Are you curious to know about the people behind the beers you buy? Or perhaps you want to know what inspires brewers to brew and beer bloggers to blog? Our “Q&A” posts are a light hearted way of getting to know people working in, and connected to, the beer and alcohol industry.
Today’s post features Lacons who are located in Great Yarmouth. We’ve been chatting to Wil and discovering more about the Brewery’s rich history.
Who are you/what do you do? Wil Wood, head brewer. My job is not only to oversee everything we do in a brewing capacity but to come up with new recipes and modernise vintage Lacons recipes from our extensive archive for todays drinker. I work closely with the rest of the business to make sure what we brew is what our consumers want and that we consistently brew to the highest standards.
When did your love affair with beer begin? A long time ago! I’ve been a home brewer since I was 15, me and a friend from school used to make beer in our spare time! After a break, I went back to it in the 1980s when I had young kids then I started working for Oakham Ales in the 1990s, which is where you could say my brewing ‘career’ began.
What’s the story behind the brewery name and logo? In 1760 Mr Edmund Laycon managed a brewery in Great Yarmouth’s famous medieval Rows. In 1782, he decided to drop the ‘y’ in his name and that is where the first mention of ‘Lacons Brewery’ was seen. The brewery grew and grew from there and over the next 200 years the brewery passed from father to son. The Falcon has always been the company logo and mascot and can still be seen in the brickwork of many ex-Lacons buildings or pubs across the region.
We note the brewery re-opened after an absence of 45 years, can you tell us about the brewery’s history? The brewery was very successful and at its peak owned around 350 public houses throughout East Anglia and in London. This attracted the Whitbread brewery, which was interested in the properties for themselves, to use as outlets to sell their own beer. In 1957 Whitbread bought a 20% stake of Lacons Brewery and in 1965 took complete control over the brewery. By 1968 they had shut it down, with the loss of 150 jobs.
Where do you see, or hope to see, the brewery in 5 years time? Brewing and selling lots more beer! We’ve won a lot of awards for our beer in the last 3 years and have been recognised on a regional, national and international level – I love making great beer and want to make it even greater!
Looking ahead, what new things can we expect from Lacons over the coming months? We are currently planning a huge brewery expansion project for early next year which should see our capacity go up 10 fold. We are really thrilled about these changes as currently we are brewing as quick as we can sell our beer as demand is very high. Expect to see more beer and new additions in the coming months as we maintain and optimise our brewing calendar. It’s a very exciting time for Lacons Brewery!
Are there any other breweries which have influenced you? Working for Oakham Ales has had a huge influence on me. They were the 1st big brewery in the UK to brew English style American hopped beers, which made them game changers in the industry. That was inspirational. They influenced a lot of others in the late 1990s and early 2000s, as you saw with a lot of new breweries being set up during this time in this vane, moving away from traditional ‘bitters’ to lighter ales.
Working for Fyne Ales showed me how much I enjoyed having the power to try new things and have control over the brewing process. I am constantly developing new ideas and like to experiment to stay at the top of my game. I think this is important in the fast paced brewing industry.
What have you found to be the hardest thing to master when learning to brew? Managing relationships with suppliers and sourcing the best ingredients on time and at the right price is an interesting part of the job!
What do you think makes a great beer? Top quality ingredients, especially the hops.
What was your first drink and where were you when you had it? Newcastle Brown Ale in the Lake District.
What drink can you no longer face having had one too many? Southern Comfort – it’s just too sweet!
What is your favourite style of beer? Pale beers and IPAs.
What is the silliest thing you’ve done whilst drunk? I’m a sensible drinker!
What is the best part of your job? Brewing beers that have a special place in people’s hearts. Meeting people at the Lacons museum and hearing about their personal history with the brewery. It’s both heart-warming and fascinating.
You are stuck on a desert island, what three things are you taking with you? My wife, dog and some of my beer (and probably in that order!)
Thanks to Wil for chatting to us.