Originally Posted on Jun 24, 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 Westerham Brewery. Located in Kent, Westerham Brewery has revived many of the much-loved flavours from the old Black Eagle Brewery which closed in 1965. 96% of the hops they use are grown in Kent whilst the malts are from Norfolk and Hertfordshire.
Ethical and green issues are important to them and they have embarked on several initiatives including launching William Wilberforce Freedom Ale, one of the first Fairtrade beers on draught with 10% of the profits going to Stop the Traffik.
Westerham have won numerous awards for their beers. At the International Beer Challenge 2015 five beers won medals, including IBC Gold for their Audit Ale.
Please introduce yourself and tell us what you do I am Robert Wicks, the founder and head brewer at Westerham Brewery. We started the business in 2004 and this year we are building a new brewery in Westerham
When did your love affair with beer begin and what inspired you to pursue your line of work? My godfather was Dick Theakston from the famous brewing family in Yorkshire and he inspired me to brew from a very young age. I was originally going to study Fermentation Technology at Birmingham University but then studied Biochemistry at Oxford. I am now doing applied biochemistry in the brewery!
Where do you see, or hope to see, the brewery in 5 years time? We hope to expand our direct to customer sales and to re-start our tours and events at the new brewery. We see direct engagement with our end customers as the key to our business. We will continue to grow the gluten free bottled beer sales which are the fastest growing part of our business at the moment.
Are there any other breweries which have influenced you? Black Sheep, Odell Brewing, Sierra Nevada and Rebellion
What do you see as the latest beer styles to look out for in 2016? English IPAs which are balanced.
Do you have any advice for budding brewers? Buy really high quality equipment and make sure your business is well capitalised.
What do you think makes a great beer? Balance, balance and balance. Too many beers are over hopped or with too high ABV and lack the essential balance of the best beers. We love hops but we also love malt and a balanced beer.
What was your first drink and where were you when you had it? Beer. Probably at home with my Dad in County Durham
What drink can you no longer face having had one too many? Harvey’s Bristol Cream aged 13
If you had to pick, which would be your top three beers in the whole world? Sierra Nevada Torpedo IPA, Timothy Taylor Landlord and Westerham Audit Ale
What is the silliest thing you’ve done whilst drunk? Put a condom on my head and blow it up.
What is the best part of your job? Seeing people enjoy our beer and telling us how much they enjoy it. It is particularly poignant when the drinker is a coeliac who is drinking our gluten free beer for the first time.
Thanks to Robert and Westerham Brewery for chatting to us.
You can view and buy beers from Westerham Brewery here.