which they decided to build the brewery. The challenges of establishing a brewhouse in a box – fitting the whole set-up inside two containers – also came with distinct advantages. More cost-effective and flexible than your average venture, 40ft has the ability to relocate. And as they grow, so too can the structure, almost like a lego house – brick by brick.
The size is clearly no detriment to quality: their short but successful roster of beers has created a loyal following of craft-beer fans. The signature brew is the Larger, a top-fermented lager whose name signifies a bolder version than the average. It’s also easier for us Brits to pronounce than Kölsch – the German inspiration for the beer and a legacy of Ben’s Teutonic brewing background. The Swedish strain comes in the Päle, an easy-drinking session pale ale made from American and English hops. And the Deep, a classic stout, is a nod to Steve and the 40 Foot – Dublin’s outdoor swimming spot.
Until at least 2017, you’ll find them at the back of the Bootstrap building, who gave them the original leg-up when they needed someone to sell their beer. In a shabby-chic enclave down Abbot Street, they sit alongside bakers the Dusty Knuckle, providing a secret, plant-filled beer garden just off Kingsland High Street.
And there’s much on the horizon. As well as an upcoming 1st birthday party, they host regular events such as Vinyl Gravity, collaborations that see beer-and-music enthusiasts brew with Ben, and two weeks later serve up their beer alongside the pair DJing.
More punny beers are planned: next up is Street Weiss – the 40ft version of a Hefeweizen – and Stronger in Europe, in time for the referendum, and full of hope that this mash-up of talented European souls may long be able to continue.