Fyne Folk – Mungo Delap, Director
Welcome to this week’s Fyne Folk, our blog introducing Fyne Ales team members and talking to them about their experiences during the Covid-19 pandemic. We want to introduce you to the folk who make our brewery what it is, and share their stories from lockdown, how they’ve been coping with the new normal and what their hopes are for a post-pandemic brewery and world.
This week’s interview is with Fyne Ales director, Mungo Delap! Many of you might recognise Mungo for the pivotal role he plays in our annual FyneFest event as Festival Director, so we caught up with him about how his summer has been with no big event in Glen Fyne, or anywhere else for that matter…
Let’s start with some context, you’re a director here at Fyne Ales but you’re not actively involved in the day-to-day running of the brewery, right?
Yes, so as well as Fyne Ales, I also have an events company so that we look after a range of corporate clients, we do a lot of big public events, and that’s what tied me back to the brewery with FyneFest every year, bringing together the brewery and my events experience.
We’ll get on to FyneFest shortly, but tell me about the impact the pandemic has had on the events industry?
It’s incredible – it’s just disappeared. There was one week back in March when it all kicked off when it was just cancellation after cancellation – I was tearing pages and pages out of the diary. It makes sense that the events industry was the first to go, but it was a real crash and burn and here we are six months later and we’re still waiting to see any green shoots of hope emerging from the ashes.
One of the weirdest things about it has been being away from my people – events is a very team-based industry and you work long days and nights with the same people, travel with the same people – it’s an extended family and I just haven’t seen them. I’ve been trying to call a member of my normal team every day to make sure everyone’s holding up okay because the only way we’ll get through this is together and I want them to know I’m there for them, even if I don’t have any work to give them right now.
But you’ve taken the opportunity to get a bit more involved in the brewery?
I think like a lot of people, after the initial panic subsided I starting think “okay, this might be fine, I’ve got projects to do around the house”, so I built a deck and assorted other things for the garden but as it progressed and lockdown went on, it became a bit more tricky to find things to fill the day.”
It made sense to spend a bit more time on Fyne Ales projects because the brewery was actually doing well under the circumstances and to be honest it’s been quite nice to have something to do.
The first big challenge was figuring out what we were going to do about FyneFest this year.
Okay, let’s get into FyneFest, because it wasn’t until May that we actually cancelled this year’s festival?
No, you’re right – after the lockdown measures were announced we hit pause on the festival and one of the big jobs I had back in April was trying to figure out how to take all the plans we had in place and shift them to later in the year. What weekend could we do it on? Would we have to limit numbers? What would that mean for the attendees? What would that mean for the farm?
We looked at every conceivable option for making FyneFest happen this year – we kept going, because we desperately wanted to make happen, and I’m absolutely gutted that we couldn’t. It’s such a special festival, for the people that come, for the brewery, for the events team that come and work it every year – gutted.
We gave FyneFest ticket-holders the option to roll over their tickets for next year’s festival and had a quite incredible response.
Amazing, wasn’t it? The level of support was so unexpected – I think it’s testament to what FyneFest means to people, and what a community it’s developed over the years. It’s guess the same as the response to the online shop when lockdown measures were announced – people just wanted to support us any way they could and we are so, so grateful.
I think the anticipation for FyneFest 2021 will be massive – there are a lot of people who come every single year who I know will be excited to come back after missing a year and I’ll say now, we’ll be doing everything we can to put on the best possible festival next year, no matter what stage of the ‘new normal’ we’re at – it’s going to be an amazing weekend.
You’ve spent a lot more time up in Glen Fyne this summer, even without FyneFest?
Yeah, it’s mostly been a case of having more time to be here – it’s been lovely to be involved in something that’s kept going through all of this and be able to help out and we had fun filming all the FyneFest at Home videos.
One of the big project I was involved in was the venison boxes – there’s been a lot of investment in establishing the deer farm over the past few years and while we’ve done bits and pieces for local restaurants, we’re getting to the stage now where our deer herd is mature enough to withstand making more meat available and we need somewhere to sell it.
Linking up the venison boxes with the brewery’s online shop just makes sense – ‘farm brewery’ isn’t just a name – we’re very proud of our farm and our location and we try to tell that story as much as we can because it’s not just a story, it’s who we are.
How are you feeling about the rest of 2020 and beyond?
I hate the phrase ‘new normal’ – whatever way you look at it, life is abnormal right now. We’ll learn lessons from this year, but we have to find ways to keep moving forward. I can’t see us going back into another national lockdown the way we were in March – I don’t think that’d be good for society, for the economy, for people’s mental health. Yes, we need measures to help control the virus, but we can’t switch off from the world completely again.
I know some people are enjoying the opportunity to spend more time at home and going out less – I’m not one of them. I’m bored of it now – my natural state is to be with people, to be making people happy, whether that’s with events or with beer. I’m a social person and I want to be part of shared experiences, I want to make positive shared experiences for other people.
Let’s finish on something more positive, and I should probably ask you about beer – what have you been drinking?
Recently? Robot Screams. I took a couple of cases home and shared some cans around to friends and got so many messages from people saying ‘hey can you grab me a case of that next time you’re up the glen?’. It’s like an IPA from before all this hazy, juicy stuff started becoming popular – it reminds me of the big, strong, flavourful IPAs we used to have on the bar at FyneFest five or six years ago.