Welcome to the latest edition of News from the Brewhouse. For those eagle eyed enough to have spotted us on the recent Countryfile – ‘Shakespeare Special’ you will have seen the Bard of Barnsley, Ian McMillan visiting us and talking to our Front of House Manager, John Conod about Purity’s top secret tasting panel. And we wanted to give our Puritans the down low on just what happens, when every Friday various members of the Purity team disappear into the visitor centre for a special beer tasting.
John introduced Ian into this secret and now that the word is out we thought we would grab a chat with Aaron Taubman our Quality Control Manager, so he could explain to our Puritans, just what we get up to.
Firstly Aaron, tasting beer for a living must be really hard work I guess?
Well it certainly sounds good doesn’t it, but in all seriousness there is much more to it than just standing around drinking a pint. My role at Purity as Quality Control Manager means I oversee all aspects of the production process to ensure that we produce the best quality beer possible. The odd taste test along the way is a perk of the job, but one that is done for the greater good in ensuring that our Puritans get the perfect pint.
How did the tasting panel come about?
Purity has always had a tasting panel. Before I arrived the tastings were all conducted in the brew house by the brew team and Paul and Jim. Nowadays though with Paul and Jim much busier and our standards even higher than ever, we have had to change the way we do things.
All great breweries all have a tasting panel as it ensures that all the beer we produce meets the high standards we set ourselves and by bringing staff members in from all the different departments it reduces the bias that could occur if it was just myself and the brewing team. That is what makes our tasting panel so special that each department takes responsibility for the quality of the beer that goes out of the brewery.
What are the benefits to conducting a tasting panel?
The main benefit is we are able to ensure that what we are brewing meets the quality standards we set but it also allows us to track from brew to brew and see what changes. It provides a quality assurance approach to the brewing process and is something, which has provided inspiration for other quality control processes in other areas of the business as we strive to achieve Pure Quality throughout the brewery.
By having a weekly tasting panel we can quickly detect any potential problems or changes in the beer and put processes in place to ensure that we don’t experience any crises. It also allows us to establish whether we need to make any tweaks to our recipes to keep the beers in tip-top condition. Because we constantly strive to brew the best beer possible we always open ourselves up to honest feedback and the tasting panel is a great platform to test our consistency.
What are the key things you’re looking for in each session?
The key things we are looking for are aroma, how true to brand each of the samples are and most importantly whether the flavour profiles of each beer are as we would expect. Recently we have been doing some work on enhancing the tropical notes we achieve in Longhorn IPA and thanks to the work by of the tasting panel we have been able to increase the aroma profile of the beer.
Have any adjustments been made to any of our beers following the response on these panels?
Yes – many changes have been implemented thanks to the findings of the tasting panel. It goes back to what I said earlier, we are constantly looking to improve and brew the best beer we can. The panel has helped us to make some subtle improvements here and there to recipes and have even been part of the rejection of a batch of hops, which as the brew team suspected, were not up to our own exacting standards.
It must be weird for you to have your work judged by your peers?
No not at all, in actual fact it is refreshing. By opening up our round table it gives some of the team who don’t often have much to do with the beer a real insight into what we get up too. It keeps us on our toes and as innovators, we like that!
What beers have stood out in the tasting panel to date?
Well the two highest scoring beers of the sessions so far have been ‘X’ our bourbon aged Rye IPA and a new beer, which we have coming out soon!
Flo and I created ‘X’ to celebrate Purity’s 10th birthday and both the bottle a limited edition keg version scored really highly with all our tasters. The second brew was one that is yet to see the light of day (apart from a few special test locations) and it scored higher than any other beer we have tasted to date. This is really exciting as we have been thinking about brewing this style of beer for a while and it seems like we are definitely on the right track with it and after a couple more small changes, think it will be ready to launch. Watch this space I guess!
Hopefully we have been able to bring you a real insight into how serious we take quality of the beer we produce and that every member of the Purity team plays an important role into producing our award winning beers. If you want to learn more about X the highest rated beer at the round table tastings then take a look back at our previous News from the Brewhouse here…. Or to buy your own commemorative brew check out www.bottleshack.uk