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.

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