CellarMonk - Revere Beer :: Home
- Written by TheCellarMonk
The time has come to restart our monthly interviews with professional brewers. Since breweries seem to be opening once every 35 seconds or so, we will probably not run out of interview subjects anytime soon. Now up, our next guest in the Comfy Computer Chair of Fame, is a brewer that hails from West Yorkshire, United Kingdom. With nearly 15 years in the industry he's a right "old timer" (compared to the multitudes of new brewers entering the brewing scene). Please welcome to Cellarmonk, Ossett Brewing Company's head brewer, Mr. Paul Spencer.
Name(s): Paul Spencer - @paulspencer1973
Brewery Name: Ossett Brewing Co Ltd, Ossett, West Yorkshire, England
How long have you beer head brewer/brewmaster there?
Fifteen years (almost)
Any type of formal training in brewing science or art? If not, how did you learn the craft?
I studied chemistry at university and worked in the chemical industry for a number of years before making a career change to brewing. Already an experienced home brewer, upon joining Ossett Brewery I was trained in all aspects of the business by owner Bob Lawson, himself a former brewer at Tetley's in Leeds and more recently Kelham Island in Sheffield. While at Ossett I have taken the IBD Brewing Diploma.
If you will, a brief history of your brewing experience (where have you brewed)?
My interest in beer and brewing began when I was a child, helping my father to make Boots home brew kits in the kitchen. In my mid-teens I graduated to extract brewing and can recall supplying school friends with home brewed brown ale at my school Christmas disco! Shortly after leaving school I started drinking a wide range of real ales at the Rat and Ratchet in Huddersfield (a pub which Ossett now owns!) which really inspired me to learn more about beer and brewing. In the early 90's I bought Graham Wheeler's CAMRA book (How to Brew Your Own Real Ales at Home) and quickly moved onto full mash brewing. By now I had moved from Huddersfield to Ossett and chose the wonderful Brewers Pride as my new local, not least because it happened to be installing its own microbrewery at the time! I loved the Ossett beers from the beginning, while becoming ever more disillusioned with my job in the chemical industry. When in 2001 a job came up for brewer/salesperson/driver/general dogsbody, I couldn't get my application in fast enough. Owner Bob Lawson and I hit it off and I started working for Ossett as soon as I could escape the chemical company, swapping a one hour commute on the M62 for a ten minute walk across the fields to work in the process. It was one of the best decision I have ever made. When I joined Ossett, I was only the second employee, but in the years since the company has grown a great deal and now has a pub company with 25 pubs in the estate. Two of these pubs (The Riverhead in Marsden and Fernandes in Wakefield) had established breweries on site when they were purchased and I automatically took responsibility for brewing on these two sites as well, although both now have full time members of staff who brew every day under my guidance. In 2011, the company decided to install a six barrel Dave Porter brewery at the Rat and Ratchet in Huddersfield (where if you recall I began my love affair with beer), and the new Rat Brewery became my pet project. Once set up, we again installed full time brewers at Rat, although I still get across there to brew myself whenever possible.
How large is the brewery (# of barrels annually)?
Ossett can produce in the region of 12,500 bbl annually, with the three subsidiary brew pubs contributing another 3,000 bbl. All four breweries are currently working at capacity.
Is it automated or is there a lot of exercise involved in your brewery's operation?
There is very little automation other than temperature control, and the health app that my daughter installed on my phone reckons I walk on average of twelve miles a day when I'm at work. If I got a desk job, I'd probably put on weight very quickly.
- Written by TheCellarMonk
Once again we are starting up with our interviews of the worlds homebrewers. Our latest hails from the UK and as strange as it seems homebrew's to save money (or at least keep more of his own). After quickly dusting off the Comfy Computer Chair of Fame, allow us to introduce to you homebrewer, Mr. Ady Goodrich
Name: - Ady Goodrich
Day Job: - Architectural Project Technologist
When did you start homebrewing?
Started kits in 2011, but graduated to all grain in August 2012.
What got you into homebrewing? A person? An unfulfilled interest? Sheer boredom?
I liked drinking most ales in the pub, but started drinking more at home when babysitting sleeping newly arrived kids. Shop bought quality beer was expensive and people kept on coming round to visit and clearing me out, so a home brewing obsession began. I started with kits but they never really hit the spot, or felt like I was drinking beer as good as the pub. My brother in law introduced me to beer produced from raw ingredients in a Braumeister, and since tasting that I had to go all grain.
Do you belong to a homebrew club? What is it?
I’m not a member of a club yet, but regularly swap home brewed beer with people nearby and on Twitter. I’m hoping with the opening of a Brewdog pub in town, a local home-brew club will follow very soon.
- Written by TheCellarMonk
There has been an explosion in America of the introduction of cask ale offerings from craft brewers (usually local brewers). For those uninitiated, we thought we'd put together a small primer on the basics of cask ale. Hopefully this will help if you just happen to run across a cask ale offering at a local taproom or you happen to be traveling in the United Kingdom.
Cask ale is also called cask-conditioned beer (very similar to bottle conditioning of beer). It is unpasteurized, unfiltered beer which is served from the same cask in which it was conditioned including secondary fermentation. This secondary fermentation in the cask is where the beer will produce all the carbonation that it will eventually have. Priming sugar and finings (filter agents) may be be added at filling to aid in the production of carbonating gas and clarity in the beer. Once the beer is finished the casks can be stored on their sides or on their ends.
“Cask” originally referred to a wooden container held by iron loops. Most cask ale is now delivered in metal cask or plastic casks due to their durability during shipment and storage and their practicality overall. Once a cask has been delivered from the brewer to the publican, it is the publican's knowledge of his wares that will decide when each cask will be tapped (some casks may need extra time to fully condition to the publicans taste). There are a number of pub chains that actively have "Cask Master" programs for the continued cask education of the publican.
Cask ale terminology:
Firkin – This is the cask or barrel. Historically made of wood, but are now usually stainless steel or plastic. They come in a variety of sizes.
Bung – The plastic or wood stoppers used to plug the bung holes of the firkin after fill-up.
Shive Bung – The bung located on the top of the firkin that vents the firkin as the beer is drawn out
Spile – A wooden peg pounded through the shive bung that allows excess CO2 to vent, and air to flow in as the beer is drawn out of the firkin. There are two different types (think hard or soft) depending on the amount of gases that are needed to pass through the bung.
Keystone Bung – The bung at the front bottom of the firkin through which the tap is pounded so you can pour out the beer.
Tap – The spout/spigot that is pounded through the keystone and allows the beer to drain out of the firkin.
Beer Engine - A beer engine is a device for pumping beer, originally manually operated and typically used to dispense beer from a cask or container in a pub's basement or cellar.