MAGIC ROCK BREWERY / SPRING/SUMMER 2017 / ISSUE SIX / NOTES MAGAZINE
In the unlikely setting of a trading estate on the edge of Huddersfield town centre, something strange and magical is brewing
A continuation of the theme
All photos courtesy of ©Sam Needham
This is a story about relationships: family relationships, friendships, shared interests and above all the relationship between products and the public face of those products. It is said that if you make a better mousetrap the world will beat a path to your door. If only it were that simple. The truth is there are many people making great products, offering great services and generally doing a really good job yet hardly anyone has heard of them. Being good is no longer enough.
"They seemed like drinking in technicolour compared to the ales I was used to drinking over here."
As the son of a successful businessman, it was no great stretch for Richard Burhouse to consider starting his own. "Do what you know about" they say and Richard, in common with many other young men of his age, liked beer. Specifically he liked the new styles and flavours of beers that were being produced in the United States in the mid 2000s. Richard also had experience in graphic design, having done this for the family business for 15 years.
Putting business, beer and graphic design together, in 2009 Richard started an online bottle shop specialising in this new style of beer and called it myBrewerytap.com. At this point the story could have » ended with "and they all lived happily ever after" and that would be that. But no. Not lacking in ambition, in 2011 Richard, having joined forces with his brother Jonny and head brewer Stuart Ross, closed the online shop and opened Magic Rock Brewing in an old outbuilding of the family business. When you hear that by summer 2015 they had moved into a new brewery, business was obviously going well.
One of Richard's other interests was mountain biking. Through this he met another graphic designer called Rich Norgate. Their relationship was to prove critical in the development of Magic Rock. Richard was perceptive enough to realise that Rich (yes it does get confusing) was capable of producing artwork that could complement and enhance what he was doing as a brewer and take the brand to a whole new level.
With an intuitive understanding of what might appeal to the youthful, modern market at which Magic Rock were aiming, the pair took the word Magic, married it with ideas taken from the circus, sideshows and a shared enthusiasm for the dark comedy of the League of Gentlemen to produce one of the most distinctive – and evidently appealing – graphic identities you could ever wish to meet. Richard: “We’re both big fans of dark humour and we intentionally aimed to bring that kind of fun but slightly macabre feeling to the branding.”
All great fun you might think but this is a serious business venture where the quality of the product - the beers - is absolutely paramount and at the heart of what they do.
Another relationship produced the company’s strapline "Same But Different" – a fellow cyclist never stopped saying it – and it encapsulated the idea of something familiar (beer) given a new twist (Magic Rock). At one level the company’s graphic presentations resemble psychedelic 1960s rock concert posters that have stumbled into the future. At another it is as if the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine surfaced in the fictional village of Royston Vasey and decided to hold a party.
All great fun you might think but this is a serious business venture where the quality of the product – the beers – is absolutely paramount and at the heart of what they do. As Richard says “It’s important to have a product that appeals to people visually, but it’s not as important as the quality of the beer.”
The trick that Richard, Rich, Jonny and the rest of the team have pulled off is harnessing the fun and creativity exemplified by their graphic image to a rigorously coordinated programme of promotion encompassing social media, packaging, point-of-sale material, merchandise and most recently the taproom adjacent to the brewery. It's a pub/cafe, clubhouse, event and performance space all rolled into one that opened a year or so ago. Not surprisingly it looks, sounds, feels and smells just as you would expect if you are familiar with Magic Rock’s image. »
Crucially, opening Magic Rock Tap has given the company scope to develop relationships with local like-minded companies and organisations. You will find collaborations with local food producers, the Huddersfield Literature Festival, a Cyclists Day – anything and anyone who shares the Magic Rock ethos.
Of course it is all underpinned by the quality of the beer they produce and the good news is that you don't have to come to Huddersfield to sample it. Magic Rock products are available directly through their website and in numerous bars, pubs and shops across the country. Once you are familiar with the company's presentation you will have no problem spotting their products on the shelves.
Inevitably the question of responsible drinking crops up when you run a brewery. When asked how he handles being around beer all day, Richard came up with a suitably sober response. “I’m very conscious that drinking doesn’t guarantee a good time. It’s equally - if not more – about good company and circumstances.”
As a final taste of Magic we will leave you with some of the names for the beers put up for consideration. They are as redolent and evocative as the shipping forecast: Ringmaster, Contortionist, Highwire, Bearded Lady, Clairevoyance Cannonball and Custard Pie to name but a few. Romance and business in perfect harmony.
Future events at the Taproom
Vegan Street Food Festival 2017 - 2nd June - 25th June
Each weekend in June we will have a different vegan Street food trader (Friday, Saturday, Sunday) PLUS an all day Vegan Festival on Saturday 3rd June to celebrate the fact that our beers will be fully vegan
Bike Day 2017 - Sunday 9th July
Bike Day returns for 2017!
See website for more details
Food & Drink Festival 2017 - Sunday 6th August
12pm - 9pm, multiple street food traders, special beers, live music