Temp Check - Louise Grant from Aberdeen’s Fierce Beer

We chat with Louise Grant about building a brewery, running a business through the covid emergency and bouncing back with the help of community.

Louise Grant has been the friendly face of Fierce since it's inception...the welcoming smile. In our latest Temp Check Interview, we caught up with her to talk about her part in building the brewery, running a business through the covid emergency, and bouncing back with the help of the community. We also touch on her personal challenges and the amazing support from her husband Dave.


Hi Louise. I know life is very busy for you right now as Fierce has begun to welcome consumers face to face so thank you very much for taking the time to answer a few questions. We’ll stick with tradition by opening with “how are you doing right now?”

I am tip top and you?

I’m really good! I’ve been dying to talk to you for ages about your story, so tell us a little about your background and the part you played in starting Fierce family.

I left school (hated it) and had no desire for college or university (probably because I didn’t know what I wanted to do) and landed my first job in an oil service company just before I turned 18. From then I was always in oil, Drilling and Completions, for a couple of operators, but I always had a great job and loved what I did. My husband Dave and I moved to Cape Town in South Africa for a few years with oil, then returned in 2012. I got my job back at Chevron, still at the same desk and all the contents of shit I had left in the drawer!! It felt like I had never been away, ha ha!

When we came back, BrewDog’s Flagship bar was open, and Dave and I spent most of our weekends in there making friends with the regulars. When we first tasted Punk IPA we were like “what is this witchcraft?” Having spent years drinking Castle and Windhoek which tasted of nothing, it was a real eye opener for us.

Our house was like Breaking Bad, loads of stuff sitting bubbling away.

Dave used to cycle a lot over there so when he came back, he was always looking for a hobby. A couple of the regulars used to homebrew, so Dave got chatting to them (Rick the Dentist deserves a shout out), and they inspired Dave to take it up. Our house was like Breaking Bad, loads of stuff sitting bubbling away. I was ‘Assistant to the Brewer’ which technically was a cleaner, but cleaning is one of the most important parts in beer making so I’m OK with that!

Louise Grant at Fierce Bar in Aberdeen
Louise at Aberdeen's Fierce Bar - Photo supplied by Louise Grant

How did things develop from a hobby to a business?

Dave enrolled in a weeklong Brewlab brewing course in Sunderland and that’s where he met Dave McHardy who was also from Aberdeen and called Dave…the weirdest thing was my Dave also worked with Dave M’s wife Sheena. So random and yet clearly meant to be. Dave M was working at the time as a brewer (also an avid homebrewer) for Wooha Brewing.

The never-ending turbulence of the oil industry, layoffs, cost cutting etc really got Dave down and he was so fed up. I asked him what he wanted to do, he said make beer. Me being me, said “fuck it, let’s do it!” So we did. It was very scary, exciting and a bit crazy. We then registered Fierce as a brewery from the house with HMRC…that was 23 March 2015.

We used to take samples to the Flagship for people to taste. Dave was so good at it. For having not done it before, the recipes he came up with were brilliant! Cranachan Killer (Kenny Burns needs a shout out for this. His suggestion then Dave developed it), Café Racer and Heffen Heff to name a few were home brew recipes that we still make now.

So we are beginning to see what we now recognise as Fierce Beer today. How did you grow from there?

We built up a great relationship with BrewDog who were super supportive when we started and are still now. James [Watt] said we could do a tap take over at the Flagship. I think we are still the only brewery that has ever had a TTO with homebrew in a Brewdog venue…and it sold out fast. The buzz and the feeling of people enjoying what you have created was so thrilling and so satisfying.

After that it was clear that we could not continue doing this from home, especially full time, so we got our first premises in Dyce. A very surreal day getting the keys on 1st April 2016. We ordered all the kit and by May we had our first commercial beers out on the street.

And you were an integral part of this growing business?

I was still working in oil, at that time we thought I should keep working to keep money coming in. We both had high paying jobs so to go from that to nothing seemed ridiculous. By day three Dave and Dave said they needed me to quit my job, so I joined on May 1st 2016. We went with ridiculous!!

It’s not always been easy though…cashflow, working 18-hour days, not really knowing what we were doing. We ate and breathed nothing but Fierce and it was gruelling.

I would take care of all the admin side, sales, accounts etc (not that I really knew what I was doing) but we managed and now having just celebrated our official 5th birthday, it’s insane and overwhelming to see how far we have come in such a short time.

It’s not always been easy though…cashflow, working 18-hour days, not really knowing what we were doing. We ate and breathed nothing but Fierce and it was gruelling. But when you are so passionate about something, you just do it. 😊 Absolutely no regrets.

I work for a small business and know that job titles often don’t really explain what your job actually entails; so what does a working day look like for you?

My job is a bit of everything to be honest, accounts, payroll, HR (one of our employees said that I was the reason Fierce needs an HR department lol), sales, exports, supermarkets, supporting the bars and customer service which is No. 1 in my opinion. 

This might be a difficult question, but I’m really keen to know what your initial feelings were as we all went into lockdown, and how that changed through the following few weeks.

It was the weirdest thing ever. I didn’t really understand it and thought it would blow over in a few weeks (like most people I assume) but yet here we are over a years later! It has been so tough, keeping up with what we can and cannot do under restrictions. Having bars in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Manchester rules were different. It was so hard to get your head around and keep up. Every week it was changing. We had to adapt our business model, going from kegs and cans to all small pack as we had nowhere to sell kegs. It was really challenging. Luckily, we have a very smart, dynamic team and we rolled with the punches!

What was the biggest challenge for you personally through the pandemic.

I have MS so I have been working from home since March 2020. It’s tough not being with your team physically, but I am lucky I can do my job remotely, though you do miss the buzz of being in the brewery. I have had both jabs now so I will be able to work back there too. However, since I’ve been away my desk has been stolen!! Rude!

The stress of worrying if we would come out the other side was hard to swallow. When you have put everything you have into a business, the thought of losing it is the hardest and scariest thing to come to terms with.

We launched a ‘paying it forward’ crowdfund April 2020. People would invest and get 1½ times back in beer, discounts at our bars and online for life, and rewards for different amounts invested. If we did not have the support of those investors we would not have survived, and for that I am forever grateful. Typing this I have a lump in my throat 😔

Have challenges faced by your industry pulled independent breweries together in any way? Equally…have they driven some apart?

We are very lucky to have great relationships with other breweries. We used to do beer swaps so we would stock their beers in our bottle shops and vice versa. That really worked well. I don’t know of anything that has driven some apart but there have been many breweries that have had to close their doors, which is heart breaking. If you don’t have an outlet like we do to sell beer you have literally nothing coming in. Having an online web shop and bars to open as bottle shops helped us enormously.

Having the furlough scheme available was amazing. We managed to keep all our team employed which was ace!

What lessons do you think you will you take forward to the future as we cautiously move to the end of the pandemic emergency?

The world will never be the same again and this pandemic has taught us to never take anything for granted. We will always be cautious of how we operate now, ensuring we make the best quality products we can. Beer is a luxury item; many people have lost their jobs so making sure we have top end ingredients and beer for people that is affordable. Customer loyalty is important to keep Fierce alive. Looking after the team has been top priority for us. We are so lucky to have a dedicated long serving team, which is unique in this industry.

Louise Grant jokingly drinking two glasses of red wine.
Sometimes the pressure begins to tell - Photo supplied by Louise Grant

Fierce have been on the go for over five years now. What are your hopes for the evolution of the company through the rest of this year and beyond?

This year, plans are in motion to double capacity. We have ordered more tanks and a new canning line which we will have over the next few months. We have also employed new people to help grow the business (people who know what they are doing, ha ha.) A financial controller, Anel, who is doing a brilliant job keeping us right, and a General Manager who starts next month. She will be able to take work off myself and the Daves and have proper focus.

Dave and Dave still currently do packaging and brewing. They need to take a step back from that and do their jobs.

How do you see those roles?

Dave G doing what he does best. New strategies to grow the sales side and developing new recipes. We have two excellent brewers in Neil and James who have really helped improve our beers. They are tasting the best they ever have.

Dave M concentrating on the operations side and making sure the equipment is top and working more efficiently.

I will be focused on sales and customer service and that is what I do best, if I have all the other tasks, I mentioned before away from me I will be able to get stuck in.

Surviving! Things change all the time, but I think if we continue to do what we are doing we should be ok.

Community obviously means a great deal to Fierce Beer. What’s your secret for keeping your people engaged?

Community is EVERYTHING to Fierce. I think making interesting good beer to keep people engaged is the most important, and listening to your customers feedback to improve. Showing respect, being normal, approachable and treating people the way you want to be treated goes a long way. Be kind and honest. We are super transparent as a company, maybe too much. We are all human we make mistakes but when that happens just say “yes, we mucked up,” then learn from it and move on.

I love people. I’m a people person 😊

Who inspires you, and why?

Don’t get the sick bucket out, but my husband. Dave is the most hard-working person I know, takes everything in his stride and adapts when necessary. He is my hero, I am very proud of him. When I was diagnosed with MS not long ago, I think he was a bit traumatised. He worries about me a lot.

How have you coped yourself with the diagnosis?

I am honestly good, keeping well and working hard. We are the best team and lucky to have survived running a business together and being married. We live another day!

I’m going to pull out a classic job interview question…Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?

I’ll put it back to your readers. Is there anything you would like to tell us? Anything we can improve on or do better. Any feedback positive or negative is always appreciated.


Thank you so much to Louise for her time. You can find Fierce Beer on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Go follow, say hi, and let them know your thoughts on their amazing beers. They really are a friendly bunch.