If you regularly read these pages you’ll know i love to showcase new and up and coming companies or people who are at the heart of gravel bikes or “real” cycling in general. STOHK are something different, they don’t build frames or make bike packing paraphernalia but they do ride bikes and more importantly they brew beer and their first batch, XPA 001 sold out quickly. Lots of people brew beer I hear you say but these guys are coming from a different direction and I noticed them because of the inspirational pictures and quotes on their instagram page. Inspiring people to ride is what UKgravelCO is all about too so I had to drop them a DM and see what it was all about. Gareth from STOHK was kind enough to answer my questions….
What’s the story behind Stohk, isn’t it a risk starting a hospitality related business right now?
Ha! Yes when you put it like that I guess so!! But then I don’t think we’d think of ourselves as a hospitality related business as such. More of an outdoor company that happens to be starting out making great beer.
The idea behind Stohk is something I’ve been thinking about for a fair time (but that’s a story for another day). Somewhere in between lockdown’s and long rides we just actually started throwing the conversation around the idea out there a bit more. And it just seemed to be more relevant than ever.
If this year has had any positive impacts on people it seems to be this increased energy to getting outdoors. That social distancing does not equal social isolation. That locked down doesn’t have to mean locked in.
There’s four of us over here at Stohk. A mix of long time friends and two brothers. We all share a love of the outdoors. Bikes. Big hills. Trail running. The ocean. All that stuff. And we really really know and love beer.
Equally for us, as much as the outdoor adventures themselves we just really love those moments when you hang out afterwards and shoot the shit with your mates.
That’s where we united around the idea of Stohk.
I’m sure your readers will know too that even the longest, toughest days out there can make for the best stories later. I think that for us, getting the most from an adventure or two and then celebrating the good times that come from them…well those moments and those stories are pretty special.
That’s where we’re starting out from. It’s definitely super early days. We’d probably still call ourselves pre-launch at the moment. But we’re pretty excited about the amazing response we’ve had so far and can’t wait to see if people like what we’ve got planned.
I think I can guess but why “Stohk”?
Yes Stohk is the international phonetic alphabet (IPA) spelling of stoke…so I guess there’s a little tongue in cheek play on words in there somewhere. We’re not here to take ourselves too seriously!
But we connect to and are in search of that euphoria, that happy exhaustion that you feel when you’ve just finished up after an epic day on the mountain or the trail. That moment where all the highs and lows of the day transition to become the stories of the day. And one word defines that feeling better than any other – stoke!
It’s definitely that feeling that inspired our little brand and it’s name.
With the current trend for micro breweries what makes Stohk stand out?
Fundamentally we don’t really think of ourselves as a brewery. More of an independent outdoor adventure brand. Yes we’re only just starting out, working out our route if you like. But we’d love to navigate a path towards being a brand that embraces people who are passionate about an outdoor lifestyle.
Beer as our first product might seem a bit strange in that context I know. But epic days outside deserve epic beer. 100% factual insight! Like many great things…beer just tastes better outdoors!
I’ve been working in the modern beer space for a while. In recent years as MD at amazing businesses like BrewDog and then Curious Brewing.
With Stohk though we’re brewing, field testing and developing a beer, Stohk XPA, with the single goal of it tasting unbelievably great outside.
Whether that’s after your first ride out on gravel, your first century, or when you and your pals are midway through taking on the badger divide…plotting your plans for the transcontinental…
We’re really focussed on it being a beer that we want to pass the ‘another one of those please’ test. Because we know that in these moments the storytelling has only just started and that the moment needs to live on. If we can play a small part in these moments with you we think that would be pretty cool..
Is the Tallboy your design & is it bottle cage compatible?
Ha! We’d love to claim the glory of the TallBoy but no…
A Tall Boy is basically a nickname for a big can of beer! We’ve just explored the market out there to find one that is made to last a lifetime and to seriously level up your perceived radness in the eyes of all your friends.
Given we aim to be an outdoor company. Not a beer company. Thinking about the environmental impact of what we do is really important to us. We’re working towards the longer term mission of ‘leave no trace’.
If we were just another craft brewer we’d just find a beer glass to stick our logo on (albeit we don’t have a logo yet!!) for people to drink our Stohk XPA from. It’d get put to the back of a cupboard. Smashed. Something else bought in its place.
But we wanted something that we could take with us outdoors and that was good enough for a lifetime of adventures and stories. Whether that’s to hold your end of adventure beer or your wild camping breakfast pre-ride coffee.
That’s why we chose to team up with the ace folk at MiiR in making the Stohk TallBoy. MiiR make amazing stainless steel drinking vessels and they set aside a portion of their revenue to fund positive impact environmental projects. So they were a really cool partner for us to work with on making the TallBoy.
I know I know it’s just a steel cup!
Nah! It’s definitely much more than that.
We’re super excited about it. It’s a UK first of it’s kind and there’s only a very limited number of them available. And we’re making them exclusively available to members of our Stohk First Round Club. We want to say thanks to those people who are supporting us at this early stage in our ride and for letting us play a small part in their adventures out there. For those lucky few who join the ride with us now we’re promising to fill your TallBoy with our XPA whenever we see you. On us. For free. Forever.
Sign up at www.outsiders-wanted.cc/stohk before the 9th December and we’ll send you all of the details.
And yes it is 100% bottle cage compatible!
Traditional bitter or fruity fashion beer?
I’m going to stay clear of venturing into too much beery language here. The other guys rip me for it when I do!
But also because we’re not trying to be the hottest new craft brewery out there. We’re not going to be brewing 47 different beers a year. We’re not trying to brew the highest rated NEIPA on ratebeer. There’s plenty of really amazing brewers out there doing that incredibly well and kudos to them.
But we do know what we’re doing.
And right now that is putting our experience and passion into just trying to brew the perfect beer for you as you regale about your latest epic day outdoors.
It doesn’t have to be defined by being a lager. Or an IPA. Or whatever. But it does very simply have to be of the highest quality. No compromise. It exists for that magic moment after an epic day outside. It’s there to be earned – rewarding and elevating the day and celebrating the stories that come from it. That’s the test it has to stand up to.
If everything goes to plan, what will Stohk be like in 5 years?
Man that’s a pretty exciting question.
Right now we’re really just doing something we love.
But I guess we’ve got some sort of noble ambition to find the ways and means to spend more time doing the things we want to spend more time doing.
And we’ve some exciting ideas beyond beer about how we might bring that to life.
There’s a quote we love from Jack O’Neill the founder of the iconic surf brand…
”I’m just a surfer who wanted to build something that would allow me to surf longer”…
We’re building Stohk for everyone who absolutely LOVES the outdoors and the adventures they find themselves in there. Just like we do.
So if we’re out there. Face first, 100%, all in. Spending time with like minded folk. Sharing moments and stories after an epic day outside. Making a positive impact. Well that would seem a pretty fun place to be in 5 years time.
What would you like to say to anyone reading this?
Chase the moments that last a lifetime*
See you out there.
Gareth, Matt, Aled and Michael.
*It’s rule No.1 of Stohk. If you’ve not seen them yet, the rules, then head over to our instagram @stohkofficial. That’s where we’re mostly hanging out at the moment.
Many thanks to Gareth for this and It’ll be really interesting to see what comes from the STOHK team. I think the fact that the beer is just the tip of the iceberg of what the guys have in mind for the future has intrigued me even more and I can’t wait to see what happens next.
Remember to sign up to their mailing list and order the 002 batch asap before it sells out (link above)
Obviously you should drink responsibly and have your beer apre ride