Welcome to The Park Brewery: An interview with Frankie Kearns
Following our cycle club ride on Saturday, we chatted to Frankie Kearns, Co-Founder of The Park Brewery. Frankie, alongside husband and Head Brewer Josh Kearns, launched The Park Brewery in 2014 and have since become a linchpin in the local beer community.
Located a 15-minute walk from the famous Richmond Park, The Park Brewery houses a 15 BBL kit (2,400 litres) and a small but characterful taproom. Frankie and Josh, along with their small team, work tirelessly to create great tasting, innovative beers - many of which take inspiration from the history and landscape of Richmond Park.
During our chat, Frankie tells us how the brewery came about, which beer you should try on your first visit to their taproom (or when you order online) and how embracing pies has helped the brewery through the nightmare of the Covid-19 lockdown.
Q: Hey Frankie, before we get into the inevitable Corona Virus chat, could you tell us a little bit about The Park Brewery and how you came to be?
A: Sure, The Park Brewery emerged from our family kitchen around 6-7 years ago. My husband and co-founder, Josh, was dabbling with homebrew kits, one thing led to another and what was initially supposed to be a hobby became our full time occupation.
The brewery itself is based in Kingston upon Thames, our original site was near Kingston Gate, right next to Richmond Park. We named ourselves The Park Brewery because of our love of outdoor life, nature and open recreational spaces, which seem to hold more value now than ever before. Our new site, in KT1 has a tap room, which is obviously closed at the moment.
“Josh was dabbling with homebrew kits, one thing led to another and what was initially supposed to be a hobby became our full time occupation. “
Q: Amazing, and what about your selection of beers?
A: We have three core range pale ales and produce two/three specials per month. All of our beer names are inspired by stories or place names from within the park (Richmond Park).
Q: Covid-19 has seriously affected the craft brewing industry, how have The Park Brewery reacted to the closure of pubs during this time?
A: Like all breweries, we had to think pretty quickly, the priority was to avoid chucking beer down the drain. We sourced some 5L ‘bags in a box’ and managed to sell all our cask ale to our local community via our website without ditching any.
To start with, we had no shop on our website, so step one was getting that set up. Thankfully, a very kind and amazing web designer/friend was able to get that moving for us super-fast.
We’ve also purchased a second-hand canning line, which is a massive step forward. More beer, more choice, more opportunities and hopefully some national sales via our webshop soon too.
“We have the best local community! Without their support we wouldn’t be where we are today.”
Q: You’ve mentioned the importance of the local community already, how exactly have you engaged this community over the last few months?
A: We have the best local community! Without their support we wouldn’t be where we are today.
We have a pretty extensive database/mailing list that we’ve built up over the years from countless events and open evenings. Plus, many of our customers are investors in the business (after a crowdfunding campaign in 2018).
Regular mailshots and social media updates have been useful in keeping our local community engaged. Plus, street WhatsApp groups have popped up all over the place, they’re a great platform for spreading information fast.
We tried to make things interesting by offering other products, e.g. wine and spirits, when they were hard to get hold of. And, we collaborated with @MypieLondon and delivered fresh pies with beer orders, which went down very well and will be returning soon!
“We collaborated with @MypieLondon and delivered fresh pies with beer orders, which went down very well and will be returning soon!”
Q: Pie and beer is a classic combination; I’ll be keeping an eye out for that. Someone from our cycle club is visiting your taproom (when you’re open again) for the first time, which beer should they try first?
A: I always recommend Gallows to new customers, which is an American Pale Ale. It’s our best seller and the first beer we ever sold to customers.
It’s packed with tropical flavours, mainly mango from the US hops (Simcoe and Mosaic).
It’s a great beer, with a lovely finish.
Q: I’ve got to agree, it’s a corker of a beer. 2020 hasn’t exactly gone to plan so far, so I know this is a hard question to end on... What do you think the future holds for The Park Brewery?
A: We have a lot more work to do. Teams to build. Beer to produce. Sales to make. Customers to convert! In many ways, it feels like we’ve only just begun.
We’re now completely self-sufficient with our own canning line and we’d like to get our beer out much further and wider.
National distribution is a big target for starters.
Thanks for the interview Frankie, we’re so excited to have you as our first ever cycle club brewery ride and interview. While The Park Brewery’s taproom is currently closed, you can order their fantastic beers direct from their online shop. Currently only available within a 5 mile radius of the brewery but, as Frankie mentioned, watch this space.
Here at Tour de Hops we run small group cycles to independent London breweries and post about it every other week. Each write-up includes ride highlights, beer reviews and snippets from an interview with each brewery.
We spoke to Frankie after our inaugural Tour de Hops cycle club brewery ride on Saturday 13th June 2020. Keep an eye on the blog later this week for the full write up..
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