Originally Posted on Jul 27, 2016
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 Shepherd Neame. Shepherd Neame are Britain’s oldest brewers and have been based in Faversham, Kent, since 1698. They use the finest traditional ingredients in their beers, including water from their own artesian well located deep beneath the brewery.
Who are you/what do you do? Richard Frost, head brewer at Shepherd Neame, Britain’s oldest brewer in Faversham, Kent.
When did your love affair with beer begin? It all started with my first visit to the pub with friends – the mix of beer and good company can’t be beaten. I got into the industry straight after university. I had enjoyed a few brewery tours as part of my Biology degree and my Dad, a barley merchant, gave me the names of some breweries to contact. I joined Wolves & Dudley and did an old-fashioned brewing pupillage at Hanson’s brewery in Dudley. 37 years later I am still learning and still enjoying working in this great industry.
Where do you see, or hope to see, the brewery in 5 years time? Still brewing great beers.
Are there any other breweries which have influenced you? I learnt a lot about ale brewing and packaging at Wolves & Dudley, then lager brewing at Camerons Brewery in Hartlepool. Contract and licenced brewing always brings new skills and experience so I have learnt a great deal from the brewers at customers such as Kronenbourg, Guinness, Heineken, Tetley’s, Asahi and more recently Boston Beer Co.
What have you found to be the hardest thing to master when learning to brew? The trickiest part has to be keeping all the balls in the air when managing a complex operation – having said that I get a great deal of satisfaction when things all go to plan.
What do you think makes a great beer? It has to be the perfect balance of flavours from malt and hops. There are plenty of beers where one of these flavours predominates and while they may be interesting to drink they don’t leave me wanting another. Perfectly balanced beers always leave me wanting more.
What was your first drink and where were you when you had it? I suspect it was a bottle of brown ale at a tender age in my Mum and Dad’s kitchen.
What drink can you no longer face having had one too many? I had a bad experience with Metaxa brandy in Corfu once and struggled to face brandy for several years after that.
What is your favourite style of beer? Different beers suit different occasions so I don’t have a favourite style, but I will always drink cask beer when possible in the pub.
What is the silliest thing you’ve done whilst drunk? Climbing over the wall of an open-air swimming pool with some friends and diving into the shallow end after celebrating completing my first year exams at Nottingham Uni. It was much shallower than we thought – I escaped relatively unscarred but a friend was not so lucky – he broke his nose on the bottom.
What is the best part of your job? Two things spring to mind. Firstly the people in the industry- all the breweries I have worked at have been full of great characters and there are plenty more in the trade and amongst our suppliers. Secondly, a sense of pride from being in a busy pub where people are having a great time drinking beer brewed by my team.
You are stuck on a desert island, what three things are you taking with you? A good book, a fishing line so I can eat and a cask of Spitfire Gold – yes, it won’t last long but the first few days will be fun.
Thanks to Richard and Shepherd Neame for taking the time to chat with us.
You can browse and buy beers from Shepherd Neame here.