Food & Drink

Floc to the goods yard for whisper beer

Floc Brewing comes to The Goods Yard at Folkestone Harbour.  This is another one of those pandemic success stories where furloughed professionals started up their own businesses.  Ross Shields worked for a brewery that directly supplied pubs, so he was out of work from the start of Lockdown in 2020.  Luckily he’d been planning his own brewery for a number of years. He had the branding and designs and bought a rather large home brewing kit which he set up in his kitchen.  Eventually, his wife got mad about that, so he hired a unit in Margate and moved the beer in there.  He was able to can it, and because everyone was looking for something local at that time, he started to build up a loyal group of customers.  Eddie was one of the first customers, and now part of the team, spoke to Folkelife about starting at Folkestone Harbour.

I’d also been working in beer and had moved out of London to Margate.  I was swanning around looking for interesting things to do.  There was this local brewery that everyone was talking about so I went along to try some.   Ross had a very small scale operation, he was canning 200 cans a day and selling out every time.  We got chatting, and I had loads of time on my hands being furloughed as well so we started talking about how to upscale this set up.”

scaling up the beer

“The problem is that when you work at this scale it’s difficult to make any money.  You can’t supply enough to the bigger customers such as pubs etc as well as the smaller customers.  So as we came out of lockdown and these bigger customers were contacting us wanting our beer, we started doing contract brewing. This is where you get a large brewery, send them your recipe or go there and brew on their kit. It’s a good way of testing the market without spending huge amounts on some very expensive kit.”

Floc at The Goods Yard
Floc Beer
Stout from Floc
Floc Pulling Pints
Floc Beer Canterbury
Whisper Beer

selling out

We became confident that what we were making was what people wanted.  At the same time as contract brewing we had a little bar in Margate.  Ross would bring a keg down each day and I ran the bar.  When we ran out of beer then that was it.  And we daily ran out of beer.  It’s such a good story to have going around because it brings in keen customers wanting to try what you have.  So we started to look for a space where we could keep up with demand.  We settled for Canterbury which has good links to the rest of the county and to London as well.  

“The space we have is a large so that it’s accessible for lots of people.  That’s what’s important to us.  We want people to come in who can bring the pram, the dog, the wheelchair, the bicycle.  That’s also what’s good about starting up in Folkestone Harbour.  This is a real family space and what we will be offering is our own beer, but also a glass of wine, and soft drinks.  It’s going to be a space where the person who loves a beer will come to try something new and different, but where everyone else can get a drink they will enjoy too.”

inclusive brand

“I’m really looking forward to seeing a new audience enjoy what we do.  It’s great to sell the beer around the country, but it’s even better to serve it directly to customers.  I came down here with a friend about 18 months ago and thought what a unique space Folkestone Harbour is.  You can spend all day here, with friends, with your family, and you get the opportunity to try lots of different food and drink.  There’s no where else like it.  I felt we needed to be here so started emailing the team here constantly.  And this is what happens if you just keep on at them!  Eventually an opportunity comes up and here we are.”

whisper beer

“Our best seller is the second contract beer we brewed.  It’s soft, hoppy, hazy, easy-drinking.  Ross and I talk about if this is a beer you’d have just one pint of, or if you’d be happy to have more. (Drinking responsibly obviously.)  And if the answer is yes, then we crack on and see how people react to it.  It’s a New England IPA which is soft, fruity and hazy.  If you were to go into different types of IPAs – West Coast vs East, and so on – then that would create another article!  We have a West Coast IPA which is bright, and clear and bitter.  Maybe we’ll have to do a trial session?  Come down and find out!”

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