Professional Rugby Players Launch New Craft Beer

Carl Fearns, Michael Young, Will Welch and Logovi’i Mulipola (or better known as Carl, Micky, Will and Loggo), are a group of lads who have bonded over their love of rugby and sportsmanship throughout their careers at Newcastle Falcons.

Ready for the next challenge, the foursome have recently entered the world of craft beer with their impressive brand Manuia.

Channelling their love for a team environment, combining that with passion and hard work, their next adventure is sure to be a success.

Not the biggest lover of beer, I’m apprehensive as I sit down to take a sip of the all new FiaFia, but in fact I’m pleasantly surprised by the refreshingly crisp taste.

Exchanging pleasantries and enjoying our afternoon tipple, I ask Carl how do four rugby players get into the craft beer industry?

“Rugby and beer, what could possibly go wrong?” he laughs.

“Don’t get me wrong, it’s obviously a physically gruelling job being a rugby player, but we do get a fair bit of free time ‘to recover’, so we always try and get together twice a week to talk about all things Manuia.

“The four of us share responsibilities equally and spread the workload too. This is all new to us so we’re constantly learning along the way, but that’s exactly what we want with this experience,” smiles Carl.

“We’re a group of four lads made up of Micky, Will, Loggo and myself, Carl. Three of us grew up in the North of England and the other on the sunny pacific island of Samoa. I have known Micky since I was 15 years old. We’re all similar ages and have played with and against each other for years in the premiership.

“I think we’re all getting to that stage in our career where we want to challenge ourselves with new things and tap into some of the skills we may not have known we had through rugby.

“We were having a coffee after training together one day and talking about exactly that, then the idea of a beer got suggested. I asked what ‘cheers’ translates as in Samoan and Loggo replied ‘Manuia’. We all immediately liked it and it started from there.

“Coming from a team environment we’ve always enjoyed and embraced the social side which usually involves sharing a beer or two. It’s how relationships can be strengthened and developed. There’s also a big sense of family within a team and in my experience of playing with pacific island players, this is something held dearly to them and the main inspiration behind why we wanted to set up Manuia.

“Taking into account the way we have bonded over the years we felt bringing out some drinks that would help people do the same thing would be a good place to start,” he continues.

Staying true to their North East roots, the team decided to partner up with Newcastle- based brewery, Full Circle Brew Co, which is located at Hoults Yard.

“Micky went to school with Ben, the owner of the brewery, so we set up a meeting and we went from there. After numerous meetings and numerous tasting days we knew it was the perfect fit and decided on a Pilsner for our first launch. We wanted to create something that everyone can enjoy rather than something with a niche taste,” explains Carl.

The Pilsner I’m currently sampling, which takes approximately six weeks to brew, is exactly that. As I continue to sip away, I’m learning everything there is to know about the ingredients, the canning process and the hard work that’s poured into each and every batch to ensure it’s perfect for distribution.

Watching the pride beam across Carl’s face as he explains the process, I’m in awe of the hard work these four rugby lads are putting into this creation as well as leading their busy lives and continuing with their day jobs.

ManuiaThe world of craft beer is competitive and with a variety of different brands already out there, the guys knew they had a challenge on their hands to stand out from the crowd.

“There are a lot of beers out there already and we wanted something different which is where the Samoan twist comes into play. The beer is brewed in Newcastle but the branding is all about Samoa. This is where Loggo has really put his stamp on it all, including the tribal print taken from his traditional tattoo.

“I think we all wanted the cava bowl to feature prominently as this is a massive symbol of hospitality, occasion and tradition within Samoan culture. I think there’s so much to take inspiration from with this, we all knew the branding had the potential to be awesome. We worked with Harry, a local designer who came highly recommended to us and he understood exactly what we wanted to achieve. We feel he’s captured our vision and brought it to life perfectly.”

As well as the core branding, the team worked together with Harry to come up with a theme that carries a lot of meaning which would continue throughout each of the brews they bring to the market.

First up is FiaFia which loosely translates as ‘to be happy, to come together and to celebrate’. Each name and meaning given to each will marry up with a complementing colour – creating a harmonious, all compensating brand rooted in Samoan culture.

With their website almost ready to launch and plans in place for the next beer, we can’t wait to see what’s next for Manuia.