A Look At Crucible, A True Innovation

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Crucible is the first creative hub for the drinks/flavour industry and for us one of the most exciting bits of news of the year.

A couple of years ago BarLifeUK found themselves having a couple of late night beers with Stu Bale (formerly of Strange Hill) when he told us about an idea he was working on. At it’s core it was a space with that expensive equipment that most bars, let alone bartenders, can’t afford, that bartenders can come along to and use. Under the careful eye of some experts of course.Crucible

Since then we have annoyed the shit out of Stu by asking him what’s happening with it every time we see him. The simple reason we were so intrigued was we thought it was a corking idea, a chance for bartenders to get to play with equipment previously just reserved for those with very generous bosses.

So it was with a big grin on our faces we read a text a few weeks ago from the man himself ‘Yo. Got a site.’.

What Is Crucible?

According to their blurb ‘Crucible is the perfect place to see ideas come to life, learn new techniques, bounce ideas around, and work with people outside of your place of work. Collaborate, share experiences, and get inspiration from Crucible members and Community teams.’

More importantly what does Crucible, based right next to Haggerston Station in East London, contain:

Lab – More on that below
Photo Studio – A white tent studio for drinks shots, product shots, pack shots or action shots on the bar. If you aren’t a budding David Bailey they can also provide professional drink and food photographers.
Tasting Room – Sitting 8 (or at a push 10) people and complete with wide screen TV for any presentations.
Hot Desks – A small number of desks are available to hire if you need to get some work done.
Bar – A fully stocked bar with Hoshizaki ice machine for you to tinker away at those drinks recipes.

Arguably it is the Lab that is at the heart of Crucible, as it is here that the equipment, that is out of reach to so many, can be found. The list of kit is pretty impressive:

  • Rotovap
  • Homogonizer
  • Dehydrator
  • Thermomix
  • Blast Chiller
  • Bradley Smoker
  • Cold Press Juicer
  • Induction Hob
  • Carbonation Rig
  • Centrifuge
  • Brix Meter
  • Ph Meter
  • Ice Cream Maker
  • Laser Thermometer
  • Water Bath
  • Vacpac Machine
  • Glass Distillation
  • Siphons
  • Cream Whippers

Along with all the kit Stu or one of the team will be on hand to talk you through it all so don’t panic if you haven’t tried a piece of equipment before, Crucible is all about giving everyone a chance to be able to learn, as well as play.

Stu Bale

Stu Bale

We asked Stu what made him come up with the idea, ‘I wouldn’t have said I came up with the idea, its a concept that has been used in many industries for years. Artists share studios, there are metal workshops that use a similar model. I mean if you want to record an album you don’t buy a full fucking mixing studio you go to somewhere that’s set up for that and use their tools. I was doing more and more consultancy work and was becoming limited by my kitchen in my house, and realised that there wasn’t something like this for bar / flavour people’

Membership

To fund all of this there is obviously going to be a cost but we were amazed to hear how low that cost was. A true sign that this is a concept that is designed to be available to all bartenders, at any level.

Bartender Membership (which includes full access to all equipment when booked in advance) is just £50 a month for the first 100 people to sign up (for a year) and £69 a month once those first 100 have gone.

Brand Ambassador Membership (which gets full access to all the equipment when booked, use of hot desks and 1 guest allowed at any time) is £100 a month for the first 50 to sign up (for a year) and £135 a month after the first 50 have gone.

There are also Brand Packages available.

So as we say, and we hope you agree, that is a very affordable proposition to get access to all that the Crucible has to offer. What does Stu hope that people will get out of the membership ‘I’m really looking forward to seeing how people use the kit. I think it’s kind of levelling the playing field a bit, giving everyone access to toys that previously have only been available to a few folk. I also think it will be interesting how partnerships will form, with members from very different backgrounds working in the same room, and maybe end up working together.’

With that in mind it is worth pointing out that as well as Stu, and other well known industry folk, the Crucible will give bartenders the opportunity to meet and chat to people outside the bar community: ‘For me as well I’m looking forward to still running my own consultancy from here, but having a roster of the best folk around and being able to work with the members on suitable projects that come in. Its not just bar people that have joined up, I’ve got chefs, coffee people, one girl that makes cosmetics, its a very wide breadth of talent so I think Crucible could end up becoming an agency in its own right.’

If you want to join up to Crucible then please email stu@crucible-london.com or give him a call on 07851 761896. We’ll probably see you there…. with our hair on fire…. responsibly of course.

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