Umbrella Brewing - As Told by Smitty's

Matthew Armitage is the one-man-band of alcoholic ginger beer. When we go to visit him in the Umbrella Brewing warehouse on Holloway Road he is on the phone to the forklift truck repairman, and it becomes clear that Matthew is the brains behind everything that goes on here.

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‘The team is a team of one, myself. I have some directors who invested in my idea of making an alcoholic ginger beer. There are 4 directors, and the brewer, me. I’m the brewer and the director and the delivery driver and the salesman and the cleaner.’

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Having officially launched their alcoholic ginger beer just last year, Umbrella Brewing is the new kid on the block, but is already making waves with its unique approach and artisanal product. They produce alcoholic ginger beer in small batches using only natural ingredients.

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‘It’s very fiery, not too sweet, made in the best possible way. Using natural and fresh ingredients, no extracts, no powdered acids or anything like that. The difference between us and other brands out there is our care and attention, it’s quite costly to use fresh lemons and fresh ginger. We put a lot of effort in to make sure it’s delicious.’

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Matthew has big plans for the future of Umbrella Brewing, with a new cider in development and expansion on the horizon. For the last few months, he’s been researching apples and cider production before he embarks on his own recipe testing process.


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‘We’re really small at the moment, as soon as we get known by a few more people things will get a bit more comfortable and we’ll get more time to experiment with more new and interesting things. It’s quite a rollercoaster, some days you have really good news, and other days your forklift breaks and it’s more difficult.’

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Despite Umbrella Brewing’s size, they are keen collaborators and use the platform of their bottle labels to showcase artists and brands they work with.


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‘The idea with the labels is that there a collaboration space to work with different artists and designers. It gives those designers a medium to display their work and we thought it would be great to work with cool people doing cool things.’

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‘The initial runs were done in house by our own designer Steve, and were based on old Decca record sleeves. We did some Trojan record inspired ones too. We did another one with the food magazine Foodism, and with Dead Rabbit in New York. They have a comic book theme so we did a couple of comic booked themed things with them to commemorate a takeover they did at the Sun Tavern.’

Matthew’s business partners also own the Discount Suit Company in Spitalfields and the Sun Tavern in Bethnal Green, but for this master brewer there’s only one real aim: ‘to make the best alcoholic ginger beer in the world’.

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