Q and A, UK Beer and Breweries

Wychwood Brewery | Q&A

Wychwood Brewery | Q&A
Originally Posted on Nov 20, 2013

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? This post introduces Jon Tillson, a brewer for Wychwood Brewery.

Who are you/what do you do?  Jon Tillson, 2nd Brewer.  Brewer of tea and beer at Wychwood Brewery

What do you think makes a great beer?  The important thing here is individuality. ‘One man’s pleasure is another man’s poison’. The range of beers and styles you can now enjoy from all over the globe to me is very exciting. Often you can get too wrapped up in temperatures, glass wear, styles. Try beers, different types of beers and most importantly enjoy your beer how you want and with an open mind.

What was your first drink and where were you when you had it?  I was too young to remember. Apparently at toddling age, dad left his can of best bitter unattended whilst he worked on the garden. With straw in hand I promptly emptied the whole can. Who knows, that event probably shaped by career!

What drink can you no longer face having had one too many?  I used to love and still do appreciate wine. However, we keep falling out. I love wine, but for some reason it’s taken a dislike to me. We don’t talk much anymore!

What is your favourite style of beer?  There’s no way I could choose, the diversity of styles is what I love.

If you have to pick, which would be your top three beers in the whole world?  It’s a tough one, but outside of our own brands it’d have to be:
Westvleteren 12 – Having to travel to the monastery adds to the whole experience of a Westvleteren. We try and go a couple of times a year.  Drinking a Westvleteren in the Flanders sunshine at the In De Vrede is an experience to behold.
Bathams Best Bitter – Sometimes the traditional bitter gets forgotten amongst the new styles. This is a sensational best bitter, doesn’t sing, dance or shout from the rooftops, but is never the less spectacular.
Affligem Biere Noel –The men in our family enjoy an annual Christmas pilgrimage to St Malo. Meandering around in search of what we affectionately call the ‘Holy Grail’. Beautiful.

What is the silliest thing you’ve done whilst drunk?  Me, drunk, never ……………………!

What is the best part of your job?  The people. Brewing is quite a close knit community with experience and knowledge shared regularly. Brewers and beer lovers alike tend to be interesting, amenable and possibly slightly eccentric.

How long have you been brewing for Wychwood?  21 Years  – I use brewing loosely. I started washing barrels after school when I was 15, I’ve been brewing now for about 12 years.

How did you become a brewer? Where did you learn to brew?   I began at Wychwood on a 2 week work experience placement much to the disgust of the career adviser! Vets, banks, electricians ……………. No thanks, dad knew the Founder/Head Brewer at Wychwood, Chris Moss and off I went. Turned out to be a one of the best decisions I ever made.  The late Chris Moss was my biggest influence.  He was a very eccentric character, hugely enthusiastic and passionate about brewing. Having nearly completed my Master Brewer qualification, I owe much to him.

What is the hardest thing to master when learning to brew?  Juggling – Brewing with very ‘hands on’ equipment requires keeping quite a few balls up in the air.

Are there any other brewers and/or breweries which have influenced you?  The craft brewing industry’s resurgence is a very exciting time with a constant flow of great ideas producing great beers. I love the innovation of everything Thornbridge and the very interesting Marstons Single Hop range to name a couple.

Where do you see, or hope to see, the brewery in 5 years’ time?  Seeing the growth of Hobgoblin from its inception in an 8 barrel microbrewery to the global brand it is today has been a very rewarding experience. I’d love to see it as the UK’s bestselling premium ale in cask and bottle format. I believe that’s not far away, it’s a great beer.

Out of all the beers you brew, which is your favourite? Why is that?  Blackwych – Without question my desert island beer. Having been unavailable for 4 years, its return is imminent. Good job too as I have 1 case left in my garage! Blackwych is a quintessential stout and is without question a ‘try before you die’ beer.

Have you always been a brewer or did you do different jobs before this?  I completed a business degree many years ago and worked in accounts for a while. Didn’t quite last a year at my desk before the call of brewing brought me home.

If there were a beer that you could brew without worrying about cost or sales, what would it be and why?  I have regular banter with our Marketing guys about my dream beer. It’d be called Perfect 10 – A 10% beer with trappist influences packaged in a 750ml champagne bottle, bottle conditioned with champagne yeast. One day ……… who knows, I’m convinced there’s a market for it.
Thank you to Jon for taking the time to take part. You can find out more about Wychwood Brewery by visiting their website or by following Jon on Twitter.

Who would you like to find out more about? Leave a comment and we’ll see what we can do!