After attending a brewing experience at Brewhouse & Kitchen, home-brewer Belinda loved it so much she went out and got a job with them. Our Editor in Chief, Paul Bailes, caught up with Brewhouse & Kitchen’s first female brewer, Belinda Kelly, to find out more about why becoming a brewmaster was the career of choice:
Paul: So Belinda, how do you get in to brewing beer originally?
Belinda: Well, my husband and I started homebrewing about 14 years ago. It was simply because we didn’t have a lot of money but we loved our beer. It was a hobby initially and I started brewing because he wouldn’t make a beer that I really wanted to drink. So I thought if he showed me how to do it, then I could make it myself!
Paul: You must have been over the moon when you discovered that Brewhouse and Kitchen were running a female only experience in celebration of International Women’s Day in 2017. Did you ever imagine that it would lead to you running your own premises?
Belinda: No – I thought I’d go along and see what they were doing as I already have an interest in brewing anyway. It was brilliant and I thought to myself, why not give it a go… My eldest is already at school and my youngest will soon be starting so I needed something to focus on having been a stay at home mum.
Paul: So what do they think about your job now?
Belinda: My husband thinks it’s great and, to be honest, my kids are indifferent. They’re 14 and 3 so neither are interested in beer just yet!
Paul: Is working in the brewing trade very different to how you imagined it would be, already having some experience of making your own beer?
Belinda: Yes – it’s a big step up from home brewing and is a very physical job. I’m lucky in that I have a relatively small brewery at 320 litres.
Paul: What’s it like working at Brewhouse & Kitchen
Belinda: It’s great! No two days are the same and it’s not often a brewer gets to see their beer being enjoyed by the customer. Getting direct feedback from the people who are drinking it is priceless.
Paul: Do you think that the majority of people are aware of the variety and different types of beer that are available?
Belinda: No, I don’t think the majority do. We do hold Master Classes here and people are surprised at some of the beers we offer, especially the sour or smoked beers.
Paul: I guess that following on from this that restaurants could do more to educate how different beers can complement a meal – as it does with wines?
Belinda: Most definitely. As well as running beer masterclasses, Brewhouse & Kitchen also organise beer and foodmatching experiences to do exactly that. I guess people don’t think about it in the same way that they do when it comes to drinking wine. Just because you have one beer, it doesn’t mean you have to drink the same kind all evening.
Paul: How have you found working in such a male dominated industry and how have they take to a female brewer?
Belinda: It is obviously male dominated but all the brewers I’ve met are lovely. They’re not surprised at all that I’m doing what they do – we all just love beer so they are happy that someone else is as excited by it as they are.
Paul: Do you think the industry could do more to make female beer experts more visible?
Belinda: I think it is already happening organically; there are more brewers and ladies enjoying their beers.
Paul: CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) have reported and increase in the number of women trying real ale has jumped from 14% to 34% in the past 3 years. What do you put that down to?
Belinda: I’m not sure – maybe having more choice and more interesting beers to choose from as well as the way they are marketed.
Paul: What would you say to those women that think that beer is ‘brown, boring and bitter’?
Belinda: Well, that ties to the first question… The reason that I wanted to brew that first beer was to try and get my girlfriends to enjoy beer the way I did. So, I made it less bitter, more tropical and fruity by adding lots of American hops in the fermenter. As the saying goes “don’t knock it til you try it” – they will hopefully be pleasantly surprised.
Paul: What’s unique about your beer?
Belinda: I’m not sure that there is anything particularly unique. There are so many breweries and beers out there it’s difficult to be truly unique but I do know it is made with love!
Read our previous article on Brewhouse & Kitchen here:
Creating a brew-haha of a different kind!