Q and A, UK Beer and Breweries

Wold Top Brewery | Q&A

Wold Top Brewery | Q&A
Originally Posted on Jan 20, 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 Wold Top Brewery.

Who are you/what do you do?   Hello I am Alex Balchin and I am the brewing and packaging manager for Wold Top Brewery. With my team, I look after the whole process. We take great ingredients and use them with our skill and passion to turn them into super tasting beers.

How did you get into this line of work?   I always enjoyed a good pint as a student at university and as chance would have it I ended up marrying into a family which owned a brewery!

What is your favourite beer, wine or spirit?   I am a big fan of beer (you sort of have to be to do the job), with beer you get such variety from relatively few raw ingredients (water, malt, hops and yeast). I also think you can pair beer to food better than wine sometimes.

What do you think makes a great beer?   I think a great beer starts with great ingredients. You wouldn’t bake a cake with poor ingredients and expect it to taste good! The same applies to beer. With passion, skill and craftsmanship you can take those ingredients and lift them to elegance in a glass.

What was your first drink and where were you when you had it?   My first proper pint was in my local pub in the village where I grew up, it’s a 17 century building with beams and wonky walls and after a shift pulling pints it was nice to have one at the end.

What is your favourite style of beer?   As I brew beer I can appreciate nearly all styles of beer as I can understand what has gone into making it. Not really sure I have a favourite.

Bottled or canned beer?   We currently bottle but don’t can our beers. The decision was made before I joined the company but I think looking at the market  there is a place for both formats. We will keep watching and see how it develops.

If you have to pick, which would be your top three beers in the whole world?   Not sure I could pick three there are so many that are really good.

What is the best part of your job?   The best part of the job: When someone takes the time to tell you how much they enjoyed the beer that you helped create. It is such a satisfying feeling you really know you have done good at that point.

What was the inspiration for starting the brewery?   The brewery was started by my parents in-law as a farm diversification project, a way to bring extra revenue into the farm when commodity prices were low in the early 2000’s.

Where do you see, or hope to see, the brewery in 5 years time?   In 5 years time I will have been with Wold Top 10 years. In the previous 5 we have developed our bottled and export sales and we aim to continue with those. We are always trying to make ourselves better and I can’t see that stopping anytime soon.

Are there any other breweries which have influenced you?   I think all breweries influence each other. Although there are lots of breweries around now it is a close industry. By and large people are normally quite happy to talk and help each other out when needed.

How long have you been brewing at Wold Top?   I have been here for 5 years now and the time has flown by.

Out of all the beers you brew, which is your favourite? Why is that?   I have a soft spot for Scarborough Fair IPA, it has enough bitterness to know it’s there without being bitter for bitters sake as well as being balanced enough to get the sweetness of the malt but still have a hoppy nose and flavour. I love it on a summer’s evening in the garden just admiring the world around you.

Where did you learn to brew?   On the job, and from talking to people who have more experience than me.

What is the hardest thing to master when learning to brew?   You have to remember you are using natural ingredients with a living organism (yeast) being fundamental to the end product and sometimes living things don’t always react the way you expect them to.

Have you always been a brewer or did you do different jobs before this?   This is the first full time job I have had since leaving university and I really can’t see myself doing anything else.

Thank you to Alex and Wold Top Brewery for taking the time to take part.

You can view and buy beers from Wold Top Brewery here.