Keeping it real … Real Ale
#BeerBuddies is a new part of my blog that I am putting together containing interviews with people that I have met either online or in person via sharing the same passion about beer.
My first #BeerBuddies is with Trevor Jeffery of Billericay Brewing, when I first heard there was a brewery and bottle shop in Billericay I was over the moon that finally somewhere close and accessible to me would be making and selling decent beer. I first tried Mayflower Gold in The Alehouse in Chelmsford and was impressed. One of my favourite beer related evenings was at Billericay Brewing with a meet the brewer night with Logan from Beavertown. Billericay Brewing has gone from strength to strength over the last couple of years and I look forward to each progression of theirs. So I would like to thank Trevor for being my first #BeerBuddies and here we go…
1. You used to be a teacher, what was it that made you change your career and become a full time brewer?
I’ve always had a passion and love of beer and on and off been a home brewer for many years. My dad was a keen home brewer of beers & wines, making them out of anything he could find. I originally qualified as a chemist (I worked for an industrial paint company prior to going into teaching) and this background led to me following in my father’s footsteps as a home brewer. 4 years ago I went to Brentwood Brewery for one of their “Brewer for The Day” experiences with a couple of friends and enjoyed the day so much that I thought “I Could do That!” and here I am 4 years later with my own brewery.
2. You have recently completed the set up of Billericay Brewing Co microbrewery, for those who haven’t visited the brewery could you run us by your equipment and give us a little online tour?
Our premises in Chapel Street, Billericay is in 2 parts – The Essex Beer Shop (selling our own beers and beers from other Essex & London microbreweries plus UK & international guest ales) and the microbrewery.
The microbrewery is a 4.5 barrel plant and if you visit the shop you can view the brewery. Starting at the back of the brewery, it follows the brewing process:
2 water tanks (a cold liquor tank – CLT – and a hot liquor tank –HLT) for storing water (water is called liquor in the brewery) ready for brewing.
Mash tun – where the malted grains are soaked in hot water to extract the sugar, colour and flavours from the grain (the liquid is now called wort)
Copper (actually made of stainless steel, but traditionally were made with copper) where the wort is boiled with hops.
Hop back and Heat exchanger – after boiling of the wort the hops are filtered out and then the wort is cooled down.
2 fermenting vessels – the cooled wort is then pumped into one of two fermenting vessels. Yeast is then added and fermentation then takes about 1 week to convert the sugar into alcohol and produce the finished beer.
The finished beer is then either filled into casks or pumped to a bottling tank, from which we connect our hand bottling machine and we can fill into bottles.
We can produce 2 batches per week, but have space for a 3rd fermenter, which we hope to install in the New Year. Each batch is up to 1296 pints.
3. What is your thought process when creating a new beer?
Any beer I brew has to be one that I will enjoy drinking myself. I take inspiration from other beers that I have tried and enjoyed, knowing the likely combination of malt & hops that I enjoy. I’m still experimenting with styles of beer and now we are a commercial brewery I have to look at which styles we do not offer and which are likely to sell and take account of the time of year for the style of beer. However, it still has to be something I would like myself. Sometimes I have a name already for the beer and produce a beer to match the name, but often I know the beer I would like to create and then choose a name whilst brewing!
4. It is impossible to pick out one favourite beer of all time but what are the first three top beers you have had recently?
Very difficult to choose, but at this moment in time the beers that come to mind are:
Brew by Numbers Tripel using Mosaic hops
Weird Beard Something Something Darkside
Felstar Crix Forest
Of our own beers, the one I’ve enjoyed most was a bottle of Chapel Street Porter from our first batch (now over 6 months old)
5. Your beers have featured in many beer festivals this summer. What has been your favourite beer festival you have ever visited?
I think for the location, an early Chappel Beer Festival, before it became very busy. However, Chelmsford Summer on a hot summers day is pretty good.
6. You used to home brew before going full time, a friend and I have started home brewing. What advice would you give to people who are just starting off brewing their own beer at home?
Keep it as clean as possible, be patient, try bottle and draught to see which you prefer, don’t give up if you get a disaster. If you are starting up, I’d go for the 2 tin kits straight away (better than using refined sugar). I went straight from this to my brewery, mainly because I did not have the space to try grain brewing. However, I think it is best if you have the room (and can afford the equipment) to try full grain brewing once you have mastered using the tinned kits.
7. Where are your favourite places to have a beer?
In the summer there is no where better than a good pub garden or by the sea. One of our favourite local holiday places is Wells Next The Sea and they have a ship which is a pub (The Albatross) and a pint of Woodfordes on the deck there is pretty good. In the winter a nice rich dark ale by the fireside is fantastic.
8. Beer has blown up in the last few years, there seems to be a new brewery opening up every week! Where do you see the beer scene going in the foreseeable future?
People always want to try new things in beer so there is the opportunity for lots of us small breweries. A few years ago a pub with Abbot Ale, Pedigree and Tetleys or something similar on tap would be a good pub – I think now people want a lot more than this with more variety, particularly locally produced ales.
9. Outside of brewing beer what are your other interests?
Brewing now is full time so does not allow much time for anything else! Spare time I have I give to my wife and 11 year old daughter – she plays viola and loves horse riding so a lot of time is spent watching her doing these. I also enjoy travel in this country & France, swimming (have done a few swimathons recently) & cycling, anything to do with science and visiting museums & art galleries.
10. Billericay Brewing has gone from strength to strength over the last couple of years, what plans have you got for the next year? With the success of brewery tap rooms opening up at breweries are you tempted to add a bar to your Billericay Brewery?
Our next step is indeed to open a brewery tap. We have started renting the unit next to the brewery and intend to move the shop there with a small bar too (planning permission pending) We already have a new licence so that you can drink beer at the brewery. Hope to move the shop and have a simple bar by Christmas.