People’s Captain beer: Grabbing a brew with rugby player Greg Bateman
From prop to hops, Greg Bateman chats to FoodTribe about the People’s Captain beer range, and how it will support mental health charities
Back in 2019, premiere league rugby union player Greg Bateman released a statement about his struggles with mental health. Although things have been getting better over the last couple of years, not many sportspeople have been outspoken about their experiences.
So how did Greg get from that point to making a range of beers that help support mental health? He started out making beer as a hobby – he brewed while he was playing for Leicester Tigers. At a similar time to launching his first beer properly, he released his mental health statement.
For a while after that, things had been trundling along nicely, but like for a lot of people, covid kicked Greg’s fledgling beer company “in the nuts". He needed to rethink what they were doing as a company, and make it something beyond 'just trying to sell beer'.
How is People’s Captain different? The company helps to provide funds and the mechanisms to help build positive mental health by putting money into initiatives needed to help people get better. And it’s also about the social connection: having a chat with your mates, whether that’s brew as in tea, or brew as in beer.
I joined Greg for a brew (over Zoom, of course!) to taste through four of the People's Captain range and find out more.
People's Captain beer tasting
The People’s Captain range currently consists of five 330ml cans: Stereotype lager; Legend APA (American pale ale); Island NEPA (New England pale ale); Short & Stout stout (of course); and ‘Tis the Season saison. All the cans feature designs by the excellent street artist Nathan Bowen, whose work you may have seen if you’re ever in London.
Someone said to Greg that ‘all lagers taste the same’, which is a pretty bad stereotype, hence the name! This beer is a beer for everyone, really. Stereotype is clean, refreshing and crisp, and I will agree with Greg that it’s, “not highly carbonated piss water”. It’s brewed in the traditional English style (pilsners take much longer to brew), which results in a beer that’s not too hoppy, not too packed with flavour (in a good way), and you can very happily quaff.
Legend American pale ale
Legend APA was the first beer Greg hand crafted with Charnwood brewery in Leicestershire. After selecting the hop profile, it was balanced out with grist malt to give it a biscuity base, with some citrus which comes through later. It’s 50% dry hopped so the finish isn’t as clean as the lager, and it sticks around on your palette for a while. The character on the can is someone standing up for people. Greg wanted the person to be a normal bloke with his hand in the air, as he will put his hand up for other people.
Islander New England pale ale
This is my kind of beer, and for Greg, it was developed partly based on his rugby playing experiences around the world. As you casually do, he had a quick debrief with rugby friends Manu Tuilagi, Telusa Veanu, Jordan Taufua and Ifereimi Boladau and learned about the key flavours of the Pacific islands: mangoes and passion fruits, and set to capturing that in a beer. Greg said this one took a long time to find what he wanted, but got there eventually with this fruity, funky beer.
Shout & Stout stout
Stouts are quite the Marmite of beers. A lot of people do love a Guinness, but anything else and they turn their nose up. Greg teamed up with Everards of Leicestershire brewery to do this one. Like a lot of people, Greg wasn’t initially a big stout lover, but ended up trying 28 in his quest to find a flavour he liked. He settled on a milk stout, which is 5% and a little dry hopped. It’s got a relatively sweet finish, and would go really nicely with a chocolate fondant pudding, or some blue cheese too.
The word I kept coming back to while drinking these seriously quaffable beers was ‘accessible’. If you’re a relative newbie to the world of beer, you’re still going to really enjoy these. None of them – even the stout – were too difficult or complex or weird for the vast majority of palettes, like some craft beers can be!
And even more importantly than the beers, the People’s Captain foundation will soon be live. Fundraising activities have already started – on a mission to raise £1m for positive mental health initiatives – and the company will be popping up at events later this year, such as Chris Evans' CarFest. Greg said an amazing amount of work has been done so far on raising awareness around mental health, but that more needs to happen, whether that’s the first steps on getting people help, or the next steps.
Discover more about the People's Captain Foundation and our goal of raising £1m to support mental health initiatives. Find out how you can support today.
While there are five beers at the moment, Greg plans to have some exciting and limited-edition specials in the future. For now, the People’s Captain beer club is up and running. As well as subscribing and saving, people will get access to the funkier development beers made in small batch brews, as well as plans to let people name the beers and have a hand in the character design too. There’s potential that people will even be able to have their own small batch People’s Captain beer, as the team will be able to brew 100 litres at a time.