We used to joke at Northern Monk about the fact that even when there was ten of us, we still had no one in the business that had worked full time at a brewery. Sure, our brew team had spent time helping out at some of the best breweries in the UK, we'd brewed at home, we'd drunk a lot of beer and most importantly we were passionate, determined and knew where we wanted to go. But we were just making it as we went along, really... Then came Dave. Dave has been plying his trade for 10+ years and has brewed from Micro to Macro, dug out many a mash tun and manned many a microscope in the Lab. Dave works alongside Brian coordinating the production here at Northern Monk and has already brought us such creations as Dave MKII. He's been a great asset and we're stoked to have him on our journey...
We decided to find out more about the man under the red beanie by asking him a few questions and thought we'd share his answers with you.
So when did you first fall in love with beer and what beer was it?
My love of beer all started with my first job working at Camerons brewery, even though they mainly contract brewed lager for some of the worlds biggest brands. They also made some great old school cask beer, Strong Arm also well known as the Ruby Red which was the first beer I remember fondly from youth.
If there's one country that most inspires you when it comes to beer, which one would it be and why?
It may seem like a bit of a cop out but it has to be Belguim All. Day. Long... Their history, styles and passion for the beer they produce is amazing.
What are your top 5 beers ever?
In no particular order...
Siren and Cigar City Colab ; Carribean Chocolate Cake
Buxton : Yellow Belly
Founders : KBS
The Alchemist : Heady Topper
Mikkeller : Beer geek vanilla shake barrel aged bourbon
You’ve been in the world of beer for some time. Can you give us an insight into your path to Northern Monk?
Yeah I'm just over 10 years in the industry, my path started in my home town of Hartlepool where I was very lucky to get a start as a lab analyst. After 5 years there in the labs and falling in love with the beer industry I really wanted to get more into the brewing side of things and the craft sector as some would cal it. I applied to Mordue's brewery in Newcastle and got taken on there as there assistant brewer working under the great tutorage of Rob Millichamp. After a year I felt the need to step up my role and jumped on a train to a brew pub in York I had some great times there and made some beers that at the time were a little out-there but the lure of working for a well known craft brewery was to much and I headed off on my journey to Sheffield and ended up working for Abbeydale brewery. The time I spent there was great. I learnt a lot and can't thank Pat and Sue Morton enough for the time and money spent on helping me with my qualifications and letting me brew some beers that they'd not be known to do before. Here I am now at Northern Monk as Lead Brewer and enjoying the challenge!
You’re the man behind some great beers at your previous breweries. Are there new any beers you’d liked to brew at Northern Monk?
About four years ago I made a blood orange tea leaf IPA which I've always wanted to do again but due to the popularity of tea beers and blood orange beers recently i think it could get lost in the market! I was very happy with the marshmallow stout I did at Abbeydale but in my first week here we made that with Manchester Brewdog... (Keep an eye out for Nitro Flump!) So that leaves me one stand out beer I'd like to produce again which was a muffin beer called muffin top I made once five years ago! It was a Blueberry Vanilla and White Chocolate Pale at around 4.5 ABV but id like to pump up that ABV and maybe age it for V2.
What is it about Northern Monk that you felt an affinity with?
The reason to come to Northern Monk was simple I wanted to join a young brewery who have made a great impact on the UK brewing scene, whose ambitions matched my own and produce a wide variety of beer styles that interested me as well as having a great core range. The first time I arrived here and spoke to Russ and Brian their passion for driving the brewery forward really blew me away and I wanted to be a part of the Monk journey. Here I am as one of the Brethren and enjoying every minute.
The UK beer industry has been booming over the course of the past few years. How do you see the next few years panning out?
The quality of the UK beer scene is great at the moment and long may it continue! Due to the large number of breweries we have now in the UK as well as poor harvests like many, we here at Northern Monk are feeling the pinch on hops. This constraint forces creativity though and we're now seeing breweries making beer styles more focussed on different yeast strains, barrel ageing and botanics which I think could be the the future for many brewers
What's your favourite beer style and why?
My favourite beer style at the moment is big ABV barrel aged beers. I love the way the wood can bring so much flavour depending what has been in there beforehand and addition of coffee, chocolate, vanilla, fruits and yeast strains can produce wonderful flavours. So basically just feed me breakfast stouts and I'll be happy.
What's your favourite hop and why?
My favourite hop is Nelson Sauvin, love those crushed gooseberries flavours!
Who's your biggest brewing inspiration and why?
Outside of Northern Monk my brewing inspiration has to be Buxton, their ability to brew so many genres of beer to such a high standard is incredible!
Somehow we’ve ended up with a good 50% of our staff hailing from the North East. Are you planning some kind of further North takeover?! What’s this Parmo stuff all about?
Haha the True North is coming! Who'd have thought people would want to leave Hartlepool and Darlington right? But here we are all under one roof by the looks of it!
The Parmo....... a Chicken Schnitzel covered in bechamel sauce and cheese, the ultimate takeaway after a night out for us Teessiders !