Britain’s Local Breweries: Amber Ales
Britain’s Local Breweries
Great Britain has some of the greatest breweries not just in Europe but in the world.
It is one of the oldest and widely enjoyed national traditions by us Brits and with the Great British Beer Festival coming in August, we have been in touch with some of the greatest local breweries in Britain to ask them 10 questions to find out more about themselves and what makes them unique.
Based in Amber Valley, Derbyshire, Amber Ales is “always challenging and some say audacious in style”. They are not afraid to push the boundaries in the ale world and have been highly praised for it, for example the Chocolate Orange Stout (Bitter chocolate and orange in a glass!) winning several Champion Beer of Britain and CAMRA awards.
As well as this, Amber ales brew some delicious award winning classics such as the Derbyshire Gold, Original Stout and Imperial IPA.
Ten quick interview questions with Peter Housnell
Please tell us a little about yourself
Pete Hounsell, Brewer and Director of Amber Ales for the last six years. My first commercial brew was during two weeks paternity leave from my previous job, hence my second son has “occupation of Father: Brewer” proudly on his birth certificate.
How did you get started and what sparked the idea?
As a long-time home brewer and chemical engineer with a background in the paper industry I came to a point where I wanted out of the rat-race of commuting, sitting in front of a desk all day etc. Putting those elements together I started looking at opening a brewery in about 2003, eventually commencing 2006.
What makes your beer unique?
I like to push the boundaries a little, and often brew with different ingredients (e.g. orange, jasmine flowers, chillis…) to produce beers that are ‘classic with a twist’. Not completely off the rails (usually) but often different enough to be interesting.
How do you go about naming your beers?
I usually base the names around the style or a description so people have an idea of what they are getting, such as Chocolate Orange Stout and Derbyshire Gold, although we do have a number of beers with a local theme such as Barnes Wallis IPA (he was born in Ripley) and Revolution Ale (Pentrich had the last revolution in England in 1817). Since we are located between Ripley and Pentrich is made sense!
What changes would you like to see in the industry?
The beer tax that kills us all every month. I recently visited Germany and on a brewery tour asked how much beer tax they paid. The answer: 7 Euro on a 100litre cask at 4.8%. In the UK that would be nearly £47 even at the small brewer’s reduced rate. That’s just robbery.
What’s the most surprising thing you’ve found since launching?
Surprised and pleased how open minded people are about new flavours in their beer. From big hairy bikers loving our strawberry beer (re-fermented in cask, it has a great flavour but inevitably isn’t very clear) to lots of people enjoying our Jasmine IPA at the Talbot Taphouse (our brewery tap in Ripley), or more extreme beers like Imperial Chocolate Orange: it’s great to see an appetite out there!
What’s a typical day for you?
The great thing is there is no typical day – except usually rushing round madly as there’s too much to do! I like to do my own deliveries locally to keep in touch with our customers so I might be out in the van, or brewing more beer or just generally catching up on the dreaded admin.
What future plans for the business can you share with us?
We want to push on with the experimental side and get out the great new beers I’ve got ideas for: but you can’t forget the core range that pays the bills!
If you could drink beer with three people (dead or alive), who would it be?
Brian Cox for the physics and philosophy, Malcolm Gladwell for his shrewdly entertaining observations and Niccolo Machiavelli to see if he really was like that
And finally, If you could travel to anywhere in the world right now (mainly to drink beer) where would it be and why?
Boston, USA for its great beer in a city with loads to do and see, most of which you can walk to.
For more details on Amber Ales:
Please visit their website: http://www.amberales.co.uk/
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