The Beer People

The brewer – One part scientist, one part artist, the brewer is the creative force behind the unique flavours, aromas and look of Britain’s many beers. The skills of the brewer have been passed down over centuries and it is both an artisan and a high-tech industry. The increasing diversity of beers available in Britain is testimony to an industry that has always been innovative, especially with the modern-day state-of-the-art production processes. A brewer is often responsible for all aspects of producing beer from buying the raw materials of malted barley and hops to brewing the beer, and packaging the finished product.

Drayman – A dray was a low, flat-bed cart without sides, pulled by horses. Breweries used to deliver beer to the local area using drays, and whilst this method is now almost extinct, the term is still used to describe brewery delivery people who transport beer from the brewery to pubs. Some breweries still maintain teams of horses and a dray, but these are usually reserved for special occasions. Only a few breweries, such as Hook Norton in Oxfordshire, continue the tradition of making local deliveries with draymen operating drays.

The farmer – The British brewing process begins on the farm. Farmers are essential for the brewing of beer as they grow the grains, usually barley, which is used in the brewing process. Many different varieties are produced in Britain, including Maris Otter malt, developed here but famous all over the world for its high quality. Almost 20,000 people work in agricultural jobs in Britain that directly support our brewing industry.

Hop growers – There are just over 50 British farmers growing hops in Britain today. Hops were first grown in the South-East, specifically in Kent, Suffolk, Surrey and Sussex. They were quickly followed by Herefordshire and Worcestershire in the West Midlands. Today about half of British hop production is grown by farmers in these areas. British hops are unique due to the great soils and mild maritime climate in which they grow, with even rainfall throughout the year. The UK is the only country to have focused strongly on disease resistant hops that can be grown without irrigation. This makes the hops environmentally friendly. There are 27 commercially grown British Aroma Hop varieties in the UK, and include notes such as tangerine, grass, grapefruit, mint, honey and molasses.

Further Reading