Full name: Jesse Wilson
Birthplace: Isleworth, London
Fun Fact: Great Uncle was a Head Brewer
Full name: Tom Jordan
DOB: 26. 03. 1993
Birthplace: Truro, Cornwall
Fun Fact (about them): My Dad is called Michael Jordan
Jack: So, let’s start at the beginning. Two best friends who discovered the tasty tradition of ‘demi-pêche’ whilst skiing in the alps. You decided to make 5000 bottles and, if they all sold, quit your jobs and go all in. It did, and you did – and so here we are. But let’s go back further. How did you first meet, and what were your formative years like? Were you both always destined for a career in brewing, and what were you doing prior to Jubel?
Jesse: Beer was fairly key to how we met which was during Freshers Week at University. If you told us back then that we’d be running a business together now I don’t think we would’ve believed you but it’s not surprising really.
Tom’s entrepreneurial spark started at an early age buying and selling ice creams to tourists along Cornwall’s beaches and beer has been a strong theme in my family as Dad was a broker for breweries, Grandad ran pubs, and my Great Uncle was a Head Brewer. After we graduated, I joined Mars on their grad scheme and Tom was at the FTSE.
We both shared a lack of love for our corporate jobs and a few pints at the pub was enough dutch courage to agree to create the beer style we wanted to drink that no one brewed.
What exactly is demi-pêche, anyway? Could you give us a little more of an insight into what it is so special about it? Must be serious stuff considering you both overhauled your lives to build a business around the idea!
Tom: it’s a delicious Alpine beer tradition of lager & peach that we discovered at an après ski bar and quickly noticed how popular it was in all the bars in the Alps. It combined the refreshment of a fruit cider with the ‘sessionability’ of a crisp lager and it became the beer style we wanted to drink that no one was brewing.
Did either/both of you have a history in homebrew prior to starting the business? You seem to have gone pretty far, pretty quickly. I would have thought that the learning curve would have taken longer!?
Jesse: we had absolutely zero experience and one Chemistry GCSE between us. It took 18 months to learn the art of brewing lager and a lot of fine-tuning to develop Jubel, but we worked with the UK’s twice-awarded Brewer of the Year which turned our stupid questions into sensible suggestions and helped craft the perfect balance.
What’s a ‘day in your life’ like? Could you give us an insight into the beer business?
Tom: I look after all things sales so make sure we’ve got the wholesalers on board to supply the pubs who want our beer and once we’re in, do stuff to get pub goers drinking Jubel.
Jesse looks after operations, finance and marketing so makes sure we don’t run out of beer, don’t run out of cash, don’t get in trouble with HMRC and make sure a few more people know about Jubel today than they did yesterday.
What’s your greatest/most memorable professional moment been, so far?
Jesse: probably when both our beers won World Beer Awards. We entered our beers pretty speculatively and when we got an email with the results, the link didn’t work so we assumed we didn’t win anything.
We had a few people getting in touch saying congrats on the awards so we phoned up and they told us both our beers had been chosen as the UK Country Winner for their beer style. We weren’t sure whether to believe them or not, we thought it was probably our mates playing a trick on us.
That was huge for us and a real vote of confidence as we’ve been relentless about tweaking the smallest things like pH balance, types of malt, gravity and hop selection to get to what we felt was the perfect liquid.
Where do you get your ideas?
Tom: Travelling always leads to great ideas – there’s loads to learn from different cultures and the whole idea for Jubel came from an overseas adventure. On a more day to day level I would say fairly unconventional places; I actually get some of my best ideas in the shower and Jess gets his when he’s on a run.
We just try and keep our finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the industry and keeping our eyes open to things that could spark ideas whilst we’re out and about – ideas seem to come from anywhere if you’re clear on what sort of idea could be right for the brand.
What’s your philosophy, summed up in a sentence?
Jesse: pioneer a new style of beer. There are some great beers out there but everyone seems to be brewing hoppy IPAs so our mission is to be more adventurous with an off-piste and unique beer style that creates a new category.
Whether they like it or not, the most common thing people tell us is that they’ve never tried anything else like Jubel. That’s exactly where we want to be, we want to be different enough to be worth talking about.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had, how did you overcome it, and what did you learn from it?
Tom: after we’d sunk our savings into a big brew, they flew at a festival so we escaped our 9-5s and jumped in full-time. Was a fairly rash call looking back on it as we didn’t have any money to start a business so we spent 8 unpaid months working out how to actually start a proper business.
We didn’t even know what duty was so we had a lot to learn but got through it, raised the investment and cracked on. Think the biggest thing we learned was don’t stop asking all the stupid questions until you get to a point where you feel confident you know what you’re talking about.
Who’s the person who’s most inspired you in your work? Is there anyone that you draw inspiration or strength from, or do you have any specific influences?
Jesse: my Dad has been a real influence on me, he left his job as a high flying broker to become a vicar and didn’t just do what was expected of him but was bold enough to take a risk and follow his heart.
Tom: My Dad and Step-Dad inspire me entrepreneurially having both built successful businesses off their own backs. I then draw strength for what I do from a few brilliant ladies in my life; My mum, my partner and my mentor (in no particular order of course!)
What do you enjoy most and least about what you do?
Jesse: it’s unreal working with a best mate and every day is different, challenging, fun. I used to get the Sunday blues and dread work on a Monday but I absolutely love working on Jubel.
On the flipside it’s all hands on deck in a startup so we’ve done a lot of stuff ourselves because we can’t afford to pay someone else. Last summer we made our own point of sale for pubs and almost passed out from the spray paint fumes, had a headache for about a week afterwards.
Tom: I love how social the beer/drinks industry is – most people are more than happy to meet for a beer, share some advice and help where they can – it’s also a pretty good excuse to have a beer on a Monday night if its work related!
There is also a wicked sense of discovery to the sales side of the job – it takes you to all parts London (and the country) that you wouldn’t necessarily visit in search of the next up and coming drinking experience / venue.
Love it or hate it, the on-trade is a fiercely competitive and busy environment, which can be a frustrating beast at times. Sometimes It can take months to build strong relationships to find the next time you visit the manager has moved on! But its all part of the beauty of the industry.
What advice would you give to aspiring professional brewers who’d want the kind of results that you’ve had?
Jesse: I don’t think either of us are qualified to be giving anyone advice [Ed: so modest!] but if we were starting Jubel today I’d just focus on nailing the product and making sure it’s the best beer you could possibly brew. It’s easy to get someone trying something once but the real challenge is getting the brew spot on to get them buying it over and over again.
If you weren’t doing what you do now, what would you be doing instead?
Tom: Work is such a big part of life so I know that we would both be being doing something we love, and although I’m not exactly sure what it would be, it wouldn’t be working for a big corporate. We both found it pretty safe and boring – we wanted to take a bit of a risk on something we knew we’d enjoy whether it worked out or not.
If you could get anyone to try your beers (fictional or real, living or dead) who would you pick and which of the beers would you like them to try? Assume that they go on to be your brand ambassador…
Jesse: I’d probably say Candide Thovex, what a legend. He just cracks on doing risky ski stunts for the thrill of the adventure. He’s a bit of an Alpine hero so we’d have to give him a fresh pour of Jubel Alpine on draught.
Anything I missed that you’d like to include here? (include as much or as little as you’d like)
Tom: We’ve had a pretty big win recently that we’re buzzing about and would be rude not to share – we’ve managed to pick up a national listing with Sainsbury’s launching in November!
They approached us having heard how we were disrupting the category and seemed to like what we’re all about as they’re putting us straight into 600+ stores which is huge for us! Was all a bit of a whirlwind, one minute we had an email asking for a meeting and the next we had a national listing.
And we always ask three customary ridiculous questions…
If you were both made Kings of the World, what would your first three decrees be?
Jesse: 1) four day working weeks – no one gets anything done on a Friday and people spend too much of their lives in offices, 2) get serious about how to turn around the damage we do to our planet, 3) ensure everyone has access to clean drinking water – it’s mad and upsetting how many people still don’t
If you had a time machine that could send you backward in time as far as you wanted (without any logical paradoxes, timeline contamination, etc.) – what period of time would you visit and what are the first 3 things you’d do once you got there?
Tom: Prohibition in the 1920s would’ve been a hell of a time to kick off a beer brand. Bit risky but the thrill of it would’ve been classic. First three things we’d do would be:
- Knock up a hidden brewery
- Brew and bootleg Jubel
- Create a network of underground speakeasies and throw some wild knees-ups
If you were forced to live on one kind of food for the rest of your life (assume that your metabolism becomes specifically adapted to use this as your sole source of calories, so you had to eat this to survive) – which would you pick, and why?
Jesse: Raclette – it’s an Alpine favourite, reminds us of skiing and is absolutely delicious. We’re regulars at Alpes in POP Brixton which is the only place doing it properly in London and they also happen to sell a decent amount of our beer there.