Meet the brewer: Adnams
MEET THE BREWER: Adnams
We met with Jonathan at one of our bar buddies HOP DOC. He is a very welcoming person and it is as always great to see him. If our memory does not play tricks on us it is the 8th time we meet. We sit down and have a bit of chitchat and begin with the most informal interview of all time!
1. Jonathan, when and why did you decide to dedicate your life to brewing beer?
Well, my family has been in the beer brewing business for hundreds of years. Adnams family has been brewing beer since mid XVI century in New Brighton. In 1872 my family purchased the brewery in Southwold and started business there where Adnams still exists today. Beer brewing is in my family’s, blood so it is no surprise that I am in this business too. Of course when I was younger I did not think that I will be the head of Adnams brewery. After school I started studying property management, but after one year of studying, I thought to myself that it wasn‘t what I wanted to do, and so, I started my work in Adnams brewery as an assistant engineer. As they say, time flies when you are having fun. And for me, it’s been fun for 41 years already. I’ve been working in many different roles here at Adnams, but I have always been involved in the development of our brewery and that remains the main focus area for me.
2. Do you think we are witnessing the “golden” age for beer?
Absolutely yes! I think it is the “golden” age, which we haven’t seen for around 30-40 years. In the days before everything was focused on consolidating big breweries and building big brands. Breweries were concentrating on low cost production and costs cutting to remain competitive. When I was in my twenties, everything that you were able to find on the shelves was the big brands from the UK. In my opinion customers simply got bored and this is not only the case in the UK. Not surprisingly the big brands were not challenging in taste. People want to know how food or drink is made, where did it come from and whether its’ authentic, natural and good in quality.
3. Jonathan, an obvious question – what is the story behind the name of the Adnams brewery?
Well it is our family name which is to say the least – quite old. First records on Adnams family dates back about sixteen hundred years, but as far as I know Adnams family lives in the UK since the 11th century.
4. What is the idea behind the label design? Who creates these labels?
As I said Adnams has been brewing beer for a long time. During this time our branding has changed a lot, as people started to feel that what was done yesterday wouldn’t be so interesting tomorrow. Brands constantly go through evolution.
5. What is the process of making new beer at Adnams? Who is in charge of creating new recipes?
Well, there are probably two different ways to start a new beer: the first one starts with the brewing team. They start to think about new beer styles, ingredients, trends and the most interesting tastes. With these ideas they go to the sales team and initiate long discussions whether the new ideas are in line with them. If a consensus is reached the brewing of new beer begins.
The second and the more creative way is when our brew master starts brewing various batches of beer with new hops, malts or yeasts. It is followed by a handful of degustations that hopefully lead to new Adnams beers.
Both ways are very important. It is essential for both teams (brewing and sales) to work closely together. The brewers are constantly searching for new ingredients, ideas and recipes, while the sales team is trying to grasp the needs of beer enthusiasts from all around the globe.
6. It would be really interesting to know how does a typical day in the brewery look like?
Nowadays all the recipes and calculations are kept in computer memory. However what our people do now is way more interesting. They are constantly taking samples, keeping the brewing processes intact, creating new recipes, looking for new hops, malts and loads of other things. People might say that the modern era might have taken away a part of the old traditions, but when you really think about it, it also allowing us to spend more time on the creative side of brewing beer, which is actually the most exciting part.
When I started my career in the brewery, all the processes were reliant on hand labour. Everything from cleaning to batching – no surprise it has all changed now.
7. Adnams interest and investments into new technologies and their application is well known.
I would say that it is in our family blood to think globally and to be inventive. The most recent example would be our new warehouse in Southwold. Our initial plan was to build an ordinary warehouse, however after investigation of trends and innovations in the construction sector we decided to build an eco-friendly one. It allowed us to reduce costs on electricity and water consumption not to mention the grass roof which is a constant pleasure for my eyes.
8. That is all Jonathan! Thank you for this wonderful chance to talk to you. Always our pleasure!
Always the same for me guys.
P.S. You all have a great chance to meet Jonathan in person on the 15th of March (Wednesday) at HOP DOC!