Published on July 5, 2018 | by Alastair Gilmour0
The two “ordinary blokes” behind the Brew Stories website and video blogs are Rich Rogerson and Dean Marriner, two graphic designers who knew nothing about craft beer until they made it their business to do so.
By day they work for Infinite Design in Newcastle, but have been granted a commendable amount of freedom to learn new things about film cameras, sound equipment and editing gear. In the process they have found out a lot about the places and people who make great beer in the North East – and, possibly just as importantly, discovered more about themselves.
The great thing about meeting double-acts is that there’s rarely a pause in the conversation. But that’s also a drawback, because comments become interchangeable and if the pair work well together they speak with one voice.
So, apologies for not separating our conversation into “Dean said” and “Rich said”, One question though – what is Brew Stories about?
“We like beer and we were keen to get behind the subject and discover the stories. It was originally a way to learn how to use digital equipment, but our first attempts weren’t that good. We started off reviewing beer but realised we didn’t have the knowledge to do it properly – then we switched to reviewing places we liked and the people we liked. It’s about forging relationships.
“Now people are asking us to come down and do a Brew Stories from their place. Apparently they get loads of hits on Facebook when we’ve been. When we went to Allendale Brewery 105 thousand people saw it. People are really interested in beer.
“Each story takes a lot of our time; you can’t just produce something in 20 minutes. You might film it on a Monday and edit it on a Tuesday or also a Wednesday, so there’s a lot involved.
“However, our employers are also getting something out of it. We’ve learned new skills and got more competent at what we do in our jobs, plus it introduces us – and Infinite Design – to new people all the time. It’s about creating a community that keeps us going. We also don’t make any money out of it; it’s all good fun.
“We’re very lucky that we’ve been given the time to do this, it’s a real benefit. We’re story-tellers and have a bit of a laugh as well. The only problem we have is there’s not enough hours in the day to do what we want. We’ve got a list as long as your arm of places and people we need to visit.
“Beer’s great for us but it’s the stories that interest us more. For example, take Rikky from Bear Claw in Spittal, near Berwick. His brewery is so small you can only wonder how he can make such great beer with just a barrel and a stick. And people like Danny McColl (McColl’s Brewery) are full of enthusiasm, doing it right, getting it how they want it before moving on to the next thing.
“We like getting out of the office as the proper job involves looking at screens all day – and it’s nice to sample beer. It’s a case of when any opportunity comes along we’ll take it and if it raises the profile of brewers and companies like Brewlab in Sunderland that’s fantastic; it’s what we want.
“The two of us just want to get better and better at what we do and take our ideas to the full breadth of the country.
“We were involved with a North East trade mission to Munich recently with loads of bigger regional companies such as Ringtons, Beatsuite and Novel Tea. We took beers from Wylam, Northern Alchemy, Flash House, Errant, McColls and Almasty which was hugely, hugely successful.
“They loved the Errant and Wylam cans, the graphics and the feel of them.
“Everybody has been really nice to us, they’ve been open and got loads of time for you. The future is to get better at what we do; it’s about sound quality and picture quality, but we don’t want anything to look too studied. Dean and Rich is who we are.”