Green & Pleasant
Julia Jarvis meets founder Fleur Emery
Fleur Emery has an infectious bubbliness that is as charming as her dog, a pug called Mr Beebe, and, come to think of it, her latest project. With a background in start-up culture, Fleur's expertise is championing and supporting British creativity.
Her latest venture is Green & Pleasant, a natural lager, and its lower alcohol counterpart, Lemon Shandy, made in collaboration with the independent craft beer-makers, Freedom, based in rural Staffordshire.
Why beer? What inspired you to start Green & Pleasant?
What I noticed was that all the brands of beer that I really loved were very strong, flat beer, which told me that all the people making incredible beer in the UK were all making extreme varieties. I looked around and thought, why is it that people like my dad are drinking imported lager, why isn't he drinking British? We're a nation of brewers, so why aren't we making our own lager here as well? So I went on mission to find out if anyone was, and if so, where they were making it.
Tell us more about the brewery you’re collaborating with for Green & Pleasant?
We started working with an amazing brewery called Freedom. They make their beer from water that comes from an ancient, natural spring that’s filtered through the hills. We looked at the farmland around the brewery and we felt it was a shame that people don't get to see this so we made a Visitors Centre.
We also put honey in the beer – we found this guy in Yorkshire who makes incredible honey, but then we decided to make our own, so now we're becoming beekeepers. At the moment I know about that much [gestures with a tiny pinch of her fingers] about keeping bees but in six weeks time we should have our own hives.
So it's not just about selling beer?
Green & Pleasant just grew, instead of normal brewery, it turned into a creative project, a collaboration where the sales of the beer creates the money, and the money goes into supporting these people we get excited about. Typically, they are people who practise heritage crafts or emerging, creative, talent; the people who find it hard to get support. What I really like supporting is makers' work that isn't obviously commercial, so those people focusing on the work and not focusing too much on the commercial aspect. We give them beer, occasionally we give them money and sometimes we actually manage them.
We have a photographer, David McLean, who we just loved
but didn’t know how to help, and what we worked out eventually was that he needed an agent, so we help people in different ways.
What's been the most rewarding part of the process?
You know, the making is done by our partnership, so I can't really claim any credit but I can claim credit for finding them. You'll know this from your work – the amazing thing about
this country is that it is full of people who make beautiful things but are just terrible marketeers. I'm a marketeer by nature and I love brands. Britain is full of people making things, oblivious to the outside world and this is what was happening at this brewery in this beautiful valley with this natural spring water. Absolute beer-heads who are making new recipes; they love what they are doing, without the commerciality to really reach out.
Ok, so final question, what's your ideal location and drinking partner for Green & Pleasant?
There's a pub in Dorset called the Square & Compass, in a village called Worth Matravers. It's a stone village, an old stone pub. They have a massive open fire and all these people who play Squeezebox spontaneously. There are a lot of dogs, there are pies, they play Shove ha'penny and actually have a fossil museum inside the pub. It's by the Jurassic Coast, by a beautiful walk. I particularly love the Dorset coast, it’s really accessible, really beautiful and a pie at the Square & Compass at the end
of the walk is great!
And ideal drinking partner?
There is a maker that I'm quite obsessed with at the moment, his name is William Welstead. He was a jeweller and he's become a weaver. He weaves really fine cashmere on old restored looms. I’ve had mine [a shawl] for about three years and wear it every day. It is so fine, it's like having a cloud around you. There's hardly any information about him so it would be
a discovery to meet him!
Green & Pleasant kindly sponsored Hole & Corner’s
recent residence in St James's