Our Head Brewer
y introduction to brewing came via watching a chef on TV making a nettle ale out of nettles, lemon, lime, sugar and of course yeast. This sparked my curiosity to such an extent that I attempted to replicate the same recipe the very next day. The outcome wasn't what I had hoped for!
From there, I began using "Canned Beer Kits", always adding additional ingredients like lavender, honey, mint and chocolate. Not satisfied with the results I designed and built my own All-Grain homebrew kit. Within 12 months, I had brewed a few successful batches one of which won gold at the National Homebrew Competition.
What started out as curiosity had now turned into an obsession! I began holding craft beer tastings in a local off license as well as dropping some samples in to bar managers, breweries, hotels....basically anyone who would taste them! One of the breweries I offered samples to was Franciscan Well Brewery in Cork. This led to a meeting with Shane Long who offered me a role at his brewery.
I spent over 2 years at Franciscan Well where I learned my craft under the tutelage of Head Brewer Peter Lyall who provided excellent training and guidance, and who continues to offer support to this very day.
During my time at Franciscan Well, I had the privilege of releasing my first commercial bottled beer, a Clementine and Rosemary Saison, which won Bronze at the 2014 International Beer Challenge. A very proud moment for me.
After leaving Franciscan Well, I spent a short term as Head Brewer at The Open Gate Brewery, St. James’s Gate. However, the lure of brewing in a craft brewery again was something that I was passionate about. At the beginning of 2016, the position of Head Brewer at Wicklow Brewery became open. On meeting Ashley and Leigh Williams, owners of the brewery, it was very apparent that they shared my passion and vision of what making craft beer is all about.
What brewing means to me
In its simplest form, it’s about selecting the best raw ingredients and working with them to produce the beer that you have designed from concept. Above all else, it allows me to be creative which is something that’s very important to me. The creative aspect is interesting in brewing because you start off with a concept, choose your raw ingredients, decide how you’re going to brew it and it’s not until a number of weeks later that you know if you’ve achieved what you set out to brew! The real award is in seeing someone buying your beer and hopefully enjoying it. That’s the real payoff for me.