Q: Why the name Star Wing Brewery?
A: At the very beginning, our brewery was called Selig. But it never quite felt right – sounding more like a Germanic lager than a real ale loving, rural Suffolk microbrewery.
At that point our logo was also an angel – round and smiling with feathered wings and star medallion around its neck – found carved into the stone borders of churches in the local area. We wanted to incorporate this symbol in our brand as for us it represented a sense of community and our roots, which forms the basis of our brewery.
We stripped the design down to the star and wings and then changed our name to Star Wing Brewery. The angel design, I’m referring to is still featured on our Stain Glass Blue porter label.
Q: How long have you/the brewery been making beer for?
A: The brewery has been making beer commercially for around 18 months now. Before that we spent another 18 months on our pilot plant and refining the recipes for our first four beers, while simultaneously setting up our 10bbl plant and renovating the Old Sawmill building around us, with its traditional yellow brick flooring and a new (and much needed!) wood burning stove.
We’re always on the pilot plant developing new beers and hope to release three new brews before Christmas (when the fire will be in full swing)!
Q: What got you into brewing?
A: Aside from being homebrewers and generally passionate beer people, the brewery came about by a commitment to creating a different kind of brewery business to what we are used to.
It’s hard not to imagine a beer version of Willie Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, with waterfalls of IPA gushing from the walls and a pool of porter lazy river-ing you into the office. But in reality, there’s a lot of hard work and a lot of cleaning! Nonetheless, it’s a dynamic, personable industry all about community and face to face interaction. There probably aren’t too many businesses so directly focused on making people enjoy themselves as Star Wing.
Q: When you’re not brewing what are your hobbies?
A: All brewers love to make the joke that they’re ‘working’ when drinking in a pub or attending a beer festival. It might be a bit tired, but in fairness, it’s only a half joke. “Sampling the competition” is the perfect excuse for doing what we enjoy most – having a pint. Beer works with most other hobbies I have. Take a dog for a nice coastal walk – there’s a pub half way. Go to watch Derby County play – yep, there’s a pub. Even reading, a hangover from what now seems an unnecessary English Literature degree, a beer may very well boost that experience.
Q: What’s your favourite style of beer?
A: Weirdly, as it’s what I drink the least of, it’s either a porter or a stout. It depends if it’s cold outside or how I feel when I’m ordering, but if I’m in the mood for a dark beer I enjoy it much more than I could any other type. I also enjoy brewing dark beers the most as I find experimenting with grain more interesting than hops. Grain is the meat in the sandwich, hops are the sauce.
Q: If you could only have one of your brews for the rest of your life, what would it be and why? (I know it’s like picking a favourite child!)
A: Answering a question like that you have to take as pragmatic an approach as possible, not just picking the favourite but also looking at accessibility (all year round drinking and ABV). For that reason, I would go for our golden ale Spire Light. I love all of our beers but Spire Light is 4.2%, light (obviously) and delicious rain or shine.
Q: You are in a supermarket, in the Beer aisle of course, what would you buy? (your wonderful beer isn’t on sale unfortunately!)
A: That’s a real stinger of a question! But if it’s a supermarket stocking local ales, I will always try and support other smaller breweries. Since that’s not always possible, I like Camden Pale, Brains SA Gold and Punk IPA.
Q: What new flavour combination would you love to try/what new hops would you like to work with?
A: We’ve still not tried out any of the hops from Australia and New Zealand, which are sweeping across the craft beer scene.
We’ve been focused on growing our own hops over the last couple of years and we grow around 12 different varieties, which we use in our core range. A really tasty New Zealand style beer to try is Moa by Shiny Brewery. I’m not sure what hops they use, but as a New Zealand, Sauvingnon Blanc enthusiast I’d have to start with Nelson Sauvin in my first New Zealand style beer.
Q: What brewery you would like to collaborate with and why?
A: I’d want to keep a collaboration as local as possible. The closest brewery to us is Old Chimneys, who are raved about (quite rightly) on forums like Untappd. The owner and brewer there said before, when we popped in to buy beer from him, that he’d happily visit us and share his expertise… we might just have to take him up on his offer!
Thanks to Star Wings Brewery for taking part! I love the analagy of “Grain is the meat in the sandwich, hops are the sauce.”. Looking forward to seeing more of your hard work and brewing over the coming months!
For more information on Star Wings Brewery check out the following;