1st June 2017

Meet the brewers

Brew Master Raffaele Sbuez

When did your brewing career begin?
In Peroni Brewery, Padua plant on 1983

Why did you become a brewer?
I am a microbiologist with studies on biochemistry. It was a natural choice to apply for a brewery

What is the best thing about your job?
To work with natural ingredients and a natural process, the same as thousands years ago

What’s the most exciting brew or project that you’ve worked on?
The project how to improve the beer flavour stability was a work that lasts three years during which we have analysed the main aspects of the brewing process that could impact on beer quality. Never like in that period of time we knew such a lot of thing about beer and we had such a good results in terms of quality

What makes beer special for you?
Beer is not a simple beverage is a way of stay together in an informal way, having fun, chatting, laughing and dreaming  

Do you have a favourite beer?
PNA is my favourite beer

If you hadn’t been a brewer, what career would you have chosen?
I would be a teacher at high school.

Ciaran Giblin

When did your brewing career begin?
In 2000. I studied brewing and distilling at Heriot-Watt University at the International Centre for Brewing and Distilling, and started working in local breweries in the North West of England.

Why did you become a brewer?
Developed a passion for cask ale and the variety of the cask ale styles available in England; this passion led to an interest in beer and the process of brewing, further cemented by work experience within cask ale breweries. Eventually I became somewhat obsessed with understanding the process and how to adapt various steps and ingredients within the process to create different flavours and styles of beer. The other thing I found very interesting was the complex range of skills needed to complement the physical process of brewing.

What is the best thing about your job?
Working alongside a great team of passionate and innovative brewers to create consistently great tasting modern craft beers. Every day brings a fresh challenge and opportunity to experiment with creating new and exciting beers, and discovering new hops and ingredients.

What’s the most exciting brew or project that you’ve worked on?
We recently brewed a beer based on my DNA taste preferences – the ‘DNAle’. Using cutting edge genetic profiling to map my personal preferences towards specific flavour profiles, it was determined I’m (perhaps unsurprisingly) a fan of bitter flavours. We then created a very hoppy 10% ABV Double IPA, called Double Helix to match these preferences.

What beer innovation do you wish had been your idea?
The craft beer revolution was originally built on the back of home brewers in the USA experimenting with big, hoppy IPA’s and in-your-face beer styles which were also balanced. This revolutionised the beer industry and kick started the craft beer industry as we know it today.

What makes beer special for you?
Everything! From the look, taste and aroma of it, through to the great social occasions it’s linked to.

Do you have a favourite beer?
There are far too many to list. It really depends on where, when and the company I’m sharing a beer with. One favourite I always go back to has to be our Yakima Red, with its tropical hop aromas and fruity citrus flavours.

If you hadn’t been a brewer, what career would you have chosen?
I would love to be a Cheese Maker. Much like beer, there are so many tiny elements you can change in the process which affect the profile of the cheese, making it a very diverse and interesting product.

Brew Master Harro de Vries

When did your brewing career begin?
My brewing career actually had two beginnings, one in 2004 and again in 2015. After having worked in Packaging for four years as a shift team leader, I started in Brewing in 2004 in a highly automated 10 million hectoliter brewery. I had received my brewer’s training from the IBD (Institute Of Brewing and Distilling) in the UK  a few years earlier but had not needed that  knowledge  as much in Packaging so I really needed to brush it up when I started as production manager for Filtration. And then two years ago, I again needed to refresh my brewing knowledge when I started with Grolsch after having been out of the brewing industry for a few years. And it is a great industry to be in. It is very open, very international and everybody knows everyone else.

Why did you become a brewer?
First and foremost, beer is a great product – everybody has an opinion about it and beer means “friendship and fun”. Second, it is great to work in production and walk into a store knowing that every drop of Grolsch that is sold there has been brewed in “my” brew house and has passed through the piping just outside my office. And finally, I was attracted to brewing because of the international opportunities it has to offer.

What is the best thing about your job?
Walking through the brewery and seeing several football fields with stainless steel installations and knowing that all of it is controlled and maintained by only a handful of brewing experts and technicians. It is human ingenuity at its best; we make more than a million liters a day and it is all of the same quality. When I come back to brewing at Grolsch, I also realized how much I had missed the smell inside the brew house and the cellars.

What’s the most exciting brew or project that you’ve worked on?
The most fascinating project in the last two years has been the introduction of a new fermentation technology for producing our high-alcohol beers like Grolsch Het Kanon and Amsterdam Maximator (both 11.5% alcohol by volume). All this does is better mix the beer and the yeast and making “life easier for the yeast”. Normally, the high alcohol was always quite detrimental for our yeast, causing slight haze and light off-flavors (at least for a experienced taster) but this technology proves again that yeast is the real brewer – the outcome is a brighter and better tasting strong lager. I had never expected the change to be so big.

What beer innovation do you wish had been your idea?
Does pale lager beer count? It isn’t a recent innovation (19th century) but I still think that nothing beats a crisp clear pilsner with fresh bitterness and it was very innovative at the time.

What makes beer special for you?
I think that it is fascinating that the beer that is perceived as least special, lager beer, is actually the most difficult beer to make. And it is especially difficult to make the same beer always with raw materials that greatly vary in quality – at Grolsch every year is a good “vintage” year despite the differences in the quality of the barley that we use for our malt. It just shows how well we understand and control our process that we can make every bottle taste the same; Craftmanship is Mastery we call it at Grolsch!

Do you have a favourite beer?
I’m fond of our Grolsch Weizen – what a difference a yeast makes. But in general I like hoppy bitter beers like our Grolsch lager, a stout or a good Urtyp. At the Brau trade show in Nuremberg, I had the Westcoast IPA “In Your Face” from CREW Republic in München. This beer shows how much richness and aroma hops can add to beer without being over-powering in bitterness (though 70 BU). A very well balanced beer.

If you hadn’t been a brewer, what career would you have chosen?
A chef or a mathematician. Or maybe both – is that a weird combination?