Colin Stronge recently took on the head brewer role at Salt Brewing, bringing over a decade of experience from his time at Marble Brewery Black Isle, Buxton Brewery and  Northern Monk. We caught up with him to find out his ambitions for Salt and delve into his brewing past.

How did you get into brewing?
By accident really! I had always enjoyed industrial lagers and Guinness and when I was working in a brew pub after university I took up a role in the brewery for the pay cheque rather than the love of beer! But that soon changed as I fell in love with the processes. This love was deepened when I moved to Manchester’s Marble brewery and began working with people with a real care and passion for their work.


How much has the scene changed since then?

Immeasurably. Back then there were less than 600 breweries in the UK and very few were spending more on hops than malt, something that is probably the opposite case today. The developments in the public perception of beer and craft beer especially have dramatically changed and, to match this, the development of new styles and flavours; techniques and technologies to achieve these styles; are a world apart from where my brewing career started.


What does the head beer role at Salt involve?

A little bit of everything. From the actual brewing of the beers, the overseeing of all the brewing processes, designing recipes, ordering ingredients, overseeing the upkeep of the brew kit, managing the brewery’s three yeast strains to meeting with the public, talking with bars sales teams and doing the occasional interview


How exciting is it to be part of something so new?
Was that part of the attraction for you?

Most definitely.
I’ve worked in several jobs where the brewery had an established name and reputation to keep up. That comes with it’s own pressures; and in some cases the reputation of the previous brewer almost forms how one approaches beers there. After speaking to the team here they had made it clear that we were starting with a clean slate and that the brewery would be mine to play with as I wished. There are a lot of fun ideas floating around and new beers we want to create as a team, and to help develop the Beer Factory as a real destination venue for great beer.

 

What are your ambitions for the Salt Brew brand?

To really utilise the brewery and venue to create something truly special. The flexibility of the kit means that we can use ingredients and techniques that not everyone can easily utilise and we plan to make the best of that and ensure that we become known as brewers of not just diverse and exciting beers but of beers of consistently excellent quality too.

 

Which of the beers you have been involved with are you most proud of?
Marble’s “Janine’s One” (3.9%) was a bit of a milestone for the time and a beer people still ask myself and the other Marble guys about
Buxton’s “Rain Shadow BA with Jalapeño and Cocoa” (12%) was made in the spur of the moment when tasting a beer and imagining flavours that would work together and it turning out every bit as good as you hoped it would.
Buxton/Arizona Wilderness “Deep Rainbow Vally” (9%) was a true collaboration, made with both breweries teaching each other something along the way; foraged and new ingredients, new techniques and a lot of work that all turned out to be so worth the time put in.


Is there a beer you’d love to make that you haven’t tried yet?

Lots! There are always new styles to try and new ideas and flavours to explore.


What’s the most underrated beer you’ve tried?

Whim’s “Hartington IPA” (4.5%) I love all whim’s beers but this is one a few beers that I will almost exclusively drink when I find it on cask, no matter what else is on the bar
You’re hosting a meet the brewer event in March, do you enjoy sharing what you do and does it surprise you how interested people are?
It’s great to have people interested in what’s you do and always quite humbling that they care enough to listen to me ramble on about it. The passion of the people who enjoy your work is inspiring and always a driving factor in making us strive for consistency and quality at every stage

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