Brewheadz is run by a friendly team of four Italian friends (the only Italian run brewery in London). Vincenzo Conte (Sales & Marketing), Gianni Rotuno (Head Brewer), Stefano Rotuno (Brewer) and Giovanni Massa (Brewer) all grew up together in Fondi, on the Italian coast in between Rome and Naples.
Tottenham has the highest density of breweries in London after Bermonsey (there are now seven!) and we couldn’t resist having a chat with one of our locals. DT popped into Brewheadz brewery in a north Tottenham warehouse to have a chat with Vincenzo Conte.
How did it all start?
I started brewing five and a half years ago back in Italy and moved to London in December 2013. I’ve been best friends with Gianni since I was a kid, he moved to London a few years before me but we kept in touch. One day he told me that he was starting a home brew so I looked it up. I liked the idea a lot, joined a home brew course in Italy and started to brew beers with a friend. At the same time, Gianni and Giovanni were doing a home brew course at London Fields Brewery.
I moved in to Gianni’s house when I first got here, and Stefano joined us soon after. We all started to make beer at home together quite regularly. Every week we met each other for a drink and brewed beer on the weekend in Stefano and Gianni’s flat. From there, we started to take it more seriously and decided we wanted to do it professionally.
I started working in Brew Dog Camden and I got a chance to learn, visit other breweries and meet other people in the industry. In summer 2015 we decided to prepare the recipes and brewed them at home lots of times to perfect them. We moved into the brewery in May 2016.
We have four beers in our core range:
Electrobeat (American Pale Ale)
Kitchen Porter (Porter)
Fired Up Donkey (Red Rye IPA)
Sunny Side (Session IPA)
How much were you brewing at home?
We brewed about 18 to 20 litres each time for ourselves and our friends. Each time we improved the system – month by month. Brew by brew.
What was it like going from home brew to having your own brewery?
It’s beautiful, but also very tough. It’s not just about brewing, which we most enjoy, but also taking care of the business side.
It was our passion – it’s more than just a drink to us – and in London there is a big beer culture which has helped a lot.
What do you like most?
The process. The beer industry here is very friendly and open – you can collaborate with other breweries and learn from them.
What’s your favourite beer?
The first beer that got me to jump off my chair when I drank it was the Magic Rock Cannonball – a very hoppy IPA. I never liked lager or malty, boozey Belgian beers. When I discovered craft beer, I started to drink more. I didn’t drink to get drunk, but to experience the different tastes and flavours.
What’s your favourite Brewheadz beer?
Fired Up Donkey. The red rye IPA. It’s a very complex beer, caramel, spicey and hoppy.
Can you tell us a bit more about your specials?
One of our specials is a sour fruity beer, even if you are not into sour, tart and funky beers or you prefer cider, it’s a good first step into sours or craft beer. We release new specials every month.
What has the most influence on the flavour of the beer?
It starts with the grain. It’s usually malted barley or special grains like rye or wheat, roasted barley or caramel malts. Dry-roasted malted barley is used to brew porter – the process of roasting the grain creates chocolate notes. If the barley is cooked wet it creates caramel notes. With special grains, you shouldn’t use more than 20% otherwise you don’t have a good beer. 80% of the recipe is normal grains like pils, malted barley and wheat. You can play with these grains and adjust the flavours. It’s a lot like cooking.
You can also add additional flavours or ingredients after fermentation. This is when we add dried fruit or puree to make our sour beer. You can use anything – there is a brewery that makes a beer with burger and chips! You can add chemical fruit flavouring but we prefer to avoid this. It’s important to us to use natural ingredients.
Where can local people try your beer?
Our tap room is open every Saturday from 12pm – 8pm. What we try to do is make good beer, have fun and be different with the approach. What we want to create is very personal. When people visit the tap room they can have a chat and ask us about beer. We’re always willing to help and happy to explain.
You can also find our beer at:
The High Cross
Loven Pizzeria and Bakery
You also do food pairings – what can you recommend?
Spicey food goes with Fired Up Donkey (Red Rye IPA), the Kitchen Porter goes best with a steak or desert, and Electrobeat (American Pale Ale) or Sunny Side (Session IPA) go with pizza or anything really. You can also pair different cheeses with different beer.
Where do you get your inspiration for the names of the beers?
Fired Up Donkey comes from our home town. We say ‘the donkey goes on fire’ when there is a situation going on – good or bad. Someone is fighting over there: ‘look, the donkey is on fire over there’ or if you’ve been partying the night before – the club was amazing, lots of fun.
What are you most proud of?
When people visit us they see that the beer is good and that we’re friendly people. All the hard work we do pays off when we see people appreciate our beer.
You’ve also collaborated with other breweries…
We’ve collaborated with Affinity, who used to be based outside Five Miles (they’re now in Bermondsey), Wild Weather Brewery and Seven Sisters Brewery.
We’ll be releasing a beer with Brew Dog Seven Dials, in Covent Garden, for Collab Fest in October.
What are your plans for the future?
We’re aiming to increase production, improve our tap room and see what the new Spurs stadium brings. We’d also like to work with a distributor and grow the team.
Brewheadz taproom is open every Saturday from 12 – 8pm. Unit 16a, Rosebery Industrial Park, London, London N17 9SR.
You can try a bottle at our event at Idris Barbering Company on 6 September, free haircuts are available all evening and you’ll be able to pick up a free copy of DT issue 3 (Fashion & Beauty).