Play Brew Co is Middlesbrough’s first independent craft brewery and taproom. Based in a quirky warehouse, director and founder Phil Layton spoke to us about why he was inspired to open Boro’s newest venue and taproom in Cannon Park. They will also hold regular live music gigs, the legendary Sounds Familiar Music Quiz, an annual mini beer festival and much more.

Hi Phil! Can you tell us a bit about Play Brew Co?

Hello! Play Brew Co is Middlesbrough’s first craft brewery & taproom. I’m the director and was born and bred in Middlesbrough, but I’ve lived away in Leeds for the past 20 years where I was a hairdresser by trade and owned my own salon. My love for craft beer started when I began home brewing in my salon basement many years ago, and it became a huge passion. After years of research I decided I wanted a career change. Play Brew Co was born from a successful Crowdfunding campaign in October 2018 which enabled me to create and build the business.

Why did you choose Middlesbrough for Play Brew Co and not Leeds?

I chose Middlesbrough for a number of reasons. We wanted to be the first in Middlesbrough to do what we do. Plus, I could see good things happening in Middlesbrough and I wanted to be involved with the vision of Middlesbrough. But more importantly, I wanted to create a flexible environment for the local community to utilise. Cannon Park was identified as the perfect home for Play Brew Co as it is in walking distance of the town centre, and it’s just a 15 minute walk from the railway station and there’s good links to the motorway.

Tell us what the lovely people of Teesside can expect from you guys.

I’d like to think Play Brew Co will be known as the place not just to drink great craft beer, but also a FUN place to attend for a whole load of different type of events! We will have events that will suit so many different audiences. We’re always open for discussion for people wanting to host events at Play Brew Co – we’ve just booked in a wedding and we’re a great alternative venue for any sort of gathering. Get in touch via our social media pages if you’d like to discuss a private hire (@PlayBrewCo).

Now, let’s talk about the drinks! What are you serving up?

We have a core line of our beers in keg and cask format. Pale Ale, Pils Lager, Session IPA, IPA , Amercian Pale Ale and Porter. We will be looking at brewing experimental beers once we have traction and gauged our market audience. (The Love Middlesbrough team can confirm they serve up a range of impressive drinks for all tastes – some of which have chocolatey and jammy donut flavours. If you don’t like ales or lagers they serve spirits and fizz too).

We see you’re hosting the legendary Sounds Familiar Music Quiz which has taken off in London and other cities, will you be hosting other events and any live music?

Sounds Familiar Music Quiz is hosting for the first time in the North East and we were so excited to be chosen as the venue to host the event, which will be a monthly occurrence. Boro’s Pie Jackers will be serving up some tasty food too. The quiz is happening Friday 7th February, doors 4pm, quiz starts 6.30pm.

We have plenty of bookings for live music too, there’s some really, really exciting local talent. I’ve been watching and scouting lots of bands and singers and I’m genuinely amazed how good our talent is in the North East, we should be so proud. We will always have a different street food truck when we have live music or events on.

We are also working with the Safe in Tees Valley charity and we will be holding a mini annual beer festival with some guest beers from the best breweries in the UK, and also local cask beers. We hope to have our first in May – we’ll be shouting about it on social media nearer the time.

(The SFMQ is a mix between a quiz and a party – there’s 100 songs from across the decades to guess and rounds can include Feel the Power Ballad and Round of Cheese, expect a great laugh and an even better atmosphere! Book tickets online, or find out more about SFMQ)

Did we hear you’re a dog friendly venue!?

Yes we most certainly are dog friendly ! In fact, our first dog social is on 29th March and we will be collaborating with other independent businesses for the event, it will be taking place from 10am until 4pm.

What else have you guys been involved with in the past 6 months? 

We have just been part of our first beer festival in Leeds which was a huge success. Our beers went down really well. We were rubbing shoulders with some of the world’s best breweries. In the future we will look at doing some collaborations with other breweries in the UK. We also have a few irons in the fire for the future to collaborate in the USA with some great breweries.

What’s your vision for the future, and how are you helping local people and the environment? 

The purpose of setting up Play Brew Co in Middlesbrough was to give the town its first flagship national brewery, like other top cities. And also to show people what it’s like to drink and have events inside an actual brewery, instead of a purpose built bar or pub. It’s such a unique venue, and when you are inside it’s hard to believe you are in Cannon Park. We do anything we can to be environmentally friendly, all our spent malt is collected by a local farmer to feed his cattle. We are always looking for local talent to join the team and so far have an amazing family unity. As an employer, I am looking for people with a good attitude, a great work ethic and for people who would be proud to work for the Play Brew Co brand. We have big plans in place over the next five years and a huge vision – watch this space!

You can find out more on the Play Brew Co website. If you’d like to get in touch with Phil then send a direct message on Twitter to @playbrewco