Mad Hatter Brewing founder to launch ‘apothecary’ brewpub

Gareth Matthews, founder of Mad Hatter Brewing, is set to unveil his new venture called Gibberish which will allow him to brew in small batches and “spend silly amounts of money on nice ingredients.”

Gareth Matthews. Photo: Twitter

Matthews told the drinks business that he wanted to “get back to brewing beer” and brew in small, 400 litre batches, selling directly to the customer, which he described as “really exciting”.

“I don’t really enjoy managing people, brewing on a big scale, or having to think too much about sales and packaging,” said Matthews.

Having completed a PhD with a focus on the hospitality industry, Matthews revealed that it has always been his dream to have a venue where the entire production and consumption process is conducted under one roof.

“I find the thought of producing beer that is also consumed on the premises, and the creation of an experience that is produced, exchanged, consumed at the same time and in the same space, a very interesting and exciting prospect”.

Why Gibberish?

Matthews told the drinks business that the name ‘Gibberish’ was chosen for many different reasons.

Firstly, said Matthews, it maintains “a link to madness and Mad Hatter”.

In addition, the name reflects Matthews’ desire to remove the jargon from craft beer and instead focus on its taste.

“I think that the craft beer world is in danger of becoming a little pretentious, and the serious detailed descriptions can be a bit much at times,” said Matthews.

“A nice beer is a nice beer at the end of the day, and often defies description. And, I suppose, I like the idea that after a few beers, people will inevitably be talking gibberish anyway!”

Lastly, there is the link between alchemy and the term ‘gibberish’. Jābir ibn Hayyan (c.721 – c.815), also known by his latinised name ‘Geber’, was one of the first chroniclers of alchemy in the early Islamic period. His writings, of which 3,000 treatises and articles are credited (although this has been disputed), are known for their esoteric language and rarely made sense to those unfamiliar with the Jabirian school of alchemy. A later scholar subsequently attempted to translate his works into latin, and this is thought to be origin of the word ‘gibberish’. 

Location and beers

The Gibberish brewpub will be located in Mad Hatter’s former premises in Caryl Street in Liverpool. It will have seating for around 150 people and will boast a beer list divided into ‘hop forward’, ‘malt forward,’ ‘sours,’ ‘yeast forward,’ cask ale and guest beer sections.

Matthews said: “There will be 12 keg taps, 3 cask hand pulls, and possibly a permanent Prosecco tap – it is Liverpool after all!”

The yeast-forward section groups together Belgian style beers, German wheat beers and other similar styles into one category.

Matthews continued: “I decided last night, after much deliberation, to take on the cask challenge because I do love well kept cask ale, and I have the opportunity to really look after it and make sure it’s kept well and dispensed well.”

“I also have a huge ‘hop rocket’ that will allow me to churn out some lovely hoppy beers, cask included.”

As well as cask and hopped beers, Matthews also wants to make “a few keeping beers” including imperial stouts, quadrupels, barley wines and some barrel-aged beers which will be put into 75cl bottles.

“There will be a 25ft high set of shelves behind the bar where these beers will be kept, and a really tall ladder to reach them with,” added Matthews. “I want the bar to have a kind of apothecary look to it”.

A focus on ingredients

One of the principal reasons behind the decision to launch Gibberish was that it would allow Matthews to spend more on ingredients.

He told db that the beers would share similarities with those of Mad Hatter – whose brews have included ingredients such as Greek yoghurt, cucumbers and Sichuan pepper – but with a bigger budget.

They will be “more towards luscious exquisite beers, with a bit of madness,” said Matthews. “I want to bring back the ‘truffle tripel’ and make an Eton Mess sour and a charcoal stout. The ingredients for beers like that are too prohibitively expensive to produce for sale to retail outlets on keg, but in a brewpub anything is possible!”

Mad Hatter beers. Photo: Mad Hatter Brewing

Matthews launched Mad Hatter Brewing Co. in 2012 with a £1,000 loan, after deciding to start brewing commercially in his parents’ garage using a 40 litre brew kit. Having initially pursued a career in academia, Matthews first tried his beers out on punters at a Christmas market at Sledmere House near Bridlington. After standing in the snow for two days, he sold all his beer and had officially caught the bug. The company officially started trading in February 2013.

Mad Hatter subsequently moved to Liverpool and has operated out of several premises in the city’s famed ‘Baltic Triangle’. It is currently based in North Liverpool and now uses a 20bbl (barrel) steam powered brewing kit that was formerly owned by Wylam Brewery.

Matthews will remain as director of Mad Hatter but the company will be principally run by Sue Starling.

Matthews commented: “Mad Hatter will be safe and sound in Sue’s hands. I am still a director, and I will make sure the beers remain great and interesting”.

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