Q: How long have you/the brewery been making beer for?
A: I started brewing about 12 years ago – myself and a mate bought one of the Coopers homebrew kits – a big white barrel, with a bunch of other bits n bobs. We brewed some really terrible beer with it, that got us very drunk – think back to the Billy Connolly sketch, where he says he was drunk from the waist down. That was us – as long as we were sitting down, we were fine – once we stood up, it was like Bambi’s first steps!
*For BIlly Connelly lovers and even those who have never seen his comedy – search for this clip!*
After that, it all sort of started growing arms and legs. I’d find myself in hardware stores, looking for bits of equipment that could be requisitioned for my brewing needs. I think the final straw was when we bought a metal dustbin and had it bubbling away on top of the hob… my wife wasn’t impressed with that!
As for the brewery – you could say that we’re the new kids on the block as far as that’s concerned. We’ve been trying to set up things behind the scenes for a few months now, but as far as brewing goes, we’re only really taking off in the last few weeks.
Q: What got you into brewing?
A: Honestly, it was probably the idea that we could make a barrel-load of beer at a fraction of the cost of buying it from the shop! When we started with the Coopers kit, the idea was to just get as drunk as possible, as cheaply as possible. That’s hardly promoting sensible drinking I know, but we were in our mid-20’s at the time, footloose and fancy free.
Afterwards though, when I started taking it a bit more seriously, I think I saw it as a chance to try and create beers that appealed to my own tastes.
It’s funny, because I’ve always liked beer – even if some of my choices back in the day could be labelled as “questionable”. But I only got into proper ale – or what folk call craft-beer these days – in about 2008. There was a guy I worked with, who used to always tell me about the different ales he’d had through the week. Somehow he’d got it into his head that I was into them too – I must’ve been giving off a hipster-vibe or something. And I thought to myself “Maybe this is something that I should get into?” So I did. And I became a bit obsessive about it – buying up as many different brands, styles, varieties as I could, to see which ones I enjoyed best.
I think that gave me a lot of inspiration for my brewing – something to aim for. You’d try a beer and think “That was really good – but what could I do differently to make it better?” And with the resources we have these days on the internet, you could find a recipe online – or a clone, at least – and try to copy it, or add your own little flourishes. It’s exciting to me how far you can take things – the actual possibilities are endless; one small change to a recipe – be it a grain ratio, or using a different variety of hop, changing the yeast – can result in a completely different beer!
Q: When you’re not brewing what are your hobbies?
A: I have a three and a half year old at home, so my hobbies these days usually involve running around after him, or sitting watching YouTube videos involving people that somehow invoke a level of rage in me, not last seen since Bruce Banner first turned into the Incredible Hulk…
Other than that, I play the guitar (badly) and spend an inordinate amount of time playing videogames.
Q: What’s your favourite style of beer?
A: Shall I give the cliché answer and say, “All of them”?
If you forced me to pick one though, I’d definitely say stout. And the thicker, the better – I want a stout where it’s practically climbing back up the sides of the glass. I have a bit of a sweet tooth as well, so anything with treacle, caramel, chocolate – or even liquorice – flavour is a big hit with me.
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: That is a difficult question! So we’ve only really been brewing small, test batches at the moment, so that we can decide what to brew going forward. But there have been a couple that – for me anyway – have stood out from the others.
Going back to my stout fetish (of course) there are two currently conditioning in bottles that come to mind. Without giving too much away (trade secrets and all that!) – there is one containing coconut that was very good and another with raspberries.
If you forced my hand though, I think I’d go for the raspberry stout. I could still taste that one long after I’d actually drank any of it – there’s a brand of soft red liquorice you can buy in the shops, which is amazing. Its raspberry flavoured and that’s what this stout reminded me of.
I could live on that liquorice – have three meals of it every day – so to pair that with a beer with a similar flavour …yeah, that would do!
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: How much cash do I have and how big is the truck to carry it all home?!
There’s a bunch of great beer out there that ticks the boxes for me. Not to bang the stout drum too much, but Samuel Smiths Organic Chocolate Stout – I could drink that forever and not get tired of it. Really decadent, creamy, smooth. I’m sitting in work drooling – and it’s only 9am!
AND Union’s Sunday Pale Ale and Friday IPA are both cracking beers. Totally opposite end of the spectrum from Sam Smiths stuff – a couple of really easy drinking, light ales. Perfect for this ridiculously good weather we’re having at the moment.
I’m also partial to Pistonhead Full Amber. It’s one of my go-to beers at the moment. And Stewart Brewing’s Radical Road is excellent.
*Radical road is a wonderful beer!*
I buy most of those beers pretty regularly, but my usual method of selection is the Russian Roulette tactic; basically you pick half a dozen or so beers at random and see how you go! The big thing for me, is to try to taste as many different varieties as possible and it’s a great way to discover new beer!
Q: What new flavour combination would you love to try/what new hops would you like to work with?
A: Man, that’s… that’s a really difficult question! I like the idea of trying to come up with a totally different, unique combination of flavours – the problem is, people have been brewing beer for quite a while now, so it’s almost impossible to come up with an idea that someone else hasn’t tried before!
I think I’d like try adding more fruit to some beers and see how that goes. We’ve already tried that with the raspberries I mentioned above, but I’d like to take it further and try to create something that would appeal to people who may not be traditional beer or ale drinkers – that might be the gateway ‘drug’ that gets them into all the other fantastic beers that are available!
Q: What brewery you would like to collaborate with and why?
A: That’s a really good question. There are a few breweries that I really admire – I’d be absolutely cacking it to work with any of them though, incase I made a complete fool of myself!
Off the top of my head though – and because I mentioned them before – Stewart Brewing. I just think that they have a great variety of different beers and somehow they manage to keep the quality at a consistently high standard across the range. As I said, Radical Road is a great beer, as is Franz and First World Problems. It’d be great to see how they work and how they keep that level of consistency – and maybe learn some new tricks or secrets along the way!
There’s also a few breweries local to us that it’d be good to work with too, mainly to build up a rapport and maybe makes some new friends. We have Fallen, a few miles up the road in Kippen, Late Night Hype, in Clydebank and of course, Loch Lomond are close by too.
As I said earlier, we’re really just starting out on our beer adventures here, so working with any other brewery would be a great experience for us. We’re happily doing our own thing, but there’s always that nagging doubt at the back of your mind that you’re doing it all wrong! So getting to see how other folk work would be great.
For more information on Lennox Brewery, check out the following;
WOW! Thanks to Lennox Brewing for participating in Meet the Makers! I’m sure everyone reading will agree that the above is a phenomenal read AND gives a greater insight into this young and growing brewery. I’m looking forward to seeing the beers in action.
Thanks for taking part!