Mothership, Cuckoo brewery
Posted on September 01 2019
This all-female brewery won Raise The Bar (the annual industry spotlight on the most exciting up-and-coming new breweries) in less than 2 months of them starting the business!
‘Born’ in 2019, Mothership is our youngest feature brewery to date. It has certainly earned its place. Less than two months after launching, they won ‘Raise the Bar’ – a top industry award for the most exciting up and coming new brewery. And as founder Jane Frances LeBlond said, “from then on, there’s been no stopping us.”
The driving force for Jane is to produce “innovative seasonal beer collections with a social conscience.” Hence her twice-a-year charity beer release, where a donation from every can sold goes to a women’s charity. And through Mothership’s own success, Jane and the team hope to inspire and champion other women in brewing.
Only launched in 2019, it is early days for Mothership, but it’s been a long time in the making. Post school, Jane toyed with a career in wine making. It was more of a holiday job, in fact, at Kent’s renowned Chapel Down. It started that way, got her hooked, but finally she felt it was time to tear herself away and study Graphic Design at university.
She followed that path for 10 years or so, but always, niggling in the background, was a love of fermentation. She continued to dabble in it with a bit of home-brewing/fermentation – sloe gin, wine. Then six years ago, she bought a beer home-brewing kit for her husband … and watched it slowly go past its ‘use-by date’. If he wasn’t going to use it, she would, even if she wasn’t much of a beer drinker (at that time). And that’s how it started. “Really quickly I got into developing my own recipes and making beers that I thought I might like. It was a time when Craft Beer was only just taking off” – it certainly wasn’t as prevalent as it is today. Some of her beers she liked, some were a disaster, but whatever, she loved the whole process and was soon handing it out to friends. It was fun.
Then children came along, and priorities changed. Yet, in a way, brewing became even more important, Jane says, to retain a sense of her own self. By then, she’d left her job as a freelance graphic designer, but wanted that flexibility of work again. That and something she could feel proud of. During that time of babies, feeding in the middle of the night, there was plenty of time for thinking … ideas blossomed, one of which was Mothership.
Jane read lots of blogs during her planning phase. She came across Double-Barrelled (one quite local to us at Brew Republic) and saw how they’d launched at Craft Beer Rising. Great story, great idea … she did the same. And with equal success. It all seemed such perfect timing, by chance emailing the organisers the day before they were launching the stand availability … as though it was all predestined. What’s more, her Mothership beers had a great reception from punters and, typical of the camaraderie of the industry, the organisers were enormously supportive. She was even asked to host a discussion at one of the sessions, which helped to promote the brand further. Brewing hasn’t stopped since.
There is no actual Mothership brewery site – they are a ‘cuckoo brewer’, renting space and kit from other friendly brewers. It works well for now. Perhaps, one day, with growth, Jane will take the plunge and put down roots. Meanwhile, she’s happy planning a taproom in Peckham, close to home, with a pilot kit there for experimentals. And, like her brewing, Jane seems to work non-stop! Busy emailing and updating social media between mashing and lautering.
Big and bold is their motto in beer styles – this is Jane’s preference. If you can only have one beer a night (advisable, she finds, when raising small children), make sure it’s one that counts!
We asked Jane who inspired her most in the early phase. She cites some of today’s big names in brewing – Jaega Wise of Wild Card Brewery, Sophie De Ronde of Burnt Mill, Jenn Merrick, formerly of Beavertown and now heading up her own Earth Station. Jane reels off a number more – women who have stood up for women in brewing and promoting the belief of “I can do”. With her beer heritage, perhaps that should come naturally. A few generations back, there is apparently a Whitbread in the family. Jane might not want to aim that large, but her beers are well worth seeking out. Right now, she’s topping up her on-the-job knowledge with a few beer sommelier exams – last module coming up. Then she’ll have an even broader brewing knowledge to draw upon. It’s so typical of Jane and her ‘can do’ attitude that has proved an inspiration to both men and women in the brewing field, and far beyond.
Good luck, Jane! Thanks for sharing a beer with us and we look forward to tasting more of your delicious brews soon!