As part of our ongoing ‘Women in Beer’ series as part of our #SummerOfPub, WB sits down with Lucy Do, the owner of the Dodo Micropub in West London. Read our full interview here:
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into beer?
I’m Lucy Do and I am the owner of the Dodo Micropub in Hanwell, West London. The Dodo opened in January 2017 and I got into beer how I imagine a lot of people get into beer – you’re down the pub with a group of friends and somebody hands you a beer that takes you by surprise and then you’re like “OK, great, I’m gonna continue on this little road of discovery” and took it from there. I think I enjoyed beer most when the craft beer explosion was happening and hung out more at brewery taps and that sort of thing, so it was really easy just to try as many different styles of beer as possible.
How did you end up running the Dodo micropub?
Before I set up the Dodo Micropub I spent over 14 years in marketing, publishing and education, but I always knew deep down that I wanted to be my own boss and I had lots of ideas about what that business would be. But it wasn’t until I went to my first micropub in 2016 I think, that I had that lightbulb moment where I was like “Ah, I love this, it’s such a great concept!”, really cozy and intimate and unpretentious. I thought “OK, this has got to work where I live in West London,” so I started looking into it and it kind of snowballed from there.
What makes the Dodo special or different from other micropubs on the market?
The Dodo micropub follows the micropub model, and what makes micropubs special is that they are kind of the antithesis to your big pub companies. There’s no music, there’s no TV screens, there’s no electronic distractions, the main form of entertainment is conversation. The layout of the pub is that the tables are all facing inwards to each other so you naturally gravitate to having a chat with whoever’s sitting next to or opposite you. We rotate our beers constantly, so you’re always going to be able to try something new every week when you come in, and it’s all community focused. You come in, try a new beer, have a chat with whoever seems to be in the pub that day.
What will you be doing to celebrate CAMRA’s Summer of Pub?
We are celebrating CAMRA’s Summer of Pub by having an event each month of the summer. We kick off in June – we have got Wild Beer coming in to do beer and cheese pairing in June and we’re also celebrating Beer Day Britain as well with a mini beer festival and a food pop-up in the evening, and lots of giveaways and games in the day time as well. July and August we’ll also be having events with Thornbridge and potentially Beatnikz Republic from Manchester as well. You can find out more about our events on our website.
Can you tell us about your favourite pub memory/beer memory?
Favourite pub memory… I’ve got a lot of good pub memories. If you would like a cheesy pub memory then my boyfriend and I had our very first date in a pub – the French House in Soho. That obviously holds special memories and is a great pub as well, they only ever serve booze in half-pints which I quite like – it’s quirky. It’s also a little bit like a micropub in there, it’s tiny plus they don’t allow phones being used in the pub, so they’re they to promote people having a chat and the flow of conversation in the pub. Other good memories are just spending too many hours in a cozy pub with a bunch of girlfriends and just forgetting time, that’s the best way to enjoy a pub I think.
Why do you think it’s important for pubs to screen the Women’s World Cup this year?
I guess if you’re a pub that wants to show football, why wouldn’t you give the Women’s World Cup – which is a major tournament – the same level of coverage that you would give the Men’s World Cup? I think it’s important from that perspective. It’s a big event in the summer regardless of gender, it’s a World Cup at the end of the day. People are interested so I imagine it would be a good event for the bigger pubs.
How do you think we can get more women interested in beer?
It will be really exciting to get more women drinking beer and part of that process is showing up so people who are women in beer coming out there a bit more and saying “Hey look, we’re here, we exist, we welcome you into this safe space,” but it’s a responsibility of a lot of pub owners I think as well.
I purposely made the Dodo Micropub quite a female space when I set it up. I wanted a woman to be able to walk in here on her own and feel 100% comfortable, and I wanted that conversational, friendly atmosphere, where if you are a little bit unsure about beers as a woman – or even as a man – you can ask the questions and then somebody from the team, myself or one of the guys, will talk you through the process, and be like “Well, have you tried this, have a little taster of this, these are the notes that you’ll get from this,” and welcome them into the beer world.
It’s just being open, communicating a little bit more, women who are in beer going “Hey we’re here come on into the fold, we’re all friendly and we all enjoy beer,” and then I guess welcoming people if you’ve got your own pub to feel comfortable in that space.
How would you encourage a woman or person who tells you that they just don’t like beer to give it a go?
We have many women, people in general, who come in and go “I don’t like beer, I don’t drink ale,” and we’ll always get them to taste some. Or people who say “I don’t like this type of beer,” we’ll be like “OK have you tried this one because it’s actually a bit sweeter than your average stout so it’s not as bitter as you might be thinking.” We always give people tasters and actually that’s when people actually get surprised by enjoying a beer that they didn’t think they would enjoy.
Do you find a lot of people will change their mind after a few tasters or trying one in here?
Yeah definitely. We’ve got a lot more women in particular, but a lot more people in general drinking dark beers. In our first year and a half, lots of people would come to the Dodo and be like “Oh I don’t like dark beers,” and I love my dark beers so I was like “Right, this is my mission, I’m going to talk to you about all the wonderful things that you can get from a dark beer, have you tried this dark beer it’s got a bit of lactose and vanilla in it so it’s a bit sweeter than what you’re thinking.” It’s always good when you can change people’s minds.
What changes would you like to see in the beer industry?
Changes in the beer industry that I think would be important… I think we just need to continue being more open and open with communication, welcoming of all types of people. I think there’s a statistic that the UK has one of the lowest female drinking rates and I would love to see more females coming in and having a beer, and enjoying it in the same way that I do.
What’s next for you and the Dodo Micropub?
I would love to open up more of this kind of thing, but for now the short term immediate goal is really just to nail what we’ve got here: so focus on local growth and getting more people through the door, and continuing the successes we have with events and creating the kind of community focus that we have, and then hopefully have some more micropubs somewhere down the line.
One of the first micropubs to open in West London, The Dodo Micropub is a one room, welcoming independent free-house which opened at the end of January 2017 in Hanwell, Ealing. Find out more on their website: www.thedodomicropub.com/welcome
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