January 25th, 2013Desert Island Beers
Back in September ’12 we started a ‘Kiwi & Oz’ series on Desert Island Beers saying these were exciting times for New Zealand and Australian brewers, with both countries experiencing major growth in “craft” beer sales and the number of “craft” breweries. With this major growth as background we will have featured nearly twenty of our Kiwi & Australian brewing and blogging cousins when the series finishes in the next few weeks.
There is however a similar story closer to home as one of the great things about being a beer drinker in London at the moment is the vibrancy of its beer and brewing scene. We have therefore planned our next series of castaways on Old London Town.
The growth in London breweries in recent times has been nothing short of amazing. When in 2011 Des de Moor published his excellent guide, London Brewers and Beers he reckoned there were thirteen operating breweries, an increase from the eight that remained after Young’s left Wandsworth in 2006. He now reckons there are thirty six breweries operating in London, including ten brewpubs, with at least a further eleven under development, including three brewpubs. And with some of these projects well advanced its likely there will be over forty by the summer!Tags: brodies, camden, Fuller's, kernel, London, Meantime, redemption, truman, watneys, youngs
January 7th, 2013Desert Island Beers
As soon as he could legally drink beer Dean Pugh joined Wetherspoons and has showed no signs of his passion for malt and hops diminishing since then. Especially for hops.
Dean undertook Wetherspoons management training after leaving university, and in 2007 joined York Brewery, helping them to open their first pub outside the old city walls, Mr Foley’s Cask Ale House in Leeds.
Dean grew ‘Foley’s’ from scratch, managing it from new kid on the block to Leeds Pub of the Year in 2009 (as voted for by the local brand of CAMRA). Set in a grade-II listed building opposite the iconic Leeds Town Hall, the pub has become a magnate for geeks of all kinds, whether that’s football (telly screens and comfy sofas), beer aficionados (bottles and cask ales aplenty) or weekend art critics (the bar is a stone throw from Leeds Art Gallery and the Henry Moore Institute).
Dean was integral in encouraging the growth of beer lovers in Leeds, with Foley’s well known as a place to find well kept real ale and interesting bottled beer from around the globe. Under Dean’s stewardship Foley’s has hosted many beer focused events, from Meet The Brewer evening with the local lads at Summer Wine or Kirkstall, to making Leeds centre stage in the UK celebration of IPA Day. Most recently Foley’s hosted a lunch with Garrett Oliver as he toured the UK at which Radio 4 were present to interview Garrett and the beer bloggers of Leeds.
Sadly after five years Dean hung up his boots at Foley’s and jumped onto the BrewDog ship, becoming manager of the all new BrewDog bar in Manchester. The people of Leeds have lost a good man, even if he is (undeniably) as passionate about Sunderland FC as he is about beer.Tags: BrewDog, leeds, manchester, radio 4, summer wine
December 31st, 2012Desert Island Beers
This weeks Desert Island Beers is a massive coup as it features none other than Sir (well if a UK citizen he would be) Mitch Steele, brew-master at the world-famous Stone Brewing Co. of Escondido, California which was named “The All-Time Top Brewery on Planet Earth” by BeerAdvocate magazine in 2008…AND 2009! “The most popular and highest rated brewery – ever!” (I just wish I could get their beers more often over here!)
I was saving this post for the New Year and an upcoming series of Desert Island Beers on U.S. Brewers, but whilst researching this article I learnt that today, 31st December is Mitch’s 50th birthday! So what better birthday present than to be castaway on a Desert Island with your favourite beers. Happy Birthday Mitch!
Mitch was an Enology major at the University of California, Davis in the early ’80s when he found out about the wine-making curriculum there and took an introductory wine-making class. Later he discovered the Brewing Science program and was in a microbiology class when Dr. Michael Lewis guest lectured and provided a brief overview of the brewing process and Mitch was as they say hooked! The idea of combining art and science in crafting wine and beer seemed like a perfect fit for him.
When he graduated, a recession had hit and brewers weren’t hiring and the only craft brewers of any note at the time were Sierra Nevada and Anchor so he ended up making wine in the Central Coast region of California for eight years. About five years into the wine-making stint he hooked up with Bill Millar, who was starting the San Andreas Brewing Co. in Hollister, California. He took Mitch as his brewer, and Mitch brewed there at weekends and during his time off from the winery for four years.
After four years of brewing as a second job, Mitch decided to make brewing his chosen career and got a job with Anheuser-Busch in Colorado. He figured (correctly) that A-B would be a great place to learn how to manage the brewing and fermentation processes and he ended up at A-B for 14 years and says got to do some really great and fun things with them and learned a lot; but at the same time was really itching to get back into craft brewing.
An active home-brewer during his time with Anheuser-Busch, Mitch joined Stone Brewing Co. in 2006 and has managed the brewing and packaging operation at Stone Brewing Co. as it has grown from a 48,000 bbl operation to 150,000 bbls in 2011.Tags: fat heads, Fuller's, london porter, Orval, stone, victory
December 28th, 2012Desert Island Beers
This weeks Desert Island castaway is Matteo Bonfanti, Head Brewer at Ticino Brewing Co. Stabio, Switzerland. Matteo (aged 30) was born and grew up in Italy and went to the University of Milan, the faculty of Agriculture, where he took a degree in Food Science and Technology. The University is less than 2 kilometers from the infamous Birrificio Lambrate, and so it happened that every now and then he found himself at Lambrate drinking great beers between one lesson and another.
During his years at university he met a friend who had just started brewing beers at home, he showed Matteo how to brew, where to buy ingredients and equipment and he became a homebrewer too. After buying all the equipment Matteo says he started brewing at his grandfather’s house, with his grandparents as assistants.
Holidays too were often about beer: so whilst his friends planned holidays with guide books, he was looking for pubs, breweries and beer places; Belgium, Germany, The U.S.A , Baltic States, England, Sweden, Norway, again Belgium, again England…etc.etc..
After obtaining his degree Matteo had his first experience in a craft brewery with he says an intense internship at BrewDog in Scotland. After that he went back to Italy and to University to start a Ph.D. in Technological innovation for Agro-food. Matteo says it was however obviously about beer: microbiological analysis of beer and some research about beer made with chestnuts. Then a move to Ticino, the Italian speaking region of Switzerland, where he became Head Brewer of the newly established Ticino Brewing Company.
Matteo says some of his best moments working at Ticino Brewing Co. have been on collaboration beers; a White IPA with Kjetil from Nogne-O and a fresh hop amber lager with Stephen and Gabriel from Rappi Bier Factory. Matteo says these are great experiences where you learn from fellow brewers, have fun and drink a lot of beer as well!
Ticino is one of the first small breweries in Europe who put their beers in cans. And as Matteo is a big fan of cans it’s a great thing for him! He also loves hops, whether from Europe, United States, Australia, New Zealand or South Africa! He’s also kinda addicted to brewing books (history, raw materials, technology, beer styles…) and loves reading them to help improve his beer culture and knowledge.
Read the rest of this entry » Tags: birrificio italiano, Cantillon, libertines, Saison Dupont, switzerland
December 16th, 2012Desert Island Beers
We’re taking a break from our Down Under series for a few weeks over Christmas and during that period bringing you some castaways from nearer shores. Desert Island Beer Down Under returns in January. First up in the interval is Colin Stronge from Scotland
Meet Sir Colin of Stronge, Head Brewer/Production Manager at Black Isle Brewery, Munlochy, Ross-shire, Scotland. Colin who grew up in Monaghan, Ireland joined The Black Isle Brewery in 2011 having previously served nine years at Marble Brewery in Manchester and a couple of years with the Liverpool Brewing Company.
Colin moved to England in 1998 from Ireland to study Architecture at Liverpool John Moore’s University but didn’t enjoy the course and left. He took a job at The Brewery pub in Liverpool and when the brewer of the attached brewery quit, he was asked to take the job on. Colin says he knew nothing about brewing at the time and mostly drank shit lager but was keen to find a career and to learn a new skill. After only a week in the brew house he knew that’s where he wanted to be: he reckons to have worked hard (if the beer wasn’t fantastic) but the company decided to sell up and Colin moved to Manchester.
In Manchester he started another university course (Journalism and Sociology) and took some work on at the Marble Arch pub to earn some pennies. While there he talked to the brewers and they keenly offered him time helping out around the brewery…then found they couldn’t get rid of him. When he finished his degree he got a call saying that the second brewer had given his notice and did he want the job. He did and the rest, as they say, is history.
Black Isle began life in 1998 in an old cattle shed on 150 acres of farmland in the Scottish Highlands, just across the water from Inverness. The brewery upgraded from a 5 BBL kit that was brewing around eleven times a week to a 30 BBL kit just over two years ago. Colin meanwhile lives in the middle of nowhere outside Inverness.Tags: black isle, buxton, mikkeller, scotland
December 11th, 2012Desert Island Beers
This weeks Desert Island castaway is Tammy Viitakangas Head Brewer and M.D of Aotearoa Breweries NZ Ltd. Tammy was born and grew up in the small mill town of Kawerau, Eastern Bay of Plenty, on the North Island; her parents having lived their entire married lives there. (Her father came here from his native Finland as a youngster among the early Finnish families who came to Kawerau to help run the then new Tasman Pulp and Paper Mill.)
Tammy left school at 18 and went off to Massey University in Palmerston North to study a Bachelor of Technology. She says she never would have dreamt that 12 years later she would be back in Kawerau running her own brewery with her Mum, Dad and Uncle Esko. The thought of ever even coming back to live in the area was not running on the top of her list of things to do; she wanted to see the big wide world first and did just that.
Tammy says her first memorable beer experiences were at Massey where she learnt about malting and brewing in a biotechnology paper and a part of which involved a field trip visiting a large and small brewery in Napier. She says she subsequently aced that paper. She also indulged in the typical student life and drank a lot of flavourless beer and became more interested in how to make it. The visit to the small brewery which she thinks must have been Roosters, was also a mind opener; as she tried a chocolate beer and had no idea that there was even such a thing as a chocolate beer, and was most impressed being a chocolate lover. She ordered one or maybe many afterwards; loved the tour and seeing a small business in operation. Still though, it did not cross her mind that she would end up doing something similar herself years later.
Thereafter Tammy did the typical NZ OE after Uni; and lived in both Melbourne and the UK for a few years. However it was mostly while travelling in Belgium she first truly fell in love with beer. Her first was the Hoegarden Belgium Wit beer which she loved. Aotearoa now have their own interpretation of that style, with their Mata Blondie and which still brings back memories. Tammy also loved the Abbey and Fruit beers, and experiencing the amazing variations in beer flavours and styles. She drank beer all the way through Germany, Pilsener in Prague and also tried UK offerings.
After returning from the UK, Tammy wanted to start her own business been tired of working for large companies. She looked at businesses to buy, and with having had jobs in food and pharmaceutical manufacturing it was only natural to look for something in that field. Meantime Tammy had started home brewing; she loved it and found others were really enjoying her beer. So she purchased Wellington microbrewery Strongcroft and transported the brewing equipment to Kawerau and managed to convince her Mum, Dad and Uncle to join her crusade. That was seven years ago.
Thinking back now, Tammy says they were all bloody mad. None of them had ever worked in a brewery before, her dad and uncle were paper makers, and mum a school secretary, but somehow they managed to piece together the brewery, and were happy just to have their first batch boil and ferment. Three months after launch they received their first medal which was a very proud moment, and Tammy says they are still having fun today and absolutely loves that beer has no endings, and there is such a huge array of flavours achieved from just four ingredients and remains excited by beer everyday.Tags: 8 wired, epic, new zealand
December 9th, 2012Desert Island Beers
Welcome to the latest episode of Desert Island Beers which this week features Scott Vincent, Head Brewer at Matilda Bay Brewing Company. Scott was born and raised in Bondi, NSW where he developed a thirst for fishing, rugby and microbiology. Scott spent his first six years in beer as a microbiologist before making the move to brewer. He then got his dream job when he became head brewer at Matilda Bay in 2008, excited at the opportunity to help bring craft beer into the spotlight in Australia.
Now part of the Foster’s Group; if a brewery could be transient, then Matilda Bay would win the walkabout stakes as not only has it changed location several times, it has also changed states. For the latest home for this longest-established of all Australian craft breweries, is a former Cadbury’s chocolate factory in Port Melbourne – a move from Dandenong South and a long way from the Perth suburb of Nedlands, where its brew kettle was first fired in 1984.
Back then it was owned by Phil Sexton and friend’s, who blazed Australia’s craft beer trail, making small batches of beer for sale in Fremantle’s Sail & Anchor pub. First off the production line was Redback wheat beer – the first of its style made in Australia and still winning awards today. Other styles then unfamiliar to Australian palates, such as the dark lager Dogbolter followed and, in the early 1990s, the brewery was purchased by Carlton and United Breweries. Founder Phil went on to found Little Creatures, while the backing of one of Australia’s biggest brewers provided Matilda Bay with the financial clout to reach a much wider audience.
It left its West Australian roots behind to move to the Garage Brewery in the outer Melbourne suburb of Dandenong in 2005, where under the stewardship of then Head Brewer Brad Rogers (who has since founded Stone & Wood in Byron Bay) and now Scott it acts as the Foster’s Group, craft beer arm.
In an interview back in April 2012 Scott said ”We’ve been looking for a suitable site for the best part of 2½ years,” ‘Our lease was expiring at Dandenong South and we wanted a prime location close enough for visitors. It also had to be big enough to take a brewery. The brewing equipment from Dandenong South was moved to Port Melbourne, with extra fermenters and maturation tanks. A brewery bar and visitors’ centre was built and opened earlier this year and is now open seven days a week.
Matilda Bay Brewing Company was named after a water point on the Swan River near the original Nedlands site, which it quickly outgrew and so moved to North Fremantle. Whilst Foster’s bought it out in the 1990?s the provenance of the Matilda Bay brands has been something of a juggling act for their marketing people, especially after the North Fremantle brewery, where Redback, Beez Neez and Bohemian Pilsner were produced, was closed. The larger-volume Matilda Bay beers are now made at Hobart’s Cascade Brewery, joined by Dirty Granny cider.
Well-qualified when it comes to the technical side of brewing and experienced in making many different styles of beer, Scott is keen to ensure that Matilda Bay remains an innovator in the craft beer landscape.Tags: australia, tolkien
December 7th, 2012Desert Island Beers
Meet Sean Harris, founder and brewer at Raindogs Brewing Co. Christchurch, New Zealand. Sean was born and raised in Christchurch, went to University there and did an honours degree and then a PhD in chemistry. He says he got pretty sick of the insipid mainstream beer on offer back then and with imported beer rare (rubbish mass produced lager only) and with craft brewed beer also pretty hard to come by he basically gave beer up in favour of wine and cider.
Sean then moved to the USA to work after university, specifically Houston, Texas and it was there that he discovered the world of beer that was just not available back then in New Zealand. The craft brewing industry in the US to him was an eye opener. After Houston he moved to the San Francisco area and spent a couple of years working at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. His love of beer continued to grow and develop there; there were lots of small breweries and brewpubs in the area so lots of great fresh beer to try. And it was whilst living there that he decided he’d had enough of working as a research chemist and given the vibrant brewing scene, could see opportunities to get into brewing and take that back to New Zealand.
Sean had been successfully home brewing for a while but decided he needed a bit more of a formal education in brewing so he took the American Brewers Guild craft brewing course. He says it was an excellent course that provided a thorough background into the science and practical engineering of brewing and it also provided Sean with a two month internship at E&O Trading Company in San Francisco.
From there Sean then brewed at a brewpub north of San Francisco called The Broken Drum for a time. He then moved to Seattle which he says had a fantastic brewing scene but was unable to get a foot in the door. So he packed up and moved back home to Christchurch. Soon after he arrived back he got the job brewing at The Twisted Hop, (at the time) a relatively new brewpub in the city. Sean worked there for 5 years brewing predominantly cask beer for service in the bar and which Sean says was his first major exposure to the joys of real ale. He had a great time there but it all came to an end with the Christchurch Earthquakes closing the City Centre and the pub.
The above, Sean says really forced him to look at pursuing his own business, so he started Raindogs Brewing Co in the late half of 2011 and has been lucky to be able to brew his beers at another local brewery, Three Boys, so has not needed to invest in brewery plant up until now. But as production needs have increased and hopefully will continue to do so, the time has come to open his on brewery and Sean is in the process of doing so right now and aims to have the new brewery site up and running in early 2013.Tags: new zealand, stephen hawking, tom waits
November 16th, 2012Desert Island Beers
This week’s Desert Island castaway is Kieran Haslett-Moore, of Southstar Brewing, a Cuckoo brewer, who travels New Zealand sneaking in brews at other people’s breweries. Kieran has been forging a career in fermented food and drink for the last decade although his passion for beer goes much further back than that.
He says he always preferred beer to other alcohols and he discovered good beer on a holiday to Otago: for whilst riding on the Taieri Gorge Railway he came across a bottle of Emerson’s London Porter and his perception of beer changed completely. He went on to start home brewing while enthusiastically tasting as many beers as possible. After a degree in Sociology and Politics he then went on to become the cheese monger at Wellington’s, Moore Wilson’s Fresh Market. At the same time he took up beer blogging, and started to run beer and cheese tastings.
After 6 years as a cheese monger Kieran took up the position of Regional beer specialist at Wellington’s liquor retailer and distributor Regional Wines and Spirits. He also manages to find time to write regular beer columns for Capital Times in Wellington, SOBA’s Pursuit of Hoppiness and for Consumer Magazine and has judged at the BrewNZ/Brewers Guild Awards, the SOBA National Homebrew Competition and at the NZ International Beer Awards for the last 2 years.
In 2010 he was the first person to bring a recipe into the Emerson’s Brewery when Regional and Emerson’s made a collaboration brew. The resulting extra special bitter, RSB, was brewed again the following year and won a silver medal at the New Zealand Brewers Guild Awards. This year the collaboration took the form of a best bitter. Named RBB the beer took a gold medal and best in class trophy.
Kieran was also a founding member of the Society of Beer Advocates and is a long term overseas CAMRA member. He says he finds the current apparent conflict between CAMRA and proponents of English ‘craft beer’ curious and a little saddening. He also regularly presents beer tastings and still specialises in beer and cheese tastings, which are in his opinion two perfectly suited fermented foods.
His passion is for traditional and modern English style beers and Southstar Brewing is a vehicle for that. It’s more a brand for his cuckoo brewing rather than an actual brewing company. So far there have been two Southstar beers brewed as collaborations with Silverstream’s Kereru Brewing Co, a Strong Rye Brown Ale and a Beervana Festive brew that combined chestnuts, cranberries and currants. Next up is a brew planned with New Plymouth’s Liberty Brewing Co which will be an English hopped IPA brewed in a New World style called Sceptred Warrior. Kieran also still runs a 60L home brewery in the hills of Brooklyn where his partner Sarah puts up with the smell on brew days.
The BeersTags: Foreign Extra Stout, fullers esb, new zealand, rodenbach, thomas hardy
November 9th, 2012Desert Island Beers
This weeks Desert Island Beers features only our second Brewster, Tracy Banner, who is joint owner, with David Barrett and the Head Brewer of Sprig and Fern Brewery, Richmond, Nelson, New Zealand.
Tracy started her life in the Brewing Industry in North West England at Greenall Whitley’s aged just 16. She started out in the laboratory analysing malts from all over the country, alcohols, pH levels, bitterness, polyphenols and Fusel oil to name a few. She thought she would be at Greenall’s for life, but after eight years the brewery closed with Greenall’s beers subsequently been brewed under licence in Burton upon Trent.
Next stop was Bass Brewers where Tracy joined the Product Improvement Team. Unfortunately, the powers that be then decided to close three of the Bass Breweries in the UK so she was off again looking for another brewery so she could stay in the industry she had become so passionate about. Subsequently leading the Quality Team at Cains Brewery in Liverpool with a heavy involvement in Cask Conditioned beer was an exciting role and one she enjoyed for four years before Tracy and her husband decided they wanted a better quality of life and headed to New Zealand. That was 1994.
After a year with brewing giants Lion Nathan in Auckland, they moved to Nelson where Tracy took on the role of Brewer at Mac’s Brewery and subsequently became the Head Brewer and Operations Manager. This was around the time of the craft beer revolution in New Zealand, and Tracy was instrumental in introducing new beer styles that were somewhat more flavoursome than the mainstream beers on offer at the time.
After ten years of being the face of Mac’s, Tracy and her husband moved their young family to Dunedin where she took on the role of the first ever female Brewery Manager and Head Brewer of the iconic Speight’s Brewery in the Southern Man Territory. Following a return to Nelson a couple of years later, she then took on a National role looking after Mac’s range of products until Lion Nathan ended the lease of the brewery and the brewery subsequently closed.
Early in 2009, Tracy and her husband acquired a shareholding in Sprig & Fern Brewery and Tracy became the head brewer. The brewery produce some 20 or so products with a number of their beers being multi award winning and this year the brewery was voted runner up Champion Brewery at the Brewers Guild of NZ Beer Awards.
Tracy professes to being a bit of a workaholic, managing to run the brewery and producing an extensive product range and raising three school age children all at the same time. In addition Tracy and her husband own and operate the Sprig & Fern Milton St Tavern, which in September this year was named the Best Bar in New Zealand at the Hospitality NZ awards.Tags: chocolate stout, fish, new zealand, sprig & fern, wells & young