American craft brewery in Eye to expand this spring

Raz n Hell beer from Station 119. Picture: Sophie Matsell

Raz n Hell beer from Station 119. Picture: Sophie Matsell - Credit: Archant

More barrels and tap room tastings coming to Station 119.

An independent brewery was recently inadvertently caught up in a sexism row.

The team at Station 119, launched in Eye last November, had no idea their labelling (depicting pin-ups from the noses of planes flying out of a nearby airfield in WWII) could be thought of as offensive when they created their unique branding.

Having been caught up in the fury of Twitter, the friends behind the bottles of craft American beer have stripped their labelling back – and are getting ready to expand this spring.

“The history behind our branding,” says Marc Medland, who runs the business with Elliot Norris and Steven and Jo Matsell, “is that it’s connected to WWII airfields and servicemen, and our beers are made using American hops. Global issues regarding sexism have filtered through to the beer industry and it has become a big conversation

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“There’s been a lot of moves to ban beers from craft beer festivals and CAMRA festivals that have what is perceived to be sexism on their labels. Customers became nervous to take us on as a brand, and we were then targeted on Twitter by a few beer writers. Essentially the conversation got too loud for us.

“We always felt we were on the right side of the line because of the history of the branding, but it started to affect sales.”

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A decision was made to remove the pin-up girls from Station 119’s branding and labelling, replacing them (for the time being) with brushstroke colours.

But the furore hasn’t affected the morale of the team, or the growth of their business. In fact, Station 119 has invested in new equipment to increase its capacity from two to 12 barrels at the end of March, when a series of open events will be planned for beer lovers in the tap room.

The team’s also been experimenting with new brews and will be inviting freehold landlords to try them (and the rest of the range) in April, before launching to the public in May.

Station 119 is part of a new wave of British brewers, riding on the coattails of the success of the craft brewing industry in America, which has exploded beyond all expectations.

Following a trip to the States’ west coast, where brewery tap rooms are big business, Station 119 set down roots in Elliot’s kitchen before realising they were onto a good thing, investing in premises in Eye.

The brand’s signature beer, No Guts, No Glory, can be described as hoppy and full-bodied with a bite of citrus from Galena, Centennial, Cascade and Chinook hops.

At 5% ABV, pale ale Heart Breaker is the bestseller, brewed with Bravo, Simcoe and Cascade hops.

And it might look like it’s only for beer aficionados, but jet black IPA Miss Behavin’ is, says Elliot “very dry and clean in flavour, with hop and coffee notes. It doesn’t have that sweet stoutness you get with porters and it tends to surprise people. Some say they don’t like stout, but they try this and really like it.”

You can find the beers at The Swan, Hopsters and Aqua Eight in Ipswich, The Angel in Woodbridge, The Grundisburgh Dog and the Sweffling White Horse.

The team will also be out in force at Framlingham Country Show on April 7 and 8, Suffolk Show, War and Peace at the end of July and loads of beer festivals. Find out more information on the Facebook page @station119 or online where landlords and members of the public can get in touch and be part of the upcoming events.

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