To the Mountains, and Back
Alepine Beer is bringing pale ale to the Alps, shaking up the mountain’s lager-drinking ways. And, its appearance in Soho-favourite Archer Street Bar, helps to cement its reputation off the mountains as well
Article by Izzy Ashton
Brewed in the UK for the Alps is how the tagline goes. And the Alps is what it’s been made for. But, for the first time, the tables have turned and Alepine Beer has popped up on the flatlands of London, just in time for the Christmas season.
Heading down to the basement of Archer Street bar in Soho for the beer’s London launch, the aprés-ski atmosphere of the room suits the beer down to a T. Crates of Alepine bottles decorated the tables, while pots of ChicP (the latest delicious humus brand on the scene who, incidentally, make all their humus from surplus vegetables) adorned every surface.
One of the latest on the ever-growing beer scene, Alepine Beer was set up by David Holme in a bid to bring an American-style pale ale to the Alps. After embarking on a 4,000-mile bike ride with his cousin Elliot across America, and raising over $20,000 for Alzheimer’s charities along the way, David discovered he had a penchant for American beer. Pale, hoppy and “far too drinkable”, he decided to try and recreate it in the UK and so, Alepine was born.
The beer is brewed in the UK but is a move away from the mainstream lagers enjoyed by most on the slopes. Alepine aims to provide a “refreshing alternative to the mainstream mass produced lagers that have dominated the ski industry for decades”. And this they have done, in spades. But Alepine are not only concentrating on the beer.
When David first came up with the idea, he knew that he wanted Alepine to be about much more than just a beer. Once he established himself on the mountain scene, and people were starting to hear about and drink the beer, he set out to create “more than the liquid”.
So now, before every launch party in the mountains, Alepine provides a free lecture on avalanche awareness and mountain safety from some of the local guides, preparing skiers for the season to come. They have also invested in avalanche safety kit which they lend to skiers who can’t afford the gear but wish to ski safely off-piste. David believes that “the ski industry is too stale,” and so is aiming to shake it up, through the medium of a good beer.
For David, the Alps was a no brainer in terms of destination: “The UK is full of great beer – the Alps has nothing in comparison. Alepine exists to make the best experiences of skiing even better”. As the London beer market becomes ever more saturated by niche breweries and similar tasting lagers, Alepine provided the Alps, and now London, with a refreshing alternative. And people are enjoying the alternative.
Found everywhere from Val D’Isere to Morzine and Meribel, Alepine looks set to be across Switzerland, Austria, Germany and Italy by the end of 2017. For those of us who can’t make it out to the mountains, or who have no desire to, Archer Street is the place to find Alepine, as well as in the Archer Street Christmas pop-up in Harvey Nichols department store.
Moving around the room in Archer Street, what is apparent is how enjoyably different the beer is to any others. It has none of the unpleasant woodiness of many a cheap larger and nor does it have the heaviness of a darker ale. It is the ideal balance, perfectly suited to a day on the slopes but also to a chilly, winter’s evening in the city.
Of course running a beer company isn’t all plain sailing as David is quick to point out, offering advice to young entrepreneurs: “focus on the end goal – prepare to spend a shed load of money and time on it – then stay focused towards the end goal some more”. A small business owner he may be but Holme isn’t waiting around for something to happen.
He does admit however that working on the mountains comes with its own perks. Whilst the rest of us are (yet again) queuing outside one of London’s ridiculously overcrowed tube stations or running for the last bus, David says “the best thing is being able to say ‘fuck it’ when you are fed up and clip the skis in and crack on to the mountain”.
Nonetheless David’s business always comes first and, with 20 per cent of all company profits made going back into the mountain to support ski-related charities, this is a man who has created a company that is so much more than just a beer.
Enquiries: Alepine Beer / stocked at Archer Street Bar, Archer Street pop up (5th Floor Harvey Nichols), Enoteca de Luca (St Paul’s & Old Street) and Bodo’s Schloss (Kensington) / firstname.lastname@example.org / www.alepine.co.uk