You may have thought that one day we decided to open a beer shop and then had to come up with a name so sat down, had a brain storming session, someone wrote down the term ‘brewing process’ on a whiteboard along with all other manner of crap and we somehow managed to come to the conclusion that naming our shop waterintobeer was a good idea. Jesus may have been able to turn water into wine, but anyone can turn water into beer (with a little bit of knowledge, the right equipment and the other main ingredients, of course). In reality I imagine you didn’t think that, I imagine you didn’t wonder about the name at all. How the hell you could imagine us owning a whiteboard is beyond me too. Either way you’d be wrong, waterintobeer has history (almost fifteen years of it) and this is a brief-ish article about that because everything needs to start somewhere…
Back in the summer of 2002 whilst sitting drinking beer in Roundhay Park, Leeds, my good friend Luke announced that he wanted to start a DIY punk fanzine, knowing that I had produced some pretty shoddy zines when I was about sixteen he asked if I’d be interested in helping him out. I agreed and the rest of the night was spent discussing who to get involved, who we’d interview and most importantly what the fanzine was going to be called. Somewhere between the seventh and eighth can (I imagine) we came up with waterintobeer. Not for much more reason than that we thought it sounded good, and we liked beer. A lot. I’d like to think the opening of this shop is a culmination of all the years spent in the company of good beer and better friends and it all started that evening when we came up with that name. waterintobeer was born.
We released our first issue of waterintobeer in July 2002, it featured interviews with Leeds punk bank Jeremy Beadles Hand, Sunderland ska band 46 Itchy and Leeds metal band Tangaroa and featured articles by amongst others the four people who would be the cornerstone of the zine for all of its lifespan; The aforementioned Luke Blackburn, Luke Downing and The Fair Maiden of Yorkshire*.
In total we created ten issues of the fanzine, the tenth issue coming out in November 2004, before work and life started getting in the way and we decided that ten was a nice round number to leave it at. We interviewed some great bands and artists such as Mavis (these guys wrote a song called water into beer in a sort of tribute to the fanzine, so the shop already has its own theme tune! (The singer of Mavis is now the editor at Kerrang! magazine)), This Ain’t Vegas, Fig 4.0, Bad Astronaut, Eighty-Six, Webster, Paul Di’anno, Mad Caddies, The Sex Maniacs, Humanfly, The Mercury League, Nathaniel Green, Drawn by Lines and Jello Biafra amongst others and it helped us meet some great people and create and build greater friendships. I’ve missed sticking bits of paper on other bits of paper that I’ve stuck on a blank bit of paper.
After a few years of waterintobeer only being used as a username on various internet forums some friends and I were sitting drinking beer (noticed a recurring theme yet!?) in the Nags Head, Leeds, when Robin blurted out he wanted to start a football team. I believe this started out as a 5-a-side kick about on a Wednesday night but by the end of the night we were an 11-a-side Sunday league football team. By the end of the night we were also called waterintobeer FC.
waterintobeer FC’s first season started in 2005 in Leeds Sunday League Division Three. It took the team nine games to record our first victory and we didn’t finish the season bottom of the league, which we thought was a bloody good achievement. We were that kind of team. The name actually almost never happened. In a pre-season meeting a philistine (though we would later learn a very lovely guy) stood up and told the meeting that our name wasn’t a proper football team name and by the league allowing us to call ourselves waterintobeer would mean bringing the league into disrepute. Luckily no-one listens to anyone else in local football committee meetings and no action was asked of us.
We met an Australian guy called Brendo (actually Brendan) on a bus to a Leeds United game in waterintobeer FC’s first season, who ended up staying in Leeds and playing for the team for the next few seasons. I try to stay away from stereotypes but two things Leeds United supporting Australians seem to like is a football chant and abbreviating words whenever they can. Brendan/ Brendo came up with a memorable chant for waterintobeer FC which he would sing when arriving at all of our dreary 11am Sunday morning games when the rest of the team were too hungover or tired to join in. You’ll probably have to go to Australia to hear it now if you want to. Other than that Brendan/ Brendo also abbreviated the name to WIB and then un-abbreviated it again to wibbers. So if you’ve been paying attention, waterintobeer not only has a theme song but a football chant, an acronym and a pretty nonsensical nickname too.
I left Leeds and waterintobeer FC after six seasons playing with my best friends in the only football team I could ever enjoy playing in and moved to London for work. waterintobeer FC decided to call it a day last season, our tenth season as a club (to match the number of fanzine issues). During the years the team had been promoted a few times (mainly due to league restructuring), got to a couple of cup finals, had a player earn an international call up (Gibraltor), earnt the friendship and respect of many and properly proved that waterintobeer is a proper football team with a proper football team name.
waterintobeer may only seem like name for a beer shop to the initiated, but to me it will always mean so much more. No whiteboards required.
*A friend who had political ambitions and is now a member of Parliament, which to be on the safe side (probably because of the Daily Mail) is why he used a pseudonym.