Crafty Women is a new series dedicated to highlighting women within the beer industry. From hop picking to brewing to selling to writing, the world of beer is more accessible to women than it ever was before and we are killing it.
Red Kellie, other than having possibly the coolest name in the world, is Head Brewer at Twice Brewed Brewhouse.
The creation of a brewery at the Twice Brewed Inn was always destined to be as it is positively steeped in brewing history. The legend of Twice Brewed tells the tale of Roman Soldiers reaching the frontier and complaining to their superiors that the local beer was far too weak for them. The beer was ordered to be brewed again resulting in a stronger, heartier tipple! This went on for quite some time, and certainly developed a reputation for the area, a reputation owners Reuben and Sophie Straker are hoping to re-establish.
But back to Red. Red started out like most brewers – brewing country wines and basic homebrew beers, moving onto all-grain brewing on a small 100litre kit around 8 years ago. After heading down to Sunderland to train with Brewlab she went about setting up the First & Last Brewery and Stu Brew, a social enterprise student run microbrewery at Newcastle University. Before long she had attracted the attention of Reuben Straker, who asked for her help in setting up the Twice Brewed Brewhouse – needless to say she jumped at the chance!
In just 13 weeks the brewhouse went from groundworks to fully functioning brewery with its first 3 ales in production – Sycamore Gap Pale Ale (4.1%), Twice Brewed Best Bitter (3.8%) and Ale Caesar (4.2%).
Goodness knows how she managed to find the time to answer my questions, but I’m so grateful she did. This, beeros, is Red Kellie:
What was it that attracted you to brewing?
I have always been into growing, cooking and preserving, and over time got interested in brewing country wines and then beers, moving onto all-grain brewing around 8 years ago. I love playing with flavours, and became fascinated with the process of brewing, where even the smallest changes in temperature, fermentation conditions, pH and source ingredients have a huge impact on the final product, there’s so much to play with which is what I found enticing.
What does a typical day look like for you?
The Twice Brewed Brew House is such a lovely space to work in – light and airy – so I like to get in early, have a double check of the brew kit and check on any beers already in fermenters, and then get mashed in. The smell of malted grain fills the brewery and I’ve got chance then to catch up on ordering ingredients or sorting supplies. After transferring and sparging into the Copper, I’ve then got a bit of a wait whilst the wort comes up to the boil before adding the first hops, so I’ll get on with casking up a previous batch or planning out a new recipe. It’s all new here at Twice Brewed – we’re still making tweaks to the building, working on the brewery brand and website, and working towards our first bottling runs, so there’s plenty to do!
Have you encountered any difficulties in the beer industry as a woman and how has this developed over the years?
I think the brewing industry is an incredibly welcoming community. Folks are so generous with their time and knowledge – I think that’s because the vast majority of brewers really love what they do. There are more and more women coming back into beer production nowadays, which is great, as for hundreds of years women have been the keystone of brewing within their communities. Known as ‘brewsters’ rather than brewers, they were often a central pillar for their families and villages providing fermented beverages which were safe to drink – unlike unboiled water which could often spread disease.
Do you think the industry could do more to entice women into the world of beer?
I feel that women are already a well-respected market within the world of beer; any brewery still relying on old-fashioned branding with buxom beauties and tacky beer names to sell their product is looking like yesterday’s news. There are so many superb beers out there to choose from to suit every taste. I feel that the vast majority of women who are into beer don’t want products specifically branded for them, they just want to enjoy great beers!
Social events across the brewing and beer world generally tend to be welcoming to everyone, and as an ever-increasing number of women enter the beer production side of things, what is already a creative, forward-looking industry can only be enhanced further.
How do you feel about the rise of “craft” beer and how has this impacted you?
There is so much debate (some of it not particularly constructive) around craft beer vs real ale. I love brewing beer for cask; I also love to experiment with flavours, process, new techniques and equipment. The beer and brewing world is experiencing a sustained explosion in the range of beer styles being produced from an inspired community of microbrewers. Twice Brewed Brewhouse is now part of that adventure in the North East – bring it on!
What has been your proudest achievement in your career?
I think seeing Stu Brew, the first student-run microbrewery in Europe, develop into a thriving social enterprise over the last 4 years has been a really satisfying experience. It’s now a well-known and respected brand across Newcastle, collaborating with a whole host of other local breweries, and the student team are producing their own range of outstanding beers. Ex-members are now going off into all aspects of the brewing industry using the knowledge, experience and confidence that they’ve gained through Stu Brew, and it’s very rewarding for me to keep in touch with their journeys into the brewing world.
What is your favourite beer of all time?
I love my porters and stouts, and I’m blown away by Brass Castle’s Bad Kitty at the moment. The Kernel’s Export India Porter is also a memorably fabulous pint.
Are there any exciting things in the pipeline for the Twice Brewed Brewhouse?
Within 6 weeks of the main brewhouse being up and running, we’ve got 4 core products launched to fantastic local feedback – Sycamore Gap Pale Ale, Ale Caesar – a robust American Amber, Twice Brewed English Best Bitter and Vindolanda IPA which is hopped with Centennial, Cascade and Chinook. We’ll be launching the bottled range next month, and open the brew house doors to tours and tastings in our very own Tap Room from October onwards.