One of craft beer’s finest pale ales, is on PerfectDraft. Yes, Cali Pale Ale from the Welsh brewery Tiny Rebel is fresh off the line. To celebrate the release of Cali Pale Ale, we bagged an interview with Gareth Williams, co-found of Tiny Rebel to learn about the beer, changing tastes and what people can expect.
Visiting Tiny Rebel’s vast brewery and bar in Newport, with its giant façade complete with it’s battered teddy logo and two huge grain silos, it’s hard to imagine that eight years ago, brothers-in-law Brad Cummings and Gareth ‘Gazz’ William’s were home brewing in a garage.
Every year, came expansion, largely thanks to excellent beer that quickly caught the attention of drinkers and judges and eye-catching branding. In their first year at the Great Welsh Beer and Cider festival in 2013, they came away with three awards… Gold, Silver and Bronze!
However, the brewery’s crowning glory was in 2015 when Cwtch one the Champion Beer of Britain, the youngest brewery, and only Welsh brewery, to win it. Today, they have well over 120 employees, sell beer to more than 35 countries and are still expected to grow 30% in 2020. Wow.
““I think the key for our growth is that we’ve kept true to ourselves, we’re not beer snobs; beer should be there to be drunk and enjoyed socially.”.”
THE RISE AND RISE OF TINY REBEL
I speak to Gazz from the brewery and ask if he expected such a meteoric rise when brewing in a garage in Newport.
“Me and Brad are beer geeks who liked drinking good beer but the beer scene eight years ago was pretty bleak. I mean you had BrewDog and Thornbridge, and we wanted to get into that scene. We never envisaged ourselves as a Thornbridge; we looked up to them.
“I think the key for our growth is that we’ve kept true to ourselves, we’re not beer snobs; beer should be there to be drunk and enjoyed socially.”
Over the years, Tiny Rebel has released a huge range of beers, some classic styles and many pretty far out. It’s perhaps a warming sign of the times, that a marshmallow porter in Stay Puft, could enter a core range of beers, as did Pump up the Jam, a jam doughnut pale ale and Peaches and Cream IPA. In the seasonal range, there is a rhubarb and custard sour, and a creamy Citra IPA called Five Dollar Shake. But at the core of all the beers is drinkability.
The Cali Pale Ale is a classic example. “I’d say it was balanced, but still punchy with hops, but overly punchy,” Gazz explains. “There’s no bitterness, it’s highly hopped but balanced, with a grassy, floral element. Balanced and drinkability are at the forefront for that sort of beer. We didn’t want it to be a beer that you have one or two of and think ‘that was nice but I can’t drink another’.”
WHAT'S NEXT FOR TINY REBEL?
Of course, it’s more than beer that makes a good, and successful, brewery. “We’ve got a good team around us, in finance, marketing, production. It’s not just about making beer, it’s a business at the end of the day. You have to sell beer, buy things, and it needs to be run right. And we’ve been lucky and blessed in having the right people around us.”
And there’s no let-up. In 2020, Tiny Rebel will move into another 30,000 square metre distribution, office and bar space across the road in its Newport base. It’ll leave space for a million-pound canning line that will speed through a frankly astonishing 15,000 cans an hour. And there’s a birthday party too in February when they’ll be releasing eight top-secret beers. Oh, and the brewery’s first-ever official low-alcohol beer, a 0.5% Clwb Tropicana!