As part of our ongoing ‘Women in Beer’ series to promote a #SummerofPub, What’s Brewing sits down with Sophie de Ronde, Head Brewer at Burnt Mill Brewery in Suffolk. Read our full interview here:
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into beer?
I’ve been in the industry for about 12 years now. I started out at a traditional real ale pub and ended up running the cellar where I just fell in love with beer. I wanted to learn more about brewing so I asked a local brewery if they had any jobs going and it kind of just went from there. Joining Burnt Mill has been a learning curve, I’ve had to get to grips with kegging, canning, and working with beers and fermentation in a slightly different way to when I was just doing cask.
What makes Burnt Mill different from other breweries?
We really pride ourselves in producing top quality beer. Everything has to be just right and just so, and actually, that really pays off. This summer we will be producing some lower ABV beers that still use the fog strain of yeast that we use in our big six percenters. We hope to cover a wider audience and get our product into pubs rather than just going to the smaller independent wholesalers and bottle shops.
What is your biggest challenge as a brewer?
I think it’s really tough for brewers when you look at the amount of money we get for our beer compared to the amount of time and effort that goes into the product. You generally find that the craft beers are much more expensive than your average cask beers that get churned out by Greene King, Fullers, Black Sheep because we use a lot more hops and as smaller breweries we have tight cash flow. We have to battle against the regional brewers and convince pubs to invest in a premium product, which is ultimately more expensive for the consumer.
Tell us about the type of beers you brew here?
We’ve done everything from 2.8 per cent small table beer up to west coast style triple IPAs at around 10-11 per cent. Our main beers are Pintle and Beyond The Firs. Pintle is a 4.3 per cent pale ale with a nice haze on it, soft full mouthfeel and just clean and easy drinking, not too bitter. Beyond The Firs is a little bit more west coast style so we make it clean, crisp, bright. We use pea finings in all our bright beers so they are actually vegan or vegan-friendly.
How would you encourage someone who tells you they just don’t like beer to give it a try?
I would talk to them and ask what they like to drink normally, what kind of flavours and characteristics they like, and see if they’ve actually tried anything in the past in order to make a suggestion. For example, if they quite like sweet, fruity kind of drinks, I’d direct them to a Belgian fruit beer or a fruited sours or IPAs. If they usually drink red wine and coffee, I’d guide them towards a stout or a porter or a mild, and if they like their sort of tart white wines then a sour can work really well with these kinds of taste buds and flavours. These days there’s going to be something out there for everyone.
Do you think more pubs should screen the Women’s World Cup?
Yeah, I think so. These are pubs that would be supporting and showing the men’s games so they should show the same support for the women’s teams. I think just making publicans aware that they’re on and that people are interested in watching them is really important.
You can find out more about Burnt Mill Brewery by visiting http://www.burntmillbrewery.com/
You can find out more about the Summer of Pub campaign by visiting www.camra.org.uk/summerofpub/
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