Craft brewing has seen a surge of interest in the UK over the past few years. We chatted to Andy Jones, co-owner of award-winning Devilfish Brewery, about the pleasures and pitfalls of professional brewing.
How did you first get into brewing beer?
My business partner Evan Metz and I started out making beer in my garage. It was great fun, some of it tasted great and some of it not so great. We decided to build a microbrewery anyway. After realising our DIY skills were about as good as our beer making skills we were rescued somewhat by Iain Masson, a DIY expert with 30 years experience in brewing (ex head brewer at Greene King) who just happened to be passing. Yes, we got lucky.
What are you hoping to achieve with Devilfish Brewery?
We’ve witnessed an extraordinary rise in the popularity of beer from new world countries as US and New Zealand brewers experiment with some incredible hops to make hugely exciting, vibrant and distinctive beers. We want to ride on their coattails and bring some of those flavours over to the UK. Basically we’re stealing ideas from the people who stole the original ideas from UK and German brewers last century before giving them a twist, so it’s a sort of a payback day/full circle kind of thing, if you like…
Where do you get your ingredients from?
Hops from the States mostly while the Malt comes from the world famous Warminster Maltings. The water’s local and the yeast is from a packet.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned brewing beer?
God, so much. Cleanliness, the importance of imagery, how to lift weights – and drop them. That we really should have done this when we were all a bit younger. But most of all – and without wishing to get too political – that successive governments are almost criminally destroying British society as we know it by heaping progressive beer duty on UK brewers which is ultimately driving people out of pubs as beer is too expensive. Pubs are consequently closing at an alarming rate as people sit at home alone drinking. Future generations will look back at us and ask why we are letting this happen.
Do you have any advice for budding brewers?
Having a brewery is something that most blokes like the idea of but the reality is that you have to be clean, fit, clean, different, clean, and prepared to work very hard to line the governments coffers.
Which all sounds rather negative so what are the good sides?
Meeting beer drinkers who appreciate what you do, as we often do at the brewery and at local events and pubs, is great. And nothing beats the feeling of walking into a pub with your mates and they surprisingly have one of your beers on.
Six months after we interviewed Andy he decided to sell Devilfish brewery, frustrated by the restrictions presented to the brewing trade. He now brews beer in his kitchen for personal consumption.
If you would like to sign the ‘stop the beer duty escalator’ e-petition please click here