Question and Answer Session With Adam Button from Calvors Brewery , Suffolk
(Adam Button -Calvors Brewery)
Q: Who are you/what do you do?
A: We are Calvors Brewery, based in Coddenham, Suffolk and we’ve been brewing since 2008. Calvors was founded to brew and market quality Suffolk Lager – brewed honestly, without compromise and with close consideration for the environment.
In 2008 Calvors became one of only three specialist Lager micro-breweries in England.
We brew English Lagers without the chemicals and preservatives found in mass-produced beers. We brew by hand using only four ingredients: water, malt, hops and yeast.
Yes, we're passionate about our lager brewing history, but we love brewing ales too! In 2013 we began producing cask ales, introducing our Smooth Hoperator pale ale. This was followed by our Suffolk Graduate Best Bitter, various seasonal ales and most recently our Session IPA and American Red.
Fundamental to Calvors Brewery is a set of principles by which the brewery operates: No compromise - Produce a quality product - Provide first-rate service - Support UK industry. All of which are underpinned by a close consideration for our environment and fun-loving ethos (we are selling beer after all).
Calvors bring a fresh approach to brewing – an honest approach. An approach that challenges the integrity and flavour of mass-production beers and breweries.
Q: What was the inspiration for starting the brewery?
A: Calvors founder Alec Williamson established the brewery on his family farm, which has been passed down through the generations – Now called Home Farm, but previously known as Calvors Farm, where the brewery takes it’s name. Always keen to make use of the farm and develop opportunities, Alec researched various possible businesses before arriving at brewing.
The idea was to identify something through which we could potentially add value to something grown on the farm. He researched bread and biscuits but found no particular niches. Alec then thought about ale, but that is very competitive and he didn’t want to be known just for pinching someone else’s market. That is how he came to focus on lager.
Calvors Brewery was built on a strong environmental philosophy – in fact it’s one of the primary reasons that the brewery exists today. Careful consideration for the environment remains very much at the heart of what we do, from biodegradable filter sheets to the locally sourced malted barley, our footprint is always considered. After every brew, the spent grain is composted on the farm and later used to fertilise the fields.
Q: Where do you see, or hope to see, the brewery in 5 years’ time?
A: We will continue brewing great English lagers and ales and give the British lager drinking public proper, genuine and honest beers. In doing so, we hope to expose main-stream ‘lagers’ and breweries and the shady practices that have given lager a bad reputation. Lager will always be at the forefront of what we do, but our aim is to become a major player in the craft beer world for lager and ale. Our brewery has been build and developed to provide a huge brewing capacity so we are in a fantastic position to continue our growth and further widen the reach of Calvors beers.
Q: Are there any other breweries that have influenced your brewery?
A: I guess on some level you could say the big brand, mass-production ‘lager’ breweries have influenced us – in a sense of how not to do things. Lager got a bad reputation thanks to the watery, tasteless beers that have been passed off as lager in the past. They are a poor representation of the fantastic flavorsome lager styles originating from Germany and the Czech Republic. Our mission is to offer quality real lagers as alternatives to the mainstream. In that respect Camden and Meantime have certainly influenced us in the past although they are both now part of AB InBev.
Q: The craft beer movement seems to be going from strength to strength. Why do you think brewing been such a great success in recent years?
A: It really does continue to grow from strength to strength and I think there are several reasons for it. Reports tell us that consumers (particularly younger people) are drinking less but when they do drink, they are willing to spend a little more to try new drinks and/or drink quality. This has been the case in the wine industry for quite some time and in recent years has translated to the craft beer sector – more so as the number of breweries and beers increases. The ‘buy local’ movement continues to grow in prominence as consumers become increasingly aware of food-miles and carbon footprint. In some respects we’re going full circle back to time before produce was bought from all of the country and from overseas. It’s not just environmental either, I think consumers are just becoming more socially aware and supportive of smaller producers rather than multi-nationals, which of course benefits craft breweries.
Q: What do you see as the latest beer styles to look out for in 2020/2021?
A: Hoppy IPA’s will always be popular in the craft world but I think we will see more hoppy lagers or IPL’s. For Calvors we are about quality craft alternatives to the mainstream, rather than the more ‘out there’ styles - although I have no doubt we will play around with some dry-hopped varieties and some exciting new ales! Kegged pale ales are also becoming a staple on tap so I’m sure we will be seeing more of that.
Q: Looking ahead, what new stuff can we expect from you?
A: We are very excited about our latest batch of Dunkel, which is lagering as we speak. It’s been a little while since we’ve had it kegged and this will be the first time we run it through our canning line so we are really looking forward to getting that back out into the market again. We also have some exciting ales being planned for the Summer and later in the year, with some totally new hops. There are also murmurings of a stout and dry hopped lager, so we hope that will come later on too.
Q: What is the best part of your job?
A: In the on-trade, the best thing is taking a mass-produced ‘fake lager’ off a tap and replacing it with a Calvors Helles, Pilsner or Vienna! That always feels like a major win for craft beer and a clear indication of what the consumer wants. Other than that, all of us at Calvors love attending events, pouring our beers and chatting to craft beer fans directly. The feedback is always a real boost.
Q: What was your first drink and where were you when you had it?
A : So I’m told, I had my very first alcoholic drink by accident, mistaking some low alcohol wine for lemonade! I was quite a bit under the legal drinking age! My first memorable drink as a teen was on holiday in La Rochelle, France. I couldn’t tell you the brand or if it was any good, but it was definitely a lager and in a stubby little bottle.
Q: If you have to pick (we know, tough choice!) which would be your top three beers in the whole world?
A: That is a tough choice!... but for me I would say Pilsner Urquell, Jupiler and Guinness (if you take Calvors out of the equation of course).
Q: You are stuck on a desert island, what three things are you taking with you?
A: My wife and two daughters… then figure everything else out after that!
The whole range from Calvors Brewery is available here>>