In case you haven’t heard, there are some new kids on the craft beer block…and they’re from our manor. We’ve been keeping in regular touch with Kew Brewery‘s Founder and Head Brewer, David Scott, over the last year as his plans took shape. And this week his beers finally made it onto our shelves. Sarah Ball caught up with David…
When did you decide you wanted to give up the day job (as a university manager) and open your own brewery?
The idea of becoming a brewer fermented for a while, if you’ll pardon the pun. I’d been a home brewer for a long time, and a passionate fan of real ale for much longer than that. I managed to get some time off work in 2013, and was lucky enough to get a job at Weird Beard Brewing Co in Hanwell for 7 months. That, alongside some work at both Old Dairy and Canterbury Brewers in Kent, was enough to encourage me to take the plunge.
Why did you want to brew in Kew?
As a long-time Kew resident, my view was always that it was Kew or nothing for the brewery (or as close to Kew as I could get). It made sense to brew local to home, but it surely helps that the gardens at Kew make the area well-known nationally and internationally – I assumed that wouldn’t do sales any harm. But I also loved the environmental associations of the area, as sustainability is very important to me, and is core to what we’re doing at the brewery.
How has it been since you opened?
After all sorts of delays and issues, we brewed for the first time in May, and made our first sales in June. The challenges have probably been too numerous to list here, but finding somewhere to brew, getting permission to do so, and then sorting out the necessary electrical supply all created problems that were not necessarily expected. Lack of space remains an issue. The high points are more straightforward – making a beer that you’re happy with and finding out that others agree, and of course making those first few sales that hopefully indicate you’ve made the right decisions.
What made you decide to focus on British ingredients?
I’ve already mentioned our commitment to environmental sustainability, (and this includes donating 5p for every pint sold to the excellent World Land Trust), and that was key to our decision to try and use only British (really just English) ingredients. We wanted to limit our food miles as much as possible and flying-in ingredients from round the world when they grow in the south of England didn’t make much sense. With malt that is fairly straightforward. However, English hops are not currently in vogue, so the challenge for us is to make our beers as interesting and punchy as those made by brewers who use US and other new world hops. English hops are often more subtle and give less in the way of the favoured citrus and tropical fruit flavours and aromas. So that’s where we have our work cut out, finding hop combinations that work, and using enough hops during the brew and when dry-hopping to make our beers punch their weight.
Who else do you admire in British craft brewing?
There’s so many good breweries out there these days that it is difficult to pick one or two. I’m obviously a very big fan of Weird Beard, but I also very much like what’s going on at Brew By Numbers, Fourpure, Beavertown, Siren, Brixton, East London Brewery… the list goes on. It is a great time in British brewing and there is such a range of British beer out there now that there really is a beer to suit everybody and every occasion.
Do you have a favourite ale you brew…or is that like asking you to pick a favourite child?
Ha! A bit, yes. I wouldn’t brew anything I didn’t want to drink myself. I love our chocolate milk stout (Kew Green (& Black)) because it is a bit different, but as we change our pale ale each time that always offers something new, and sometimes unexpected. And then Botanic and Sandycombe are both just very drinkable but very different from each other. So I think I’ve failed to answer that one quite effectively…
What should we look out for next from Kew Brewery?
Hopefully lots. On the one hand, we want to make our core beers even better – more aromatic, and clearer without using finings made from fishguts. And on the other we want to start doing some interesting seasonal and one-off beers, and perhaps collaborate with a few local brewers. Look out for a tea ESB collaboration with Soul Rebel Brewing Co, a saison, and a chilli porter in the relatively near future. We also want to start kegging as that will suit some of our beers, and give us more scope to do unusual beers alongside core cask beers. Cans would be fun too!
The Good Wine Shop, Kew is hosting a Meet The Brewer with David on Friday 7 August 5.30 to 7.30pm. Come along and try his Pagoda Pale No 2, Botanic and Richmond Rye.
Here are a few notes from David about his beers which we stock:
Pagoda Pale No 2 – £2.50/bt
The second edition of our pale ale is brewed with masses of UK cascade hops for a really fruity aroma and taste. 4.2%
Botanic – £2.45/bt
A deliciously sessionable amber ale; subtle tangerine and peach aromas give way to biscuit and caramel in the body, and a soft, long bitterness. 3.8% (Sarah adds…Botanic was chosen by The Telegraph as one of their 10 British Beers for summer)
Richmond Rye – £2.50/bt
Spicy and refreshing, our Richmond is gently bittered to let the peppery rye shine through and is then given a huge dry hop with English Archer and Boadicea hops. 4.2%