Q: Why the name Round Corner Brewing?
A: We set up in Melton Mowbray market, a 1,000-year-old market in an agricultural heartland, because taking beer back to its agricultural roots was important to us. Beer has become very industrialised, even with modern craft brewers setting up in Industrial estates. We started with a “Full-circle” idea – working closely with the local agricultural community and this developed into Round Corner, as it also describes the shape of 2 of Melton’s biggest exports – Stilton cheese and Pork pies.
Q: How long have you/the brewery been making beer for?
A: Round Corner Brewing was founded in 2017 with our first pilot brew in June 2018. November 2018 was our first brew on our new Le Hui 20hL kit. I have more brewing experience than most in the industry, though. Having studied brewing at Heriot Watt I have been a commercial brewer since 1995 – so 24 years’ experience. From 1999 – 2016 I brewed overseas. Spending time in New Zealand (where I met Co-Founder Combie), Australia, Singapore where I was a Brewmaster with Tiger/Heineken, and Vietnam
Q: What got you into brewing?
A: A love of beer and science – I applied for the Brewing degree when I was studying my A-levels and never looked back
Q: When you’re not brewing what are your hobbies?
A: Travelling, Fishing with my daughter and visiting very old pubs (I missed this last one when I was living abroad)
Q: What’s your favourite style of beer?
A: Pilsner – I love the variation that the lager category offers, we only know a couple of brands in the UK and lager should absolutely not be judged on these brands. Rather go to Bavaria and check out some of the breweries there. We make an absolutely cracking lager called Frisby. Based on German Pilsner but with UK hops. We also make a Black Lager which not many are doing in the UK, and it’s an absolute cracker. When I was younger I was into the big hoppy styles, but just like I got into the nuances of Pinot Noir only when I hit my 30s, I think your tastes need to mature to fully understand and appreciate great lager.
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: Frisby Lager – it’s good at any time of the day, or year! With enough drinkability to slake thirst and enough complexity to savour.
Q: You are in a supermarket, or bottle shop, in the beer section, what would you buy? (your wonderful beer isn’t on sale unfortunately!)
A: I would always check the date and only buy something fresh. I am frustrated with the way supermarkets in this country demand 12 months shelf life which is so wrong. Beer when it ages doesn’t make you sick but it does oxidise. And oxidised beer is not how the Brewer wants his consumers to experience his product. In the USA most craft producers give 3 months shelf life. 12 months is crazy.
Q: What new flavour combination would you love to try/what new hops would you like to work with?
A: I have spent about 20 years working in New Product development and have done so much experimentation with different herbs and flavours to realise that all we need as brewers is – Malt, Hops, yeast and water – just chose the best of all 4 that create what you are trying to produce. I don’t believe the future of beer is “Strawberry, lactose milkshake IPAs” I like collaborating with Brewers who really understand the process of making beer, rather than just throwing more hops at something or adding flavourings to potentially mask a multitude of sins. I would like to see Brewers try and make some more delicate styles as they are harder to make well, which is likely why so many aren’t.
Q: What brewery would you like to collaborate with and why?
A: A couple of the most fun collaborations I have done was with Hitachino in Japan and Chuckanut in Washington State. I would like to collaborate with them again, as they were great Brewers who understood beer. I would love to collaborate with Harvest Moon in Tokyo as I love Tomoko’s Schwarzbier, and I really rate Cigar city’s Lager – best beer I had in Nashville last year when judging at the World Beer Cup – would be fun to do something with them.
Q: With such an exceptional brewing history, you must have some stories, right?
A: In 2005 when I was head Brewer at Mac’s in New Zealand, I collaborated with Doug Donelan from NZ hops. We Brewed a fresh hops beer that’s hop addition was measured in the amount of Toyota Hiace fulls! It was crazy and we ended up with a 50 IBU beer from fresh hops. I loved that beer but was a pain in the ass to brew!
Probably 1 of the craziest brews I did was around 2003 in Wellington NZ, we brewed a Gruit with no hops, but herb additions were Yarrow, wormwood, marshmallow and something else I can’t even remember now. It was mildly narcotic and although Yarrow grows in NZ we couldn’t source in the quantity I needed. So after much research I ended up buying about 10kg of Yarrow from a witch in South Auckland, no shit!
For more information on Round Corner Brewing, check out the following;
Thanks to Round Corner Brewing for taking part. I am already looking forward to seeing your brewery grow and sample your beer selection!