New Birmingham brewery plans growth after launching first craft ale

Gypsy Water pale ale from Birmingham Gypsy Brew

A new microbrewery based in a Birmingham pub has begun releasing its first beers, aiming to expand its range and distribution.

Gypsy Brew was set up by Gary Meads, licensee of the Coach and Horses in Weatheroak Hill, south of Birmingham, and barber Al Smith after the global pandemic forced them to shut their businesses.

After starting out in March last year, they have released bottled beer Gypsy Water, which is an American pale ale in style, combining a sweet citrus burst with a biscuity caramel, toffee base. 

At a sessionable 4.5% ABV, it is described as full-bodied and well balanced with notes of lemongrass, coconut, melon, pineapple and grapefruit peel.

Working with beer cicerone Rob Walker, the pair are now set to launch their second beer in March, followed by another product launch in summer. 

The brand name draws on Al’s heritage descended from a long line of Romany Gypsies, including his great-grandfather who was a prominent bare-knuckle boxer in Birmingham in the 1920s.

Al said: “I’ve always been fascinated by brands’ stories and so when the opportunity came for Gary and I to bring our joint venture to life, it felt natural that we build our own heritage into the heart of it. Gypsy Brew is the telling of my Romany Gypsy lineage, told through products brewed at a pub that has been in Gary’s family for over six decades. It’s the perfect fusion of two Birmingham families’ stories, and we hope that it does our fellow Brummies proud.”

Gypsy Water has already received praise from Sam Morgan, group CEO of We are Craft which operates Craft restaurant in Birmingham, and Luke Tipping, executive chef at Michelin-starred Simpsons Restaurant in Birmingham.

The vegan-friendly beer is available to buy online in 330ml bottles via the Gypsy Brew website at and will also be stocked at Artisan Street Kitchen – a French-style street food van founded by acclaimed chef Andrew Sheridan to tour the Birmingham area.

Gary said: “We are elated to have launched Gypsy Brew into the market with the debut of our first product, Gypsy Water. Creating the brand and our first beer has been a labour of love for Al and me, and while it hasn’t been easy, we’re proud to have brought something positive to fruition during the pandemic. Having worked on the Gypsy Water brew since last March, it’s both exhilarating and humble to be able to share it with Birmingham and beyond.”

Al Smith and Gary Meads

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