no. 003 | Full Circle
Not quite 2 years old, Newcastle’s Full Circle Brew Co. has already been ranked as one of the Top 10 New Breweries in the World. We sat down to chat with founder, Ben Cleary, about his less-than-normal introduction to the world of craft beer business.
Full Circle is the youngest brewery we’ve showcased so far. Founded in the North East of England in December 2019, the business only had about two months of relatively normal operations before its world, and everyone else’s, was completely upended.
Needless to say, the last 18 months have been challenging.
Breweries across the world have struggled as pubs, restaurants and other hospitality venues, which are the lifeblood of many breweries, have seen prolonged closures. However, Ben’s enthusiasm and passion have helped to transform an obstacle into an opportunity.
"We've definitely learnt to be more resilient as we have only know pandemic times", says Ben. "Our business plans and daily routines changed on a weekly basis and with such a large investment [in equipment] from the get go, laying quiet and hoping it passed wasn't an option."
Quickly turning his attention to their online shop and local deliveries, Full Circle have garnered a lot of positive attention locally and through beer-rating apps like Untappd (which we highly recommend downloading). Orders continued to grow and by the end of last year they’d been ranked as one of the Top 10 New Breweries in the World by Rate-Beer. Ben puts Full Circle's seemingly speedy success down to their approach:
"Never rush anything! We have seen quality drop on many of our household favourites as breweries doing well can easily fall into the trap of rushing beers out and that hugely affects the taste.
And, unsurprisingly, taste is continually at the forefront of the Full Circle team's minds.
"Our head brewer, Alex, attenuates [the process of converting sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide during the fermentation process] our beers so well that part of the signature of our beers is that they don't taste as strong as they sometimes are".
Ben’s journey into brewing began two generations before him. His grandparents were involved in the pub and beer trade and his parents were vintners. It's these roots that inform the brewery's name:
"I'm going back into beer and the pub trade with our taproom. We've gone Full Circle".
Those influences remain in Ben's outlook and the breweries practices. Talking about upcoming beers, he enthuses about a recently implemented barrel ageing programme: "due to my history with the wine industry, and my parents', we want to focus solely on wine barrel ageing".
And the iterations don't stop there. As an independently run business, sustainability is at the heart of everything Full Circle does. With a fleet of electric vehicles, solar panels providing power across their office block, three wind turbines in use and a pioneering underground heat pump heating their warehouse, they impact to keep the entirety of their impact in the drinking of their cans.