1. What does a normal day at work look like for you?
I don’t really have a normal day, which is what I love about my job. Some days I’ll be serving customers, some days I’m brewing on the Craft Beer Kitchen, other days I planning and working to make improvements to our retail business, some days I’m over at the Dockside Tap. I’ve had days where I’ve been designing the website and learning how to code HTML. Whatever my role throws at me I have to able to adapt and learn new skills very quickly. I’m always adding new systems to improve what we do, which keeps my team on their toes.
2. What is your favourite thing about your job?
Other than the variety of different things I do every day, it would have to be serving people who love our beer. Everyone I meet is happy to come along to the brewery and there’s real excitement when people walk through the door.
3. What beer from Stewart's past would you bring back and why?
Black IPA. I love the malty, liquorice flavour coupled with the big hoppy aroma.
4. What is your favourite current Stewarts beer?
Hornidal IPA. I’m a fan of IPA’s with loads of body and flavour. I thought Voss IPA was the best beer we had ever made, then the brewers knocked it out of the park with Hornindal.
5. What is your favourite meal to have with it?
Chicken from the BBQ marinated in a hot sauce from Wings. The pineapple flavours pair amazingly with a nice charred piece of spicy chicken.
We recently had a Chicken Wing & Beer pairing event at the brewery. The guy’s from Wings came out to make their awesome wings. They were nice enough to give me a few bottles of their hot sauce. If you haven’t been to Wings and tried their sauces, I would recommend going there immediately. They serve great beer and have the best decoration in any restaurant in Edinburgh. (Wings give me free stuff!!)
6. If you could name a beer after yourself what would it be called and what type of beer would it be?
Been there, done that! Part of my role is to brew up beers on the Craft Beer Kitchen that we sell in our taprooms. Not long after I started working at Stewart Brewing, I brewed a Raspberry & Seaweed Porter called ‘The Official Beer of Rich’. Craig (our Head Brewer) and I spent a couple of hour’s oven roasting seaweed. I tried to use a combination of Sugar Kelp and Carrageenan. The Kelp roasted up nicely but when I put in the Carrageenan big black plumes of smoke came out of the oven. It burns immediately. I had a little taste of the burnt carrageenan and it was incredibly tart, so I added it anyway to bring out the tartness of the raspberries. I ended up with a chocolatey, tart raspberry, salty porter. It was great.
7. Tell us about the first time you had a beer? (or remember having one)
My beer drinking life didn’t start out very well. I was 15 and at a friend's Dad’s birthday party. They had loads of stubby ‘French’ lagers from the supermarket. I drank a few bottles.
After that, my Dad introduced me to imported German Lagers, which is where my love of beer really started.
8. Tell us about the last time you had a beer?
My last beer came from my monthly beer subscription box. One of the problems with working in a brewery is that you always end up drinking your own beer (I know, first world problems). I like getting my monthly subscription because it lets me try beers I wouldn’t normally try.
9. How did you come to work in a brewery?
When I was 19 I got myself a part-time bar job in a nightclub which turned into a full-time Assistant Managers job.
I eventually got fed up with work all night so I got myself I job in a pub. The pub had 18 real ale taps and I found that I liked looking after the ales, making sure there was always a good range of styles available and dealing with local breweries. I was sent on some training courses and brewery tours to help expand my knowledge. I learnt a lot about brewing. I organised some meet the brewers and tap takeovers with Stewart Brewing in the early days of the brewery.
I moved between a few different pubs, I always got job offers because I could increase beers sales. I always thought it was pretty easy to get beer drinkers through the door. All you need to do I look after your beers have a clean cellar, beer lines and glasswasher and stock a good range of regular and guest beers.
After 12 years working in pubs, I’d had enough of working 12 hour days, 60-70 hour weeks, and working late. So I got myself a job in a supermarket. It was a big mistake. Working in a large corporate structure wasn’t a good fit for me. After a year, I decided it was time to leave. I saw Stewart Brewing was looking for a Sales Rep and I applied. After my interview, I was told I didn’t have as much sales experience as the other candidates. A couple of weeks later, I got a phone call asking me if I would like to come in and run the brewery shop. That was five years ago.
Big thanks to Rich for answering all our questions. You can pop by and have a chat with him in our brewery taproom 7 days a week.