The wait for Dead Crafty has been a while, considering the rumour and innuendo that was brewing in Liverpool for quite some time. The doors to the newest haven for craft beers opened on Friday 18th March for a select few and then again the next day for the first full opening to the public.
Located near to one of Liverpool’s most famous pubs in the Ship and Mitre, Dead Craft sits in Westminster Chambers at the bottom of the flyover heading over from the direction of the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool World Museum and part of the John Moores University campus. The brainchild of Gareth and Vicky Morgan, this bar is dedicated to serving kegged beers and many hard-to-find bottles and cans from not only this country and Europe, but with a heavy slant toward bringing slices of the massive American craft brewing market into Liverpool; given Liverpool’s history this is somewhat serendipitous and rather apt.
The opening night had the ribbon cut by a special mystery guest, that Vicky and Gareth managed to keep secret until around a week before the opening, none other than Steve Hindy, the CEO of New York’s Brooklyn Brewery and being one of the forerunners of the craft keg beers to become available, seemed rather proper in the circumstances. Gently enthralling, Steve spun the yarn of his life’s work and how he ended up becoming involved in the brewing trade; from the tribulations of his work as Associated Press’ War correspondent based in Beirut in the 1970’s and early 1980’s, he witnessed the assassination of Egypt’s then President Anwar Sadat up close and personal, he was then present for gun battles between UN peacekeeping forces and militia forces in the region before returning back to the USA. In between these events, he found some solace in tasting the (by all accounts, very competent) homebrew of friends and acquaintances during his Middle Eastern tour, as the region is not really renowned for its brewing prowess. Choosing to return home rather than pursue his reporting career in the Philippines, Steve then had the joyous pleasure at the brewery of armed robberies and brushes with Organised Crime before finally striking on some luck with the Brewery and solid investment due to some hometown ties from Ohio.
Fast forward to 2016 and Steve seems happy to tell the stories and seems happy to report that Brooklyn Brewery is in much better health than the first 15 years of its life. The tap takeover at Dead Crafty is testament to that, with 8 of their beers present and Steve continuing his talk to sing the praises of Brooklyn’s brewmaster for his skill and innovation; Garrett Oliver. Hindy’s final focus from his regaling, is that the seeds of Brooklyn came from family investment and hard work, much like that of Dead Crafty who began their journey sometime ago, but culminating in the opening on a cool but fine Liverpool evening in March.
We've spent many years travelling around the US visiting breweries and craft bars. Two years ago we did a road trip from New Orleans to Houston, Texas. While we were there we attended an event ran by Goose Island called Migration Week. It was in a bar called the Hay Merchant in Houston. We were inspired by the whole ethos they had. The place was packed out with people, many on them on their own, sharing bottles and bonding over beer. We wanted to bring that vibe back home.
What will Dead Crafty offer to the city in terms of an experience in what is a fairly competitive atmosphere already?
What sets us apart from the rest is that we travel far and wide to bring beers and new breweries to our bar. We have great relationships with brewers right across the globe. Our range is second to none. We have the whole of the New Zealand Collective in our fridges and on draft and a huge selection of Rogue, again both draft and bottles. Every beer we sell we can vouch for, we only sell beers we have tasted or breweries we know produce high quality beers. We aren't scared to approach the bigger breweries either. We are great friends with Harpoon Brewery, Founders Brewery and Brooklyn Brewery. We had the honor of Steve Hindy from Brooklyn Brewery come over to officially open the bar. We've also had an article written about us in the Boston Herald as we are one of the only bars outside the US to have Harpoon.
We are also the only bar to specialise in beer alone. We don't serve wine or spirits (apart from an amazing Rogue Brewery single malt whiskey!
How glad are you going to be when DC finally opens its doors, given you've had a pretty long 'gestation' period and the launch has been held off for a while?
We were very glad to be open to let everyone in on all the amazing beer we have been sourcing for the last couple of years, but now the hard work starts to keep the beers coming.
Granted that you won't want to say too much about any surprises you may have in store, but are there going to be any exciting developments or new beers coming to your premises that we won't have seen in the city or the UK?
We have Magic Rock, Unhuman Cannonball launch coming up (which will be on the Tuesday, 12th April). We've also got 4 US breweries, never been seen in the UK launching in the bar this year.
Is there going to be any particular focus on beer style at Dead Crafty? (For example, we understand there's going to be no cask lines)
We will have a style that suits everyone’s taste. I think it's important to always have a selection of styles on tap at any one time.
Seeing the (almost) finished article put together, has it been worth all the work, arduous travelling to build a network and tasting a lot of beer?
This has been one of the hardest things we have ever took on but both pulling from our different backgrounds we have managed to build a bar that represents us and now delivering amazing beer and atmosphere.
Was there any temptation to deviate from doing just a bar - no thought given to opening a brewpub/brewtap, producing your own beers as well?
Our expertise lie in drinking not brewing! However, the whole team will be brewing seasonal brews with Melwood Brewery. This is something the staff will be proud of when selling their own beer.
Was there ever any worry about the location and your keg offerings, given Dale Street is home to a corridor to a lot of cask ale favourite drinking dens?
I think Dale Street is the perfect place for us. The Road is known as ‘Beer Street’ and we fit right at home here. Dale Street has really developed over the last year, especially now Rigby's have embraced craft beer. I don't see it as a hindrance being in a cask ale area, I see it as an opportunity to broaden people’s horizons. In the 2 weeks we've been open we only been asked for cask a handful of times and each person has enjoyed a keg beer instead.
Thanks so much to Gareth and Vicky for their time and efforts in getting this article together for Dead Crafty Beer Company. See you in there soon!
Dead Crafty Beer Company