Speaking to The Morning Advertiser ahead of the official launch of the new brewery this weekend, Lowe said that he and co-founder Tom Lowe were “just getting started”, but stopped short of ruling out handing over the reins of the business in the future.
"From our perspective, Tom and I are extremely excited to have got the brewery to this point, and we feel like we are only just getting started,” he said. “Being based in central London, having this kind of equipment and having this exposure to the market, I feel like we have done the hard work and laid the foundations, now is the time to go, have fun and see where we can take our brand."
Lowe admitted that Fourpure receives takeover approaches “all the time” but insisted that he and his brother remained the best people to take the brewery forward.
"People from all walks of life approach us, whether that be people with money, multinationals, etc,” he said. “That is just a part of running a successful business; people are always going to be knocking on the door wondering either how to replicate what you have done or to buy it. Tom and I are always willing to chat to these people but ultimately what we are doing here is just the beginning."
"If Fourpure gets to the size where we aren't the guys to be running it then maybe we need to look at how it is run and who it is run by, but I don't feel like we are at that point yet,” he continued. “However, if it gets to the point where Tom and I can't feed and water the business in the way that it needs, and it needs a different root, then we will take the pragmatic decision and go a different way.”
Improvements in production and quality control
Among the improvements made to the brewery with the money invested includes a 400% increase in capacity, 12 new 200-hectrelitre fermentation tanks, two grain silos and automated malt handling system. Lowe highlighted the ability for the brewer to crush its own grain on site as key to improving the freshness of its beers.
"There's a lot of capital involved in producing our own malt, including the silos and the crusher but what it does for us is it improves freshness right from the start,” he said. “As soon as grain is crushed then it starts to oxidise and the quality will be declining.
“We think that by starting with whole grain and crushing before use sets you off with the best quality standard for what you are making."
The brewery is also leading the way in terms of quality control and sensory analysis, having recently installed a full chemical and microbiological beer-testing laboratory at its site in Bermondsey. Lowe stated that he hoped Fourpure could act as a helping hand to others, thereby improving beer quality across the industry.
"Outside of the big brewers and the multinationals, we probably have the best lab capability in London,” he said. “We have microbiologists on staff, and within our Bermondsey Beer Mile community we have already been helping out if they have concerns about quality.
“It would be great for us to be able to do more of that as people become more aware of what we can do. It is very easy for breweries to taste beer in bright tanks and say 'oh yeah it is great' but we are keeping ours for an entire shelf life. Many publicans will get beer than is not as fresh as it could be, so we are tasting the beer as they will be getting it so that we know that what we are putting out is of a great quality. The more we talk about that the more we can help the brewing community to move forwards and focus on better beer quality."
Backing the lager trend
Around one third of Fourpure’s production is lager, with two of its biggest selling beers being its Pils and Indy Lager, and Lowe stated his belief that these beers styles ought to be regarded as “a destination in their own right”.
“Much of what brewers drink is lager, because they are sessionable and they demonstrate a high level of technical expertise,” he said. “When you look to places in the US like Victory [Brewing Company], they are making incredible Pilsners and lagers that are not stepping-stone beers, but destinations in their own right.
“We don't talk about our Pils or our Indy Lager as being stepping stones into our other products. We very much see them sitting alongside the rest of our range. An IPA is a very different drink to a Pilsner but I don't think one is a route to another."
On the subject of why lagers and pale ales had become so popular among British drinkers, Lowe added: “Lagers and pale ales sit very well in the sessionable category. We are a pint drinking culture to a reasonable extent and, therefore, things that sit in the 4% to 5% ABV range make more sense in the way that we consume alcohol, especially in the on-trade.
“The use of third pints and the introduction of tasting evenings does allow access to other stronger products, but I don't think that ultimately they are going to command the huge amounts of the markets that pale, sessionable beers do.”