Episode 107: East Meets West [with Vocation Brewery & Gweilo Beer UK]

Hop Forward: Getting You Ahead in the Brewing and Beer Business

Apr 22 2021 • 55 mins

I first became aware of Vocation Brewery on a warm summer’s drive to Stamford in 2015.  As we passed The Green Man pub on the edge of the town, I saw an A-board sporting a design that reminded me of The Eye of Ra.  I took particular notice of it because in my post-college days, I had been in a band with a similar looking logo.

This was one of my first interactions with the brewery, though it would take me several years before I actually tried any of their delicious beers.

John Hickling, who worked in IT for a bank, set up Vocation in 2015, rebuilding an old chicken shed into a brewhouse, which now outputs 50 HL per year, making one of the largest independent craft breweries in the UK.

Not only does the outdoor walkway along the top of their fermentors offer stunning views of the cascading hills of West Yorkshire’s Cragg Vale, the vantage point sees off beers like Love & Hate and Pride & Joy across the UK and waves bon voyage to their flagship brands as they head overseas.

In addition to a canning and bottling line, the brewery have recently expanded its exports to the far east through an unlikely partnership...

Tired of the corporate world with a similar story to John, Ian Jebbitt - a trademark solicitor by vocation - founded Gweilo Beer in Hong Kong with his wife Emily and friend Joseph Gould to create fun, fresh, natural, unpasteurised beers for the people of Hong Kong and Asia to enjoy.

Back by a team of hard-working, fun-loving professionals, Gwelio has already found its way into many corners of the world in taphouses, hotels, airlines and supermarket shelves and is expanding its brand with a brew-in-market model.

Partnering with Vocation to produce their core range, as well as working with other independent craft brewers for one-off collaborations, Gweilo Beer UK was established under the Commercial Directorship of Sean Robertson, a long time veteran of the brewing industry.

In this episode, East meets West as myself, Sean and Vocation’s Sales Director, John Hadingham, discuss the partnership between the two breweries across the globe.  Our round table discussion covers everything from brew-in-market models, exporting brands to other territories, the growth of the breweries, and how relationships are forged and managed to allow each brand to remain distinctive, despite being brewed in one location.

Please note, at points the audio quality drops in and out a little; I’ve done everything I can in order to clean it up as much as possible, but I think you’ll agree that it’s a fantastic discussion.


Support for this episode comes from Lallemand Brewing.

Lallemand Brewing, a division of Lallemand Inc., a global producer of yeast and bacteria, is helping breweries achieve their growth and quality goals by offering products, services, and education.

Lallemand Brewing’s premium brewing yeasts and bacteria deliver unmatched consistency, reliability, and purity, allowing brewers to take full control of the brewing process.

At the forefront of innovation, Lallemand Brewing recently launched several dry yeast products: LalBrew Voss, LalBrew Verdant IPA, and WilBrew Philly Sour.

For more information about Lallemand products in the UK please contact our local representative Andrew Paterson, global contacts details for the UK and other territories can be found via our website www.lallemandbrewing.com

Find out more from Hop Forward and our partners…

Don't forget to check out Beer of the Week in partnership with Brewery Market: Independent Beer Retailer of the Year 2021 in the Drinks Retailing Awards