Fabien Nahum, a former Parisian lawyer, opened his forward-thinking brewery Brasserie Hespebay in May 2019. His unique craft beers are carefully designed with original recipes and local ingredients. With his Batignolles pale ale featured at the Tribe Paris Batignolles bar, Fabien hopes to bring something new and experiential to guests and locals alike.
THE ART OF BREWING
Can you introduce yourself?
Before embarking on my beer adventure, I was a lawyer at the Paris bar in business law. I got into beer making because it is something that’s always intrigued and inspired me a lot. I went in without having any financial security, but I still wanted to take the risk and venture into it.
For 7 years now, I have been developing my skills as a self-taught brewer. I haven’t done any training in this area.
At the very beginning I developed the Batignolles beer which I brewed in brasseries in France that welcomed me to both brew and pack my beer. Two and a half years ago, with the help of crowdfunding, I set up my own brewery with brewing tanks in Groslay, Val-d’Oise.
Can you tell us about Hespebay and its products?
The brewery is very focused on recipes and ingredients. We try to offer original products by experimenting as much as possible with the different directions that beer offers. Ingredients are chosen for their quality without looking at the price – we want to carefully design beers with ingredients that we think are the best.
We work with 90% organic malt. Batignolles is brewed with 100% organic malt. Whenever possible, we try to use local ingredients from the French terroir. For example, in recent days we have been brewing a beer with dandelion flowers that we went to pick near Cergy-Pontoise. We have already brewed beers with Camargue hay, thyme, wild oregano and other aromatic herbs (everything had been picked for us in the South of France). We are always keen to bring something new and unique to our customers. On the other hand, we don’t put pineapple or mango in our beers, even if at the moment it’s very fashionable – that’s a direction I don’t want to go in.
We try to provide a wide variety of experiences with our different beers and we really like playing with yeasts. Today we use 4 different yeasts and this is rather unusual because it’s always a bit tricky to vary the yeasts. We work with different levels of acidity as it’s a flavour that we like and we really like hopping our beers because it gives them a lot of flavour.
“We are always keen to bring something new and unique to our customers.”
How do you work with your team on a daily basis?
I make sure to convey a culture that is as free as possible, in the sense that each person on the team is versatile, responsible and independent. Everyone is very involved in the economic reality of the business. The goal for me is that each employee can make decisions without having to go through me, although we see each other very regularly (almost daily at the moment) and I remain available if they need me. My goal is that there is no hierarchical model – I favour collective efficiency. I don’t aspire to be the ‘big boss’ at the top of his ivory tower (laughs). We tend to lean towards a liberated business model as much as possible!
Why a partnership with Tribe? What’s the connection with your brand?
I was contacted, above all, thanks to my first beer La Batignolles – it is the beer that bears the name of the district. I have the impression that this is a key element of our meeting which makes me very happy! I dare to hope that the taste of the beer appealed to the hotel collective as well. Before opening the brewery, I had a store in Rue des Moines for 3 years, just behind Tribe Paris Batignolles, so I am convinced that those who visit Tribe will discover and appreciate the place.
What does it mean to partner with Tribe?
It’s really significant for us as Tribe belongs to the Accor group and we’re a small craft brewery. Being able to work in this way with Tribe, and by being permanently present in the Batignolles district, gives us an added dimension. I hope that the partnership with Tribe will also allow us to continue to develop and make ourselves known more widely.
What does this collaboration mean for your customers?
For residents or regulars of the Batignolles district, they already know our history – they know where we come from and have seen me for 3 years. I think they’ll be delighted to rediscover us in such a lively place like Tribe. When it comes to our brand, they’ll certainly be able to say to themselves “great, they continue to develop”. They’ll be happy to see a brand that they’ve known for a long time developing with new players. I think it can also have a very rewarding effect for Tribe. I’m proud to have the opportunity for our beer to be a part of the offer at Tribe Paris Batignolles.
What’s the next step for you?
What interests me most is being a very experiential brewery. We’re launching an ageing program in wooden barrels to make our beers even more complex than traditional ones – a process of quality and rarity of the product. I think there are also plenty of things to develop in parallel, particularly activities around brewing and developing brewing tourism to promote the region we’re in as much as possible.