The Man Behind The Beer

For the last few weeks, here at The Passage House Inn, we’ve been very much enjoying the second season of the Small Batch Brews club. So when we had the opportunity to talk to the man behind it all, we jumped at the chance! St Austell’s head brewer, Roger Ryman, was kind enough to clear some time from his busy schedule to have a chat with us about the project and we started by asking him where the initial inspiration for the project came from. He explained that there has always been a culture of innovation at St Austell’s Brewery and that for the last 20 years they’ve had a microbrewery on their main site which they utilise for an annual beer festival in November. It was a great opportunity for them to be creative with beers and the feedback from customers was that they wanted to drink some of these beers all year round at their local pubs, not just at the festival. So they upgraded it from a 2 brewers barrel plant to a 12 barrel plant. Each ale has a different brewer behind it and each pump clip has their own name on it which helps foster a sense of pride and ownership over their creations.

Roger explained that the Small Batch Brews serve as a great cultivation ground for what they could brew on a bigger scale. Essentially they are testing the beer and the market, the brewing differs from their larger batches of beer (such as Tribute and Proper Job) only in size. He acknowledges that although St Austell are a popular and successful brand, they don’t want to sit on their laurels and are always looking for new ideas and ways to be creative. Small Batch Brews helps with the test marketing of such ideas and in fact, they’ve ear marked a few of the beers to upscale already!

The beers have been received incredibly well by the pubs hosting the series. Roger told us that they are covering a wide geographical area with a diverse range of pubs hosting from trendy craft beer establishments to quiet rural pubs off the beaten track. The pubs opt in for a 12 beer season and then are given the option to leave if they want. Out of 40, only 2 dropped out and were immediately replaced…this incredible retention rate displays the success of the project! So successful in fact that the Season 3 program is being put together as we speak with creative juices well and truly flowing.

Of particular interest to our customers were the Eden Project inspired beers so we asked about their significance. St Austell are partners with The Eden Project who are known to be full of exciting ideas so they simply engaged with this enthusiasm during the design process. In the series, 1 in 3 beers have been made in collaboration with Eden. Most beers traditionally have just 4 ingredients but on the Eden beers, they helped to design a 5th. From the African Baobab Fruit to the recent Mango IPA, there are lots of exotic wonderful plants and fruits available to work with to design some truly unique, global beers.

Asked what his favourite part of the process of designing and brewing a new ale was, Roger enthusiastically answered…drinking it! In seriousness though, he thinks it’s the creativity. The team of brewers at St Austell are all beer enthusiasts and love innovating new beers. He told us that the industry is so vibrant at the moment and they are taking inspiration from beers from around the world. He said that seeing a vision become reality is the best part of the process.

Our time was almost up but we couldn’t leave without asking which brew was his favourite so far? The answer was one of his own, Eureka, which we’ve got on draught at the moment! This American Pale IPA has been so popular that it is one of the ones they’re looking to upscale into larger production in the future. So why not pop down and have a pint yourself and see what you think. We’re very proud to be part of the Small Batch Brews club and would like to thank Roger for his time and all his incredible work in creating such a diverse range of beers. Here’s to Season 3!



Small Batch Brews

Over the last few weeks, here at The Passage House Inn, we’ve had the absolute pleasure of being one of only a handful of pubs able to offer a range of different delicious ales crafted by St Austell Brewery as part of their first Small Batch Beer Club season. As we’re winding down towards the last few, we thought it’d be interesting to delve a little deeper and find out some more about them.

The Small Batch Brewery is a relatively new venture for the folk at St Austell; in their own words, ‘building on the success of our previous micro-brewery, but delivering up to 3,000 pints at any one time instead of the previous 600, the Small Batch Brewery is designed to allow St Austell’s team of highly skilled and innovative brewers to keep experimenting with new flavours and new beer styles while further developing the skills of the master brewer using a truly ‘hands-on’ brewing system’. It is undoubtedly a pretty exciting time for beer in the South West. Although we offer and love a wide range of drinks, we can’t deny that the heart of our business lies with beer. And we wouldn’t have it any other way! We are passionate about supporting local and small businesses by putting on regular guest ales and our customers love the choice that it gives them as well as the opportunity to try a pint they’ve not had before.

We’ve been so impressed with the amazing diversity in the 12 beers that the brewing team at St Austell have concocted for this first run. We’ve had Gorse-Ed, inspired by the Eden Project, the ever so tasty Vanilla & Bourbon Porter, a sweet honey infused Black & Gold and several more. We’re especially looking forward to the next one that we’ll be putting on, Seven Cs & Rye, an ale with seven hops all starting with the letter ‘C’, how’s that for a bit of brewing fun?! We’re very proud to have such a great relationship with St Austell and look forward to seeing what else the Small Batch Brewery gets up to. It is also going to form the heart of their soon-to-open interactive visitor centre and we’ll be one of the first lining up to have a look round! In the meantime though, why not pop down and sample one of these limited edition ales, here at The Passage House Inn in Topsham, whilst stocks last!