I became interested in beer a few years ago, and an opportunity came up to work on the bar at the Red Lion in Cricklade. I took over managing the cellar there a year before the Hop Kettle Brewing Co. opened, and once that took off I became more and more involved in the brewing at Cricklade. Today, I’ve taken over the entire brewing process at the Red Lion, learning from Tom and the other brewers, and picking things up as we go along. The last year or so I’ve been developing a lot of my own ideas and getting more involved in the design process. We brew twice a week in Cricklade, with an average of 650 litres each time, so I’ve had plenty of time to hone my skills as a brewer.
Proudest achievement in brewing: an oyster stout that was my own personal creation, and the first recipe I developed myself from initial idea all the way through to brewing. I decided to stick to tradition, adding fresh, locally sourced British oysters to the boil. They provide a light briny, salty flavour, working with the malt to fill out the body of the beer.
I also worked with our regular customers to create North Wall, our flagship beer at Cricklade. While we were developing the beer, we put five or six different batches on the bar, so our customers could try them and provide us with feedback, As a result, we were able to refine the recipe to produce a beer that both they and we were happy with.
Personal favourite: I enjoy so many different styles depending on the mood. One of the best beers I’ve ever had was on a trip to Belgium, at the Cantillon brewery. They specialise in Belgian sour beers, and to drink that straight from the barrel in the brewery was a pretty amazing experience.