Although neither a Werewolf nor a teenager, Rich White is definitely an American in London. Back home in New York, Rich was working for a credit union and running brewpubs in his spare time. Then, in November 2013, he decided to come and see Frank Turner (an English punk and folk singer-songwriter) at the Wembley Arena. Not knowing anyone, he posted on the artist’s message board asking if anyone was free to meet up. Laura Emson replied and offered to show him around. Rich said, “It was love at first sight, aided by the fact that Laura loves her beer. And we married at a Frank Turner concert”. Laura is a bar manager at CAMRA’s Great British Beer Festival.
Consequently, Rich moved to the UK and started working at the Pelt Trader in the City when he heard that the Bull in Highgate (home of the London Brewing Company) wanted an assistant brewer. He began working with Jenna Dunseath and took over as head brewer when she left a few months later in early 2014. After a couple of years, the London Brewing Company took on the Bohemia pub in North Finchley and Rich moved there to set up a new 6.5 barrel brewery, which was over three times bigger than the brewery at the Bull.
After three years, in 2019, Rich decided it was time for something new, “I felt London could do with something a bit different as to what was on offer in the London beer market. I wasn’t getting a beer with the mouthfeel, quality and consistency I wanted”. Rich’s views were reinforced by a visit to the USA the following year, “I noticed the quality difference and wanted to do it my way (in London). I like being my own boss, having my own vision and doing things left field. And I don’t think I am the easiest employee, so setting up my own brewery became my goal.” To begin with, Rich went to work with Susan Currid of the Business of Drinks company, on business and brand development. He said, “Originally, I was thinking about something bigger than I have ended up with; I bought House Brewery’s Five barrel plant that they used at the Prince in Wood Green.”
The inspiration for the name Werewolf was the film An American Werewolf in London, and Rich has trademarked the name in the UK and Europe. He explained, “I was surprised that no brewery was using this name and so my initial challenge was to develop a social media presence without a product. I did have to buy the twitter name off someone though. I was doing some home brewing to develop my recipes but I needed to get a brewing licence and an AWRS Number (see note) and that meant finding premises. The Rose & Crown in Kentish Town fortunately stepped in to allow me to temporarily set up in their basement with a 50 litre plant and this allowed me to refine the recipes.”
Finding a permanent home hasn’t however been easy. Rich continued, “I have been working on a location for over a year. COVID has given me the time to think through what I wanted to do and what I could afford. I was originally going to make the taproom a priority but now it’s off sales and a canning line.” Following the tradition of many London brewers, the premises currently under consideration are a railway arch, just a few minutes’ walk from Camden Road Station. Rich likes the site because there is a gated area which can be used as a large beer garden. This is just as well as it gives Rich somewhere to put the ghost train he purchased; this came from the Rainbow Park in Hunstanton and the carriages will be used for seating.
Unlike many breweries, Rich is not intending to install a keg washer; he intends to use key kegs or Kegstar for his containers, so they are all ‘one way journeys’. This will also eliminate the need for keg collection. At the moment, he has no intention to produce cask beer.
So what of the future? “I’ll be brewing classic American beers that are bitter but balanced. The core to start with will be a lager (Moonstop), Psycho Billy APA, Horrorshop Rye IPA, Creepster American Brown and a session citrus called Stay Out. I am also going to brew a ‘visual range’ of one off beers with the colour coming from the ingredients. We hope to be ready by July and we’ll probably look at some crowdfunding in due course”.
Who would have thought that true love would end up being responsible for an American Werewolf in Camden!
Note: anyone selling alcohol commercially needs to be approved by HM Revenue & Customs and issued with a unique AWRS (Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme) number. The scheme was introduced in 2017 to control alcohol related duty and VAT fraud.