City worker to master brewer

From working in the city to starting a brewery

We talk to Gary Phillips about what makes him tick.  On a cold December day, we went to Gary’s brewery that he has set up deep in the Kent countryside.  We spent a day making a new recipe with him and asking him a few questions….

When did you get into brewing?

I first got into brewing when I was about 18 with a fellow beer loving friend from school. We started making pale ales and stouts in our parent’s kitchens and tested them out on our friends at parties. It definitely wasn’t great beer, but it didn’t cost much and we had put all of our love and attention into it.

What did you do to get started?

To start brewing commercially, I started by setting up a permanent small-scale home brewery in our home garage. Making it a hygienic space, with a water supply and a waste water connection takes time and is such an important step.

What are you main lessons learnt?

Brew lots of trial beers to get your recipes the way you want … and to make sure your brewing process is as efficient as possible. An efficient brewery makes the brewing more effortless … but also cuts out the number of errors you make.

How do you balance with other work commitments?

It helps to have a passion for what you’re doing. It helps you when you need to work late after work to do all the planning.

What has been the biggest challenge to date?

Probably making sure that I have a clear and coherent brand that resonates with our target market. It definitely takes a lot of thought if you want to get it right.

How did you come up with your recipes?

There were two factors for me. First of all using ingredients from beers that I had tried before and loved. Then secondly thinking about what beers people locally would enjoy. I then tried and tested the recipe ideas and tweaked them to get what I wanted. This does take time!

How are you going to sell you brews?

I am selling half of our beers in bottle format and half in cask to local pubs.

What do you think to the future of microbrewing?

It seems like everyone is an expert in the microbrewing industry, but my own thoughts are that it will continue to grow for a number of years. Microbreweries still supply a very small percentage of the total beer market … and I think a lot of people are still only just learning about microbrewery beers. But who knows!?

Gary is still running in stealth mode but once he is open to the public we will have him back on the website

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