Cycling and craft ale enthusiast Scott Povey launches The Fixed Wheel Brewery in Blackheath
"Born to ride, born to brew" - that's the motto cycling and beer enthusiast Scott Povey lives his life by.
The record-breaking time trialist has successfully combined his two greatest passions to create Fixed Wheel Brewery.
Around five years ago he took a leap of faith by saying goodbye to life in the car industry after many years spent working as an auto technician for Vauxhall and setting up his own micro-brewery.
From a 2,000 sq ft unit on Blackheath's Long Lane Trading Estate, Scott and his busy team now produce a range of beers from hoppy pale ales to the super dark and rich stouts.
And they also invite drinkers to go behind the scenes of the brewing process and enjoy a pint or two at their on-site own taproom.
It all started when the 39-year-old, who runs the business with his partner Sharon Bryant, got a taste for ale during trips to Europe and began making his own at home.
"I never really used to drink a lot but during the cycling off-season, we would take trips to Belgium and that’s where I caught the bug for beer.
"I started home-brewing, first with kits and then started experimenting.The first one was dreadful but you soon get a feel for what works and what doesn’t.
“I was doing that for 10 years before I got fed up with the motor trade and got a job at Green Duck Brewery where I was able to learn the ropes. It gave me the confidence to set up on my own and Fixed Wheel Brewery was born,” Scott, who set two British records for 50 and 100 mile time trials, tells us.
And it's been a promising start with the brewery increasing production from 16 brewers barrels, the equivalent of 2617 litres, to 48 barrels, or 7,824 litres.
"We brew three times a week. The majority of what we sell is casks but do so sell by kegs and bottles.We are growing year on year and we are building a reputation for quality beers.
"What makes our beers special is the process we use because it’s our own and a fine-tuned process and the ingredients we use.
"We don’t don’t skimp on the ingredients. If you want produce quality beers you need to use quality ingredients.
"We don’t rush the process, we take our time to make sure it’s perfect every time. We want to make the best beers possible," Scott tells us.
He says one ingredient that is especially important when brewing beer is the profile of the water. "It's vital to have good water. We add different salts to the water to get the desired taste.
"The water affects the taste of the hops and how the yeast will perform. You can make beer without messing about with the water but you won't make good beer. At first it’s trial and error but after a while putting a recipe together becomes second nature," say Scott.
During the past four years, the team has produced around 150 different beers and they keep an eye on what's popular with drinkers when developing new additions to their range.
"The majority of our pale beers are made with American hops as that’s what’s on trend now. We try to keep up with what people are looking for and cater for that," says Scott, who has previously raced for Shirley Roads Club and Warwickshire Road Club as well as Drag2Zero.
But he says there can be challenges when making beer such as the price of key ingredients soaring. "Thankfully the price of hops has come down this year, last year it was a bit of a struggle because they were very expensive. We want to make the beers we want to make but we need to hit the right profit margins too. There must have been a good harvest because thankfully the price has fallen now," Scott explains.
As well as the name of his business being inspired by his love of cycling, the vast majority of the beers have names inspired by the sport such as Chain Reaction and No Brakes
His beers have received many accolades including the brewery's Blackheath Stout which won a bronze award in the stout category of CAMRA’s Champion Winter Beer of Britain 2018.
"Blackheath Stout has been a lucky one for us. There are milestones for brewers - when you have brewed 50 times and when you have brewed100 times - both have these have been with Blackheath Stout," he tells us.
The taphouse is open from 4pm until 10pm on Fridays and from 11am until 10pm on Saturdays. While the brewery is also open for tours on Sundays between 12pm and 3pm.
"With a micro brewery it’s essential to have that cash flow straight into the business rather than waiting to be paid all the time.People enjoy being able to see where what they are drinking has been produced so it has a novelty factor too," says Scott.
He tells us he's pleased that the popularity of micro-breweries doesn't appear to be waning and more continue to open their days up and down the country all the time. In fact, the craft beer revolution has seen the number of breweries in the UK surpass 2,000 – the highest since the 1930s.
"The more micro-breweries there are out there, the more choice there is for the consumer and the more ideas there are being shared.
"Setting up a micro-brewery has been more than I ever expected. It is all consuming but it’s also a lot of fun. I enjoy meeting people and that there is so much variety as well as the physical work. There is always something new going on and something new to learn. We never stop learning.
"What is nice about this industry is that although really we are all competitors, breweries all talk to one another and help each other. It's a very friendly industry to work in," says Scott.
*To find out about brewery tours see www.fixedwheelbrewery.co.uk