Hops not Hate – Our collab brew for social inclusion
From the beginning the motto, ‘Drink it and talk to people’ has been a driving factor in how we’ve built the brewery. It started with a range of session beers that helped keep the conversation flowing, growing into projects like our community taproom, community support and the ‘Hops not Hate’ collaboration.
For most of us, the drinking and talking part is pretty simple. With the average Brit spending approximately 12 months in the pub over their lifetime*. This creates a hub of social activity, whether it’s to destress, catch up with a friend or to celebrate.
With that in mind, there is still a large portion of people that can’t. The people that need to plan their trip to the pub to make sure it’s accessible, to book additional staffing to support them there or simply find out how bright or loud the space is. The impromptu “swift half” becomes an exhausting expedition.
Before joining Gipsy Hill, I spent five years working in community outreach programs for people with learning disabilities and autism. The goal was to build independence by engaging with our local communities. We would build communication, travel and finance skills through planned daytrips. Teach healthy lifestyles through sports, social clubs and cooking classes. Social skills by shared interest groups and heading to the groups favourite pub.
My role was to plan, risk assess and deliver sessions. I would spend hours researching public transport routes; making sure each part of the journey was accessible, booking in ramps at train stations, avoiding busy bus routes and have the backup route if all went wrong (we were based on a Southern Rail line). I would contact venues to make sure their toilets were disabled friendly, that wheel chair users could access the venue and find out when their busiest times were.
I came to realise that spontaneity can rarely exist in this world. That the average British pub hasn’t thought about, can’t afford or are unable to be meaningfully accessible. At Gipsy Hill, we want to see this change.
We met Soren, founder of Dry and Bitter, and Hops not Hate last year at London Craft Beer Festival and started planning our brew. Hops not Hate is a platform for people in the beer industry to raise awareness and financially support a charity of their choice – giving 50% of net profit from the sale of beer to the charity.
Our focus: social isolation. We’ve partnered with a local charity ‘Certitude’. Certitude promotes social inclusion by providing support to people with learning disabilities, autism and mental health needs. Their support comes in many forms and they encourage people to find new interests, make new friends, get out and about and have fun.
We invited members of Certitude to the brewery to design and brew an experimental batch of beer, with the plan to scale it up for full release. We broke the recipe building element down, making it a sensory experience. We tasted and paired common flavours associated with hops and malt; Mango, papaya, pine, digestive biscuit, caramel to name a few. The group settled on mango, orange peel and biscuits. We then moved onto what style of beer we wanted to brew. After cracking open a few tinnies, the group favoured the sour styles – giving us our appropriately named “Mango & orange peel sour”. First pours will be available at London Craft Beer Festival with full release mid-august.
We want to support positive perceptions and change for people at risk of social isolation. ‘Hops not Hate’ is part of our first step, with plans rolling out over the next year to help make us more accessible. A lot of these changes are simple, they just take time, thought and a plan to implement.
Here are some of the ways you can make your space more accessible:
- First and foremost – Ask for feedback from the people who live it everyday.
- Be clever with your space, think about where furniture goes and what this means for access.
- Have a lowered part of your bar that’s easily reached by anyone that may have limited movement or be a wheelchair user.
- Raise your tables. Many tables do not comfortably fit wheelchairs.
- Update your website – if you’re accessible, tell people!
- Step free access
- Make your menus according to Easy Read Guidelines- Small changes like making font Size 14-18 can make a big change.
- Staff with knowledge, and the confidence to use it- training your staff can be a game changer, there are many courses available such as Person-Centred Care Approach, Mental Health Awareness and Sign Language that can make the world of difference to both staff and customers.
Our industry on the whole is compassionate, accepting and supportive. People want to make positive changes so that our scene grows and becomes more diverse. We want people from all walks of life to have access to the world we love so much. Often, one struggles to change due to lack of knowhow, or access to information. We’ve learnt a lot from our peers and still have a lot of learning to do.
If you’re interested in how to make your venue more accessible for disabilities, get in touch with us or any of these incredible people/businesses/charities below:
Drink it and talk to people
Written by Michael Huddart, our Marketing and Events Guy.