After last week’s break in our regular Meet The Brewer feature we return with a bang, This week it’s the turn of Stuart Howe from, Sharp’s Brewery. I was really pleased when Stuart agreed to take part in the feature as I’ve been following his blog for a while now and he brews some of my favourite beers. So over to Stuart…
What is your brewery capacity?
Brew length 150 barrels, FV/CT capacity 1900 barrels per week
What is different about your brewery?
We are the biggest brewery in the world to use a mash tun, whole hops, open squares, conditioning tanks and sustainable brewing techniques to make cask ales. Most companies sending out our kind of volumes use more accountant-friendly brewing techniques (lauter tuns, hop products, cylindroconical FVs, centrifuges etc).
How long have you been brewing for?
How did you get into brewing?
Since it has been legal for me to do so I have always loved beer. Thinking I had a glittering future as a rugby player I left school with a GCSE in woodwork. When I realised my true calling was brewing I had to do A’ levels at night school before getting the Heriot-Watt brewing degree.
What beers do you brew regularly?
Cornish Coaster, Doom Bar, Own, Special, Single Brew Reserve, Atlantic IPA, St Enodoc Double, Honey Spice Triple, Massive Ale, Chalky’s Bite, Chalky’s Bark and Eden Ale
What special/seasonal beers do you brew?
4 seasonal brews plus a Christmas beer, my blog beers and other experimental brews. I usually brew about 8 different brands per week all told a couple of which are new entities.
Where do you think the future of brewing lies?
The future of beer lies in appealing flavours and sustainable brewing. Consumers of food and drink are getting more discerning and beer needs to be able to meet their needs. Accessibility along with flavour quality and consistency will be key to achieving this. The beer world seems to be polarizing at present, with extremely flavoursome beers at one end and extremely flavourless ones at the other. People and organisations who champion beer should be careful about making extreme synonymous with excellent or it will alienate prospective beer lovers.
To suggest that we can get more people to drink beer by making it taste extreme is complete and utter bollocks. We should also never forget our heritage in the quest for innovation. We don’t need to change beer to make it appeal to people, we just need to brew it well and market it cleverly. As the Environment becomes more and more significant, wasteful and energy-intensive breweries won’t be able to survive. Brewers need to think about the environment as well as the customer.
What is your proudest moment in brewing?
Winning World’s Best Abbey Beer in the World Beer Competition with a beer brewed in Cornwall.
Do you have any brewing regrets?
Not spending longer brewing in Belgium
What is your brewing ambition?
To give non-brewers an insight into how complicated and elegant the brewing process is. Also to make a beer that appeals to zealots and casual drinkers alike. This of course is impossible because as soon as a beer becomes popular, an enclave of radical beer extremists will put a fatwa on it. Familiarity breeds resentment.
What was last beer you drank?
I â€œsampledâ€ 10 gyles of Doom Bar and a gyle of 6Hop IPA at 8:30 this morning. The last beer I â€œdrankâ€ was an Arrogant Bastard at about 1AM on Sunday morning. I spent the next day wishing I hadn’t!
What is your favourite hop?
That’s tough. All hops have their virtues. If forced, I’d say Bobek. It’s petite, soft and fragrant without being brash. It would be easy to choose an American variety but true beauty is impossible without modesty.
Do you have a Brewing hero/inspiration?
I have had the benefit of working for some brilliant brewers and drinking with a few more. As a brewer I think you are better off respecting and being influenced by other brewers than to be in awe of them. Reg Drury from Fullers was my hero before I got into brewing. ESB was one of the first beers I fell in love with. I got to meet him at the GBBF and he said nice things about my beer. I didn’t stop smiling for an hour!
Which beer do you wish you had brewed?
Duvel. It has everything in my opinion.
Favourite hobby outside of brewing?
Indoor rowing and cage fighting with anyone who slates my beer.
If you could have one superpower what would it be?
The ability to manufacture time, I get about 10 mins a day of spare time. I’d love to be able make some more so I could get everything done. Either that or X ray vision for all the wrong reasons!
Anything else you want to tell us?
Other than declaring my undying love for you and your followers I think that’s it.
Thanks to Stuart for taking time out of his busy schedule to fill this in, please go and read his blog here it is really good, especially the stuff on his 52 brews project.
You can also visit the Sharp’s website here and buy there beers, I highly recommend Chalky’s Bite and Chalky’s Bark