It is December. We are sitting in a dimly lit corner, upstairs in a central London pub near Chinatown. A log fire roars providing comfort from the minus conditions outside.
Me, Jord, Mike, Alex, Trent (AKA Trenno, of MG Australia notoriety, Ben was otherwise engaged at his “other” jobs Christmas party but met us the night before for a few scoops, Roger you’re on the next one!)
The gang is finally together to celebrate two years of Mash Gang (and brew our final collab beer of the year, more on that later)
Cold pints, warm fire, and reflection.
Reflection on the fact that a handful of friends managed to scrape 5 grand together and turn it into the high growth, nascent, yet most regarded low alcohol brand with global reach.
All achieved under our own steam.
By that I mean without outside investment, I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t any element of timing, luck, or support from larger breweries and the community (you, reading this) to help us get there.
You made us:
Keep going when we wanted to quit
Keep pushing the limits of what is possible, whilst nailing the trad styles
Keep working on getting better at every aspect of what we do
People believed in what we are doing, and that told us we were onto something.
What has the year taught us?
What happens when you ask the question “how hard can it be?”
It turns out that, it is in fact very fucking hard.
A self-funded (bootstrapped) business lives month-to-month in the beginning, and arguably in the middle.
We’d not been in the same room since school, let alone run a business together.
We had very little capital, and competitors were raising left-right and centre.
We weren’t brewers.
We barely knew how to function as individuals, let alone as a team.
We had to do things differently, DIY punk style (actual punk, since most of the members have played in actual punk bands at some stage).
Everything was a lesson, win or learn.
Failures are harsh lessons, but ones we adapted to and overcame. Would we be in the same position if we took capital early? I don’t believe we would. It forces you to be risk-averse and to back out quickly if something doesn’t work, and it's served us well, for now.
So what have we done this year?
It’s been our defining year. Innovation, growth, and a ton of new friends. Sink or swim, make it or forsake it.
Beers we made
We just keep churning them out, and we ain't even started yet:
Stoop - our dad beers homage Pilsner that accidentally slaps
Stoop extra dry - Like it’s bigger bro, but with a Japanese lager twist, cult following
Brewski - Our rustic Lager, gnarly yet aficionados choice
Neskviek - Strawberry milkshake beer, also fuck Nestlé.
Natural History - Started off life as a Trinity collab, quickly established itself
South Central - Natty with extra fruit funk
Chug - Our signature XPA, and my baby since I am become death)
Chug gold - Chug, with a hop shakeup and extra sauce
Chapter series - Nolo Fresh beer project, first of its kind (and while unsustainable, it was top-drawer gear)
Paradigm shift - The manifestation of “continuous improvement”) the kitchen sink our knowledge thrown at a low ABV DIPA to pull it out of joke status
Rad gold - Tropical the fuck out of chug
Night curse - Blue, cursed pale ale, artwork by artist SteakMountain about as US as it gets
Sour batch hops - Melted sour patch sour ale, dentists fear it
Capn Krunk - Fucking breakfast cereal milk in a beer, shouldn't work, did
Cryo pop tarts - American breakfast cereal beer wasn’t enough
Anxiety Saint - Tiramisu in a can
Collabs we did (sorry if I forgot some, we been busy)
A huge thank you to every single one of our collaborators. We wouldn’t be where we are without you, and I truly believe that, as a collective, we have raised the bar even higher for low alc brewing.
Bundobust - Brut Luxe - extra pale, crisp n dry brut IPA, Bundo does the best indian food and a great beer lineup too
Northern Monk - Turbo Rave Love - Our adopted parents NM and Leimai Lemaow back at it with the stupid fruit
Fierce - VSM - Very big moose put in a car crusher
Fierce - Big natty - Natty wishing it was a lil bit taller
Fierce - Infinity pool - Natty wishing it was a baller
Fierce - Ocean drive - Natty went to the beach
Unbarred - Mango Berliner - Fruity, winey, perfection in mango sour form, and a nod to the wild city of Berlin
Vault city - Tahiti treat - Rum Punch bowl
Vault city - The Schoff - Grapefruit hangover cure
Alpha Delta HD - Energy beer, dangerous sour IPA
Ridgeside NBTS - Cold IPA, real cold, floral
Vocation - Permanent Vacation - Summer NEIPA
Vocation - Get Wavy - Long summer NEIPA
Dig - Lucy in the sky with demons - rare pokemon, Coffee dark mild goodness
Boxcar Very Mild - (I said more on that later, yeah this it it!) If you don’t know about Boxcar Dark Mild, now you know
Unity Nonflux - South coast collab low abv twist on Conflux
Amundsen - Reign in blood - Dessert prollab, the pinnacle of Low ABV stouts
Brew York Lil purple one - That purple Christmas chocolate, yeah that one
Garden X Brulo - Birth / Life / Death - Us, Croatia's finest and nolow friends Brulo with the triple drop
Northern Monk - Self titled AKA A Deal with the Devil - Our first supermarket craft IPA foray into Morrisons.
Cronx x Mash Gang x Crystal Palace - Nil Nil - Enough said!
A chance to get out and meet our community, our peers, and friends. Thanks to everyone who supported us, stopped to chat, or tried something from us.
Vans X Delaire the Liar Album Launch Covent garden
Hop City - Hopheads dreamland hosted by our daddies Northern Monk - Hops, beats and eats.
Dark n wild - Grunge hop city, dirty, dark and wild from NM
Indieman - Victorian swimming baths and beer, a perfect match unless you are stood in the deep end, pass my back the deep heat
Brewers Congress - Jord lording it up as King of Maison du Mash
Bury Tomorrow - Last shout to Kris at Metalcore bud, Bury tomorrow, much love and thanks for your support!
I mean most things on the list of beers are weird but we also did some weeeeeird shit
Tears - Low ABV hopped hard seltzer with white grape, absolute thirst crusher
BA anxiety Saint - Anxiety saint, subjected to barrel aging treatment and presented in a fancy ass bottle
Awards and press
We’ve not paid a cent for PR, and we are hugely grateful for the coverage. Independent journalists took a punt on showcasing us and that means an awful lot. We picked up an award or two.
AF beer awards - TBA
Independent - Chug - Best alcohol-free beers for Dry January - Two years in the running!
There’s no denying that Mash Gang is changing the face of the “lo ’n’ no” movement by making AF beers cool. The brand has nailed the face and image of its brewery. It’s modern, it’s on-trend, it’s trippy – and its alcohol-free beer is just as impressive.
We loved chug, its vegan XPA (extra pale ale: a type of pale born in the US that isn’t quite a classic pale or an IPA) from its core range. We expected a lot from its impressive hop list – including galaxy, citra, el dorado, amarillo and vic secret – and, if anything, chug’s big taste exceeded our expectations.
It pours a hazy gold, with a flash of frothy white head and a boisterous pineapple, fruity nose. Pineapple continues when it comes to taste, bringing passionfruit along to the party before being joined by a citrus, almost grassy, bitterness. - Emmie Harrison-West
Telegraph - Stoop - How to do booze-free Christmas
Referred to by the brewer as an “eighties dad beer”, this American pilsner is a perfect low-alcohol option for lager-loving guests. A crisp, refreshing pilsner that will lure die-hard drinkers away from the siren song of the Stella. - Laura Hadland
Mr Porter - Stoop - Non-Alcoholic Beers To Get You Through January
If years of drinking in pubs gave me pub radar (I have a finely tuned instrument inside my head that can tell just by glancing across the road at a place whether it will have a suitably cosy vibe, whether or not the landlord will like me and if it has a pool table), Lockdown 1 gave me beer radar, an intuition as to whether a beer will be interesting or not based vaguely on the bottle shape, label design and name. London-based Mash Gang is a completely AF brewery that does all the cool and interesting and boundary-pushing stuff your favourite indie breweries are doing (back-print T-shirts, heavy metal logos, semi-insane breakfast cereal pale ales), just without the alcohol content. Its lager, Stoop, rightly took gold at last year’s AF Beer Club Awards. - Joel Golby
Pellicle Magazine 19 trailblazers and trendsetters
If you’ve met Jordan from Mash Gang, or even taken a quick peek at their Instagram, you’ll know the man is quite bonkers. Full of infectious energy and enthusiasm, he’s generous and forthcoming with his knowledge of no- and low-alcohol beer, which itself is far-reaching and boundless.
Discussing NOLO [No and Low-Alcohol] brewing techniques at IndyMan this year, a glass of Mash Gang’s old-school, IBU wars-inspired 0.5%er Stadium Craft in hand, blew my mind. And it’s clear I’m not the only one; Mash Gang have been collaborating with seemingly everyone this year from Norway’s Amundsen Bryggeri, Scotland’s Vault City Brewing and Fierce Beer, Croatia’s The Garden Brewery, and England’s Unbarred Brewing, Northern Monk Brew Co, Ridgeside Brewery, and Vocation Brewery.
They’re bloody everywhere, and it’s not hard to see why; their pale ale Chug left me speechless and may well be the best low-alcohol beer I’ve ever had. With rumours of a collaboration with a Premier League football team soon to be announced (what?) and any number of exciting developments heading our way, it’s clear that Mash Gang’s acceleratory (and a little absurd) rise has plenty more to go.
It’s wild to think that you’ve helped us grow so much, and pushed us to improve every aspect of what we do.
Proud, but never satisfied.
- Successful reward Crowdfunder, overfunded in less 24hrs (anyone waiting on perks, they are coming!)
- 36 beers and counting, some we can’t talk about yet…
- 700% growth FY21-FY22
- Some sleep
- Moderate fluctuations in mental health and relationships quality
- Export to Nordics, Finland, Netherlands, Switzerland, Australia, USA
- And wrapping the year with our first grocery listing
But, what a journey?!
I left my 19 year career in tech behind on the 23rd of December after burning the candle at booths ends for just long enough to see us on the beginning of the ascent to greatness.
I am incredibly grateful for, and proud of Jord, Alex, Mike, Ben, Trent, Roger and countless other friends, partners, and family for their achievements support, and advice.
2023 - Year of the Gang - Thanks for everything - James