Q and A, UK Beer and Breweries

Woodforde’s | Q&A

Woodforde’s | Q&A
Originally Posted on Nov 25, 2015

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 Woodforde’s.
Woodforde’s has been brewing beer for over 30 years using only the finest Norfolk malting barley. It is one of a handful of brewers to have brewed two Champion Beers of Britain, including Wherry, its best-selling beer.
The brewery, which is nestled in the heart of the Norfolk Broads in Woodbastwick, has an on-site Visitor Centre where visitors can take a tour of the brewery (on pre-arranged dates, bookable in advance). The brewery tap, The Fur and Feather Inn, is located next-door.
Woodforde’s has been named Brewery of the Year 2015 by the Good Pub Guide.

Who are you/what do you do?   Belinda Jennings, Head Brewer at Woodforde’s

How did you get into this line of work?   I have always worked in liquids but started out testing milk! After just five weeks in post a job came up testing beer (a liquid I much prefer!) so I moved into beer and haven’t looked back! I’ve now been in the industry for over 18 years.

What do you think makes a great beer?   Quite simply, balance! Balanced beers are exceptionally difficult to achieve which makes them so special. Extensive work behind the scenes to test and re-test to achieve great balance is what we strive for at Woodforde’s and is what our beers are renowned for.

What is your favourite style of beer?   A hoppy IPA. I absolutely love the fruitiness and fullness of this style.

If you have to pick, which would be your top three beers in the whole world?   I really admire Dark Star’s Revelation – great colour and very full flavoured. Beavertown Black Betty is fantastic as it completely subverts your expectations – it’s a dark beer but light and hoppy. Very clever! And of course, Woodforde’s Bure Gold is an outstanding beer – hoppy, light and very easy to drink.

What is the best part of your job?   I love the science of beer so I enjoy devising recipes and securing fantastic raw materials to use in our brews!

What was the inspiration for starting the brewery?   Woodforde’s was established in 1981 by Ray Ashworth and Dr David Crease, both enthusiastic members of the Norwich Homebrewers’ Society. The brewery was amongst the new wave of cask ale brewers which started up in the 1980’s and Woodforde’s quickly became a by-word for consistency and excellence. The passion and consistency remain today, with several of our dedicated brewery team having worked with us for over 25 years.

Where do you see, or hope to see, the brewery in 5 years time?   The aim is to preserve the quality and flavour of our beers but to increase the range we offer and perhaps expand the brewing capacity to over 30,000 barrels.

Are there any other breweries which have influenced you?   Greene King and Adnams are where I started my career so they initially influenced my approach to beer and brewing. That said, as a tasting consumer all breweries influence me to some degree – they constantly shape my thinking and inform my decisions in the ever-changing modern beer world we now live in.

Where did you learn to brew?   I learnt to brew at Greene King where I started out as a lab technician. I then moved to Adnams where I was the Quality Manager and Brewer. It was during this time I qualified as a Master Brewer. I now deliver seminars and tasting sessions about brewing, as well as run brewery tours at our brewery in Woodbastwick.

What is the hardest thing to master when learning to brew?   It’s definitely understanding the science of brewing and how the raw materials work together to develop such an incredible range of flavours.

Have you always been a brewer or did you do different jobs before this?   Once a brewer always a brewer! Well, apart from my brief dalliance in the dairy sector!

Thank you to Belinda and Woodforde’s for taking the time to take part.

You can view and buy beers from Woodforde’s here.