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The Head Brewer's Speech

By Fergus Fitzgerald, also posted in News on

Adnams' Master Brewer Fergus FitzgeraldI don’t think I’ve ever watched The Queen's Christmas day speech so I don’t actually know what she says but this is my stab at one. I’m quite looking forward to the end of 2012, I don’t usually attach any significance to the changing of the year, usually it’s just about remembering to put the right date down and swapping the calendar from Charles Faram over showing some more lovely pictures of hops. Before Children I did go out and celebrate in the usual overcrowded and overpriced nightclubs (I’m not sure when they stopped being called Discos and became nightclubs but it has happened so I’ll try and stay up to date) but I can't say what I was celebrating. Seems an odd thing really to celebrate another successful orbit of the Sun, but it looks like we’ll make it around again, or at least most of us will. Well done everyone, and for those that haven’t, you’ll be missed. We’ve had a fairly good year in the brewery, beer is selling well, Ghost Ship particularly has taken hold and I’m really happy with the cans of Ghost Ship, they’ll be in my boot for the Boxing day trip to the in-laws. Also I didn’t run out of Citra hops this year so that’s a plus. Oh, and the Ghost Ship event in May was fantastic. Adnams Diamond AleThe seasonal / one-off beers have been well received, and Diamond Ale, Flame Runner, Topaz and Shingle Shells have all sold more than I could have anticipated. Mini casks continue to do well. The brewing team here have had a busy year, they’ve had to brew more batches of beer than ever before and brew more different types of beer. Despite all this Dan has also managed to brew several home-brew sized trials including an old Gruit recipe, which probably needs a little less wormwood next time! The team have done a great job with the mini casks this year and they continue to grow, and despite our early concerns it seems that people are getting the hang of being their own 'cellar man' for a day, with the help of Belinda’s video, of course. We did our first collaboration brew with the guys at Avery, they left feeling worse for wear but I really enjoyed it and I think it’s whetted our appetite for a few more next year. Absinthe serve posterThe distillery goes from strength to strength with the Absinthes being highlights for me. John is doing some really great things in the distillery, particularly in his cupboard. We’ve got a bit of a halt on new products for the time being while we get ready for the Whisky launch next December but when we do let him loose again there is a really nice Aquavit and a Triple Sec that will be worth looking at. The ‘not quite whisky because it can only be called whisky when it’s 3yrs old’ whisky at two-years-old has been well received and John tells me that the Rye whisky is also coming along really well, which is a shame because we decided to make it with 100% Rye (most Rye Whisky is around 51% Rye) and Rye is not a great grain to brew with as it takes on the consistency of wall paper paste, just imagine trying to put wall paper paste through a sieve, it takes a while! Anyway I think it’s worth the pain, probably, we’ll find out in a couple of years. So all in all it’s been a good year but I’m still happy to say goodbye to 2012, partly because my Dad passed away and the more time that passes between that day the better as far as I’m concerned. But also looking forward to 2013 because there are some really interesting things set to happen. We have a new 100-litre pilot plant coming which I’m really looking forward to. Most of the new beers we’ve brewed over the last few years have been creations in my head until the day we did a full-sized brew, which can be a bit risky when we’re playing with new yeast strains and new materials. The new pilot plant will let us be more adventurous without risking the family silver. I’ve also got an idea of opening it up to the rest of the brewery to come and brew. I fear Ruth and Belinda are currently putting together a recipe using the most expensive and impossible to get hops they can think of! We’ve also got a few collaboration brews in the pipeline for Wetherspoon, one with an Irish brewer (no, not me, a different one) and hopefully two more with some exciting American brewers. I should say awesome American brewers but I’m not wearing the right clothes to say Awesome. We’ve got some great plans for some new beers which I hope you’ll like and a barrel-aged trial beer that I’ve being playing with for the past two years seems to have just about reached perfection, if you like broadside aged for 2yrs in a whisky cask and re-fermented on some sour cherries is your thing, if not … well, never mind. If it is your thing then don’t get too excited I only have one trial cask and it did take 2 years to make so it maybe some time before it’ll be available but I’ll try and leave a couple of bottles for the Brewery Tours to try. Anyway, time is moving on and I need to get back to helping make sure this pile of rock gets around the Sun again before New Years. Think it might help if I lean forward for a bit? Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


Fergus Fitzgerald