Friday, January 20, 2012

Brewer of the Week

On Monday I posted about the lovely beers from the Durham Brewery that I had over the Christmas holiday. Sadly that post lacked the pictures of their fine beer in their wonder snifter style glass. One of the attractions of the Durham Brewery is that they do interesting beer taken from history, and while the world seems to have gone loopy for East India Porter, under the guise of "Black IPA", Durham have dipped into brewing history to recreate the pale stout. So without further ado, I give you the man that brews these gorgeous drops of ale!

Name:Steven Gibbs
Brewery:The Durham Brewery

How did you get into brewing as a career?

Instrumental teaching job was disappearing and we had to find something to do. Microbreweries were new and I knew about beer. It was the obvious choice.

What is the most important characteristic of a brewer?

In a large brewery only the ability to push buttons. A micro brewer must understand all aspects of the process and have an open mind to be able to innovate and experiment.

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

Yes, I made beer as far back as my teens. When I started The Durham Brewery I developed a couple of recipes on the homebrew kit. Neither is brewed now but one, Celtic, was very successful.

If you did homebrew, do you still?


What is your favourite beer to brew?

Most beers are very similar and run like clockwork but the beer most difficult is Temptation. Loads of malt to dig out and at the start of fermentation it gets out and walks around the floor, entailing lots of cleaning up and fine temperature control.

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

Never worked in any other brewery.

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

Difficult to say. In cask I prefer traditional malty so Viennese Maltz and Evensong are favoured. In the bottle I prefer complexity so Temptation and Bede's Chalice are tops here. I have a feeling that the new Pale Stout will be a favourite.

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

Define authenticity! Most beers are Durhamised. Bombay 106 is an original recipe as is Temptation, but they are not absolutely authentic, nor can they be. Make an IPA or Russian Stout in modern conditions and they will have modern characteristics. It is impossible to get the original ingredients. Also, modern palates would most likely not take to properly authentic flavours. All we can do is get close to the original beers while being as authentic as possible.

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

Hofstetten. Because the owner is a friend and open to new ideas. I would learn much from him.

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

Old Peculiar

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