Showing posts with label thornbridge brewery. Show all posts
Showing posts with label thornbridge brewery. Show all posts

Friday, March 4, 2011

Brewer of the Week

The Fuggled Brewer of the Week series is more about the brewers themselves than the breweries they work for, although there is naturally a great deal of overlap. Last May we interviewed former Thornbridge brewer Kelly Ryan, today we return to Thornbridge....


Name: Matthew Clark
Brewery: Thornbridge Brewery

How did you get into brewing as a career?

By accident. I used to be a chef in Norfolk and my girlfriend was offered a much better job in Derbyshire so we moved. I didn’t fancy cooking again because of the unsociable hours so I scoured the county for suitable jobs. I originally applied for the van driver’s job and they asked me to come in and work for a day. I really enjoyed myself and asked lots of questions but they gave the job to someone else. It seems the brewery had other plans as they offered me a job of Assistant Brewer and that was 4 years ago.

What is the most important characteristic of a brewer?

A willingness to learn new things.

Before being a professional brewer, did you homebrew? If so, how many of your homebrew recipes have you converted to full scale production?

Before becoming a professional brewer, I homebrewed once. It was disastrous. So there is hope for anybody.

If you did homebrew, do you still?

Since becoming a brewer I homebrew quite often now. Playing around with different brewing techniques and interesting ingredients. Next one, Number 7, will probably be a Kvass.

What is your favourite beer that you brew?

It has to be Jaipur. Weighing out the hops for Jaipur is one of the best jobs in the brewery. It’s a very bitter beer but has a really strong malt backbone to back that bitterness up. Because of this balance, at 5.9% it drinks like a session beer. And the aroma is incredible too.

If you have worked in other breweries, which other beer did you enjoy brewing, and why?

Before Thornbridge, I was a brewing virgin.


Of the beers you brew, which is your favourite to drink?

It depends, Spring – Jaipur. Summer – Wild Swan. Autumn – Ashford. Winter – St. Petersburg.

How important is authenticity when making a new beer, in terms of flavour, ingredients and method?

I think authenticity matters if you want to use it as a selling point. If not, as long as the beer is made with love, care and attention and it tastes great, who cares if it’s authentic.

If you were to do a collaborative beer, which brewery would you most like to work with and why?

We’ve been lucky enough at Thornbridge to collaborate with Garrett from Brooklyn Brewery, Doug from Odell’s, Agostino and Maurizio from Birrificio Italiano and Mark from Darkstar. I think though because of his influence on brewers old and new, I’d really like to do a collaborative homebrew with Charlie Papazian.

Which beer, other than your own, do you wish you had invented?

Sierra Nevada Pale ale. I think this is one of the best beers in the world. No gimmicks. No fuss. Just great beer.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Brewer of the Week

For Brewer of the Week we head back to the UK, to Bakewell in Derbyshire, perhaps more famous for the pudding named after the town (it is not a tart, I am repeatedly told by friends from Derbyshire), but certainly gaining a stellar reputation in the brewing world as well, as home to the Thornbridge Brewery and beers such as Halcyon and Jaipur.


Name: Kelly Ryan
Brewery: Thornbridge Brewery

How did you get into brewing as a career?

I had finished a Microbiology degree and was doing a Food Science degree under the late Professor Jean-Pierre DuFour. JP (as he was known) was a Belgian brewing professor who headed up the Food Science department and his passion and love of beer was both enthralling and captivating. I did a couple of postgraduate papers on Fermentation Science and Flavour Chemistry with him and realized I was hooked. I then got accepted into a 2 year Trainee Brewer scheme with DB Breweries in New Zealand and the rest is history!

What is the most important characteristic of a brewer?

Passion. You need to be curious and innovative and instinctive and absolutely love what you do. Couple that with the fact that brewers make beer, not money and it becomes absolutely essential!

Before being a professional brewer, did you homebrew? If so, how many of your homebrew recipes have you converted to full scale production

No, I never did any homebrewing at all. I went from a scientist who enjoyed beer and learning about the science of brewing straight into a massive production facility. In some ways, not being a homebrewer was an advantage here as working for a big brewery as a trainee means you don’t have a lot of chances to get creative and develop recipes. That’s why I love being a craft brewer!

If you did homebrew, do you still?

The closest I get to homebrewing is playing around with experimental beers on our UK 10 bbl Hall brewery… Homebrewing on a mass scale.

What is your favourite beer that you brew?

Tough question! Currently it’s a beer that I’m trying to perfect called The Light (a 2.9% dry-hopped light ale). This type of beer is a real challenge. It’s about exactly balancing flavours and mouthfeel and aromas with little margin for error. Small beers are the toughest to brew… you can’t hide behind massive malt or hop flavours as easily. I love the challenge!

If you have worked in other breweries, which other beer did you enjoy brewing, and why?

Probably Fyne Ales Highlander. It was one of the first ever craft brews I did and is a wonderful balance of delicate hop and delicious malt.


Of the beers you brew, which is your favourite to drink?

I really like our New World Brown Ale, Ashford, as a session beer though am rather fond of Kipling, our 5.2% South Pacific Pale Ale. Must be my body craving a taste of New Zealand and those incredible Nelson Sauvin hops!

How important is authenticity when making a new beer, in terms of flavour, ingredients and method?

One of our brewery's catchphrases is “a contemporary take on traditional thinking”. I respect tradition and authenticity and am stoked to be part of one of the world’s oldest professions but the brewing industry has always been about innovation and pushing the envelope, whether it be through harnessing the latest technology or just pure experimentation. We constantly do a lot of research into old brewing practices and ingredients. It’s up to us as brewers to make these a bit more contemporary through their use. Most people today wouldn’t be that keen on beers such as “Cock Ale” where they would throw a rooster into the boil… we tend to be a little more reserved that that when it comes to authenticity. I much prefer playing around with herbs, fruits and spices to get fantastic breadth of aroma and flavor. But balance is also key!

If you were to do a collaborative beer, which brewery would you most like to work with and why?

So far we have collaborated with Brooklyn Brewery, Epic Brewery in NZ and Dark Star Brewery. We’re working on doing something with Odell’s Brewing from the US later in the year which is really exciting as I rate Doug’s St. Lupulin as one of the nicer beers I’ve tried and his Red Ale, 5 Barrel Pale and IPA are fantastic too! It’s also going to be really fun to work with someone who has the same hopback as us. Hopefully we’ll learn a lot from him about optimizing its use for hop aroma and flavor. I also think it would be great fun to do a collaboration with Dogfish Head. I love the drinkability of their beers even though they use some crazy ingredients. Very inspiring.

Which beer, other than your own, do you wish you had invented?

Would have to be Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron. The most fascinating aroma of any beer I’ve tried, through the use of a massive South American hardwood vat. I love this beer!!!

Beyond January

Dry January is over, but my beer fast continues. Well, it continues until Friday. As a general rule I only drink at the weekend, thus my win...

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