Following your dreams is hard enough but going from a home brewing kit to award-winning microbrewery is something Paul Freysen managed well. After all, he won the National Beer Trophy in 2019.
And despite new lockdown regulations this week which prohibit the sale of alcohol, Freysen says he set on staying positive in weathering the new storm.
“It’s a huge blow to the craft beer industry, bad times ahead, but I think it’s important to stay positive — or at least, try for now,” he said this week.
The Kennel Brewery tap room in Paarl in the Western Cape is known for unique beers, retro style and fantastic atmosphere.
It prides itself on being 100% natural, 100% handcrafted and 100% independent, and The Kennel uses social media in an interesting way making the public part of their intimate setting.
We spoke to the owner of The Kennel Brewery on how he managed to stay passionate, his unique take on “dog-friendly” pale ale, and advice for young entrepreneurs.
From collaborating with a trucking company to working with charities to help dogs to get adopted, The Kennel is far more than a brewery.
Q How did you go from dreamer to award-winning microbrewer?
Good old plain “hard work” and a lot of socialising. Once you have your dream, it’s time to leave dreams for night time and make sure you put in the miles during the day.
What made you decide to get into the brewing industry?
Cooking was always a big passion of mine. I was one of two guys at school who took home economics back in the day, so the plan was to go into the culinary direction.
Things didn’t work out that way, but the passion was always there.
“My normal day job got in the way of my personality and I knew it was time for change.’’Paul Freysen
Many years later, I got myself a homebrew kit, fell in love with the hobby and got addicted. My normal day job got in the way of my personality and I knew it was time for change, so I took the leap.
Many years and tears later, here we are. I guess you can now say, I make food through beer and am living my passion through my new passion.
Overall, it’s great. It depends from what angle you look at…but there are more highs then lows.
Every day has its challenges, but it’s part of life and business. At the end of the day, there’s always a cold “brewski” waiting for me. So, no complaints here.
Your brewery is famous for its quirky names, such as Great Dank Dane, and fun lines like Dorshond dog-friendly beer. How do you manage to stay creative and keep business interesting?
The plan was always to have fun with it, make it part of my lifestyle…I guess I’m lucky in a way that the creative switch is always on. The difficult part is to find the off switch sometimes and know when to separate “work“ time with family time.
What role does social media play in running a business in 2020?
Social media is part of life these days, it’s a great marketing tool if used right. We pride ourselves on our Instagram, almost a diary of living the life of The Kennel Brewery through Insta. We have a saying at Kennel: “Beer is a lifestyle”.
What advice do you have for young entrepreneurs today?
Start from the bottom, work your way up. Grow organically. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty. Most important, have fun with it.
What keeps you motivated?
Just to be able to feed the creative part of the brain is more than enough motivation. Brewing is hard work.
At Kennel, we are only two guys [Ryan Dube and me] and everything gets done by hand. But that was the game plan and dream. Not to make beer by pushing button, but more like homebrewing on steroids. The old-fashioned way.
There is certain satisfaction in seeing someone enjoying a product you made from scratch.
What new innovations can we expect?
We’ve always got something in the pipeline at Kennel. For now we are focusing on doing a few collaboration beers with other smaller businesses, which are not necessarily other breweries.
We have one coming up with a tattoo artist, a woman-owned tea shop and mushroom and a transport company.
The Kennel is a reminder that no dream is too big, and no work is too hard.