no. 012 | Elusive Brewing
Andy Parker’s journey from his job in IT to founder of Elusive Brewery is a long and convoluted one that goes as far back as 1998.
It was then that he moved to California, where he familiarised himself with the still very young west coast craft brewing season. However, he missed British beer, and cask in particular, which is what led him to starting to home brew.
“We cracked it open on Super Bowl Sunday 1999 and it was terrible”, he admits. But it was the start of something that really took hold on his return to the UK in the early 2000s.
When Andy wasn’t spending his evenings in craft-focused pubs like The Dovetail in Clerkenwell or Pimlico’s Cask, he was spending time in breweries like Magic Rock and The Kernel, and venturing to places like Belgium to speak with brewers about their approach and their beers. “My obsession with beer had reached borderline insanity”.
It was a well-timed National Homebrewing Awards that presented Andy with an opportunity to take things to the next level and firmly laid the foundations for Elusive. His entry of an American Red Ale took home first place and the £5,000 prize, and was the final push that was required to take things full-time. The prize-winning beer, aptly named Level Up, is still part of Elusive’s core offering and is one of the five beers we’ve selected for batch no. 012.
Today, Elusive base themselves in Berkshire and have a full-time team of just four people. “We got all the way through lease negotiations on two units before things conspired against us”, says Andy. “When the Basingstoke unit fell through, I had already left my old job so we cast the net a bit wider and found the units in Finchampstead. By then I already knew Darron Anley and the team at Siren quite well so asked if they'd mind me setting up across the road. They were incredibly supportive and still are to this day”.
The 8-bit inspired visuals of Elusive’s logo and can labels are inspired by what Parker describes as his “misspent youth”. “I had an Acorn Electron as a kid and a lot of our beers are named after games from that or the BBC Micro. We have a lot of fun with it”.
Passionate about brewing the very best beer they can, Elusive have been investing in quality control and lab capabilities this year. Andy tells us that he never wanted Elusive to be a big brewery, but does feel like there’s more growth within the small and passionate team. “Perhaps we’ll add a few more tanks and an expanded taproom offering”, he pensively suggests. More Elusive beers in the world will only be a good thing.