West Beer

Q: How long have you/the brewery been making beer for?

A: I’ve been with WEST for just over seven years. I pretty much just started out helping out around the brewery. The idea was to improve my home brews and develop the brewery tours that I was taking at the time. About a year in to my employment I got the chance to go full time ‘downstairs’ and have been plugging away ever since.

Ilka_WEST_010

 

Q: What got you into brewing?

A: I’m not really sure what sparked the decision to fork out for my first bits of kit ( just the biggest pot that would fit on the hob and a plastic bucket I really hope was food safe) but I started brewing at home about 10 years ago with my friend Tom and we still brew together fairly regularly.

I think it was probably inevitable that I’d get into brewing. I really liked trying new beers, I wanted to work in beer or whisky and it seemed liked an extension of cooking which I really loved.

Ilka_WEST_026

 

Q: When you’re not brewing what are your hobbies?

A: I mostly just try not to sit down for too long and spend time with people I enjoy the company of. I usually try and find a challenge every year or so. This year is to do a triathlon and do more hill walking at the weekends. I also like to power lift and box but they’ve had to take a back seat for the triathlon training.

Kegs

Q: What’s your favourite style of beer? 

A: I genuinely don’t really have one. My favourite thing about beer, and also food actually, is to try new things. I guess I’m a bit nerdy and when I’m on holiday I try to find as much local food and drink as possible. If I can link that back to the history or the people or place and customs or traditions etc even better.

WEST BREWERY_ChrisLeslie-4

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: Hedi-weisse for loads of reasons but try it and you’ll probably see why.

Heidi

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 guess there are too many variable like mood, season, if I’m eating or not but as a general rule I’ll spend more than I should and have a selection of staples (Fallen dragonfly, shneiderweiss original, something from cantillion, Orval, Sierra Nevada pale ale, Drygate Seven Peaks actually this list could go on and on!) and a few things I’ve not tried that have caught my eye. Staple or novel it’s about the intrigue of the liquid and not the slickness of the branding.

Q: What new flavour combination would you love to try/what new hops would you like to work with?

A: I really want to enliven the half and half, bring it to a younger audience. It seems like such a great tradition and there are so many potentially amazing combinations you should never get bored.

One of the next big focuses for us will be low or no alcohol beers, which is really challenging but that is what keeps things interesting. We’ve done our first ever pilot brews for this project and I’ve been using Lemon Drop quite a lot. I think it is an incredible ingredient and will most definitely feature in a West project soon.

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Q: What brewery would you like to collaborate with and why?

A: While it would be amazing to travel somewhere exotic and brew in one of the iconic breweries, particularly with one of the modern trend setters, I love that there is such emphasis on locality right now. There is excellent beer coming out of Scotland right now, plus there is a great sense of community and this should be celebrated. I’d love to make some beer with Dead End Brew Machine as that is where you can get some of the best beer kicking about right now.

 

Thanks to West Beer, a local brewery to me for taking part – I’m actually visiting their brewery for a tour soon, so I can’t wait to see the place in person. For more information on West Beer, check out the following;

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