Tell us a bit about your brewery.
XT started in 2011 to make eXTremely tasty beers with a modern twist.
How long have you been brewing for?
I have been brewing at XT since 2011, I was very lucky to serve my apprenticeship in another great local microbrewery before that.
How did you get into brewing? Did you homebrew?
I’ve had a love of beer and brewing all my adult life, and have homebrewed nearly as long.
Who/what inspired you to be a brewer?
I lived in the US and saw the massive enthusiasm they have for beer over there.
Where is your brewery based and what capacity do you currently have?
We are at Notley Farm in the beautiful Bucks village of Long Crendon. We have a brew length of 18bbls.
Is there anything that you believe you do differently to other brewers?
We are personally committed to the success of the beers in the trade – we regularly visit our pubs, listen to what they want and act on what we hear. We are actively developing a local following and getting people interested in what we are doing with the beers and the brewery.
What steps do you take when creating a new ale? How do you decide what to make?
There are loads of beers I’d love to make, but I try and get a feel for what styles work well for our customers and will actually sell in the pubs. I am also very keen to ensure all the beers are distinct with their own standalone personality.
What do you think attracts people to your beers?
Simple, approachable branding. Well-made balanced beer.
Do you create them for a specific market, or do you brew the kind of beers that you like?
We brew beer for people who like beer.
Do you enjoy drinking your own beers?
I think I’d be doing something seriously wrong if I didn’t. I am my most fierce critic.
Which of your beers is your favourite? Have you had any outright disappointments or disasters?
Which is my favourite child? We brew a range of beers for a range of tastes and drinking circumstances, I like different beers depending on my mood, time of day, or why I’m drinking. But I guess if I was forced to pick one then I’d have to go for the FOUR, it’s a beautiful all round beer. I almost had a disaster with the ‘25’ Xmas ale when I set the wrong temperature on the FVs, but it was a eureka moment and although it took 4x times longer to brew, the result was absolutely gorgeous – I would use the same technique on another beer soon!
Do you collaborate with other brewers, and if so what do you get from this?
I love the brewing community – what other industry is so open with ideas and help? I have done a few collaboration brews so far and am really keen to do more, I always discuss my new beers with other brewers before finalising a recipe. We have just finished our Chocolate beer after collaborating with an innovative young chef; that was great fun and forced me to look at things in a totally different way. You can learn so much from working with other like-minded people.
Which other brewers would you rate especially highly and why?
Sam Calagione from the US brewery Dogfish Head. He is highly inventive, but manages to make really drinkable beers- would love to see more of his beers over here.
I also really like the adventures the guys at Mikkeller get up to, they are gypsy brewers.
What are your top 3 favourite beers of all time, and why?
St Bernardus 12 – it reminds me of a wonderful Belgian beer tour.
Stone Arrogant Bastard – it reminds me of my time living in the US.
Any well-made, well-kept English Ale in an English pub with friends (I really missed English pubs when I lived abroad).
What are your plans for the future?
We have more fermenters on order, and have several new beers on the drawing board. There might be a pub or two.
How would you describe the brewing industry in the UK?
A fantastic business to be involved with.
Where do you think the industry is going?
Beer has moved on a huge amount in the last few years and I see it becoming more and more the drink of choice with a wider range of people. Hopefully we will see more interesting beers and more adventurous beery pubs. There are so many small brewers now who are straining at the bit to make more interesting beers and customers calling for them … we just need more like minded pubs to sell them.
What is your personal view of CAMRA and SIBA?
A friend of beer is a friend of mine.
Do you have any news that you would like to share with us?
We have an exciting new strong IPA brewing soon, I can’t wait to get mashed in with that one. There are many more projects in the pipeline too.. it’s just a case of finding the time to get them started.
Do you have a website where people can find out more about your brewery?