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I bought a Peloton: Beavertown’s founder on life during, and after lockdown

As pubs and bars start serving punters again, Logan Plant, the head of north London’s Beavertown brewery, is fizzing with energy.

“We bought a Peloton,” Logan told me over Google Hangout last month. The UK went into lockdown on 23 March. He was getting restless, so looked up exercise bikes for his wife Bridget’s birthday. He’s almost as enthusiastic about the bike, which lets you join virtual spin classes, as he is about beer.

“You can go into hundreds and thousands of sessions. I’ve done the most exercise I’ve been doing my whole life!”

As Logan, the son of Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin fame, beamed through the laptop screen, you could see he was itching to get back to normal. Beavertown even commissioned poet Tim Key to draft up an ‘Ode to the Pub’ which was then displayed on pavements by 11 London boozers where people queued to get back in on 4 July.

What started out as a brewpub and barbecue place by an east London tube station has risen to become one of the most visible beer brands in the UK. In 11 years Beavertown has left Hackney, opened a brewery in Tottenham, gained listings in hundreds of pubs across the country, and set up a brewpub at Tottenham Hotspurs’ football ground. At the start of the year, the brewery was using a £40 million investment from its significant minority shareholder, dutch brewer Heineken, to build an even bigger brewing site and visitor centre in Enfield, aptly named Beaverworld.

But even the best laid plans don’t factor a pandemic. Logan says Beavertown lost 85% of its business as pubs and bars closed on 20 March. Staff were placed on furlough, and work on Beaverworld ground to a halt. The Premier League is being held behind closed doors. “It’s sad that we haven’t got 62,000 people drinking Gama Ray and Neck Oil every week but that’s fine, Tottenham have morphed as well. I feel for them and they’re a good partner and hopefully it will be safe for people to come back soon.”

Logan isn’t one for dwelling. Beaverworld won’t be able to open to the public just yet as “it’s just not a priority”, but staff have brewed seven times at the site already. The company also launched two beers, a 2.8% ABV “super-session” ale called Nanobot, and another “Staycation” IPA, both accompanied by virtual tastings.

“I’m so proud of what we’ve done,” he said. While the on-trade was cut off, the company pivoted away from producing kegs to cans. The team working at the Tottenham brewery shifted over to retail production, and managed to fulfil a huge uptick in online orders.

“We still had off-trade in the meantime and it’s gone ballistic.” The online shop went from taking around £1000 per week to £100,000. “It’s now the second biggest turnover we have.”

All the same, his excitement to reopen the taproom is palpable. This weekend it welcomed people back for the first time in four months, with tables spaced wide apart, and guests handing over their contact details for the sake of track and trace.

“I’ve been saying to the guys we will have a real celebration together,” he said, “so we can celebrate going through this together in one piece.”

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