In the first of a new series of ‘Channel Eye Chats’, sponsored by the Santander Work Café, today we meet Matt Topman from the Stinky Bay Brewery Company.
Jersey islander Matt launched the Stinky Bay Brewery Company in 2017.
How did you get started?
I was inspired to start brewing just by drinking beer! I was into craft beer and went from there. I thought that maybe I don’t know how hard is it to make beer – it turns out it’s a little tricky, but you get the hang of it in the end.
Where did the name ‘Stinky Bay’ come from?
The name Stinky Bay popped-up when we were just throwing around local names. We wanted a local name to really ground it here, that’s where we’re from and where we make the beer. We didn’t want to go with something super cheesy – we were bouncing ideas around and ended up with Stinky Bay.
I actually grew up down there – my parents lived down there – so if you know where the bay is, it kind of makes sense and even if you don’t, there’s a little bit of a ‘precedent’ for naughty brewery names, so it just works.
Looking after our environment
We do as much as we can to be eco-friendly and use less materials. I think we are one of the most water-efficient breweries I know.
We try to use less packaging whenever we can. It’s not always easy, especially being on an island and having to ship-in a lot of our supplies A good examples is the grain that all goes to a farm and gets eaten by the cows. The hops go to manure and is spread on the fields – they’re really good fertilizer .
Generally we try and recycle everything we can. Card packaging, any pallet wrap that comes in – every little piece we can.
Our labels are all paper now, so even if it goes a little soggy in the fridge, it’s not much of a price to pay for not using plastic.
Tell us about Sven
Sven’s our little mascot. He’s right here – he’s the seaweed man. If you don’t know why Stinky Bay is called Stinky Bay, it’s because of all the kelp that piles up and rots through the winter and it really stinks! We thought he’s perfect for our Stinky Baby little mascot – he just happened to be on all of our beers and products.
We always put him in there somewhere – on Stinky Bay he’s kind of popping up on the beach, kicking back in a deck chair. On our Shipwrecked beer, he’s in a rocket going to space.
if I had to have a a battle with any of the little Stinky Bay caricatures, I’d probably least likely want to do it with the seagull; he looks quite friendly but I’m sure he’s quite aggressive!
What do you love about Jersey?
Jersey is pretty epic. I look at different places and just ended up back here, probably the people in the community. We’ve maybe not got the world’s best anything, but we’ve got everything and that’s what I love about it. There’s never something never a day when you’ve got nothing to do.
Tell us about your charity and community work
We try and get involved with charities and good causes wherever we can. Actually from the start since when we set up, I always had it in my head that I wanted to donate one percent of our turnover to good causes and charities
I didn’t want to make it specifically charities, because we’ve done things like give some money to somebody who’s cycling around the world and he fed street dogs. Recently we did a collaboration with the Healing Waves Charity – we made a beer for them and they got a percentage of the turnover. We also were lucky enough to be able to donate to them.
Not so long ago, we also helped the RNLI Jersey. Colin the Lifeboat Man who collects in St Catherine’s has had a quiet year and I’m really proud to be able to donate to him £500 pounds. We’ve been a successful business because we’ve been able to help these people.
What else would you like to do?
I’d love to open up maybe not a pub, but a tap room. I’d really like to one day get a site for the brewery where on Friday and Saturdays we can just stick out some trestle tables and have a few beers. Something pretty informal, maybe even get people mucking in and helping if they want for a few beers. Something like that, that’s really community based and small.
I probably won’t go and open a tap room anytime soon as I’m just a bit busy for that.
If you had the time to practise, what would it be?
If I had to have 10,000 hours of practice in anything, oddly it would probably be playing piano. I’m not musical and always look at people who can play music with awe, but then if I knew how to play, I might lose that awe.
What would you like to like to be stuck on a desert island with?
Barley hops and yeast – then I can make beer!
If I can only take three things, I would take a knife, a lighter and a holdall with lots of things in it.
If I was to sponsor an event, it would probably be something like an adventure race. Some kayaking, some bike and some running – but at every pit stop you can’t have water you have to have a pint! I’m just waiting for the health and safety pass, I don’t know why…
What superpower would you like to have?
I think that if I were to have a superpower, it would be to be able to fill (beer) kegs with my mind. Filling kegs is pretty tedious really. Making the beer is fun but putting it in the kegs not as fun!
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