One of Brains’ longest serving master brewers is to retire after more than 40 years in the brewing industry - 26 of which have been spent with Brains.
Don’s brewing career began at Heriot Watt University in 1971, where he completed his brewing degree. His first job took him to Courage as a production trainee, moving across various sites including John Smith’s, Tadcaster and Simonds Brewery. He gained his master brewer qualification while working at the Courage bottling plant, London Bridge. In 1979 he joined Guinness, Park Royal, producing both Harp and Guinness, before relocating to the Isle of Man to become head brewer at Castletown Brewery, which later became Okell’s.
In 1988 Don took on a head brewer role at Buckley’s in Llanelli, which was later acquired by Brains. While there he created a new premium ale, The Rev. James, which was named after one of the brewery’s early owners, Methodist minister James Buckley, and has since become one of Brains’ most popular cask ales. Don’s last move was to Brains’ Crawshay Street site in 1999, becoming packaging manager.
Bill Dobson, head brewer at Brains, said: "Don has been a pivotal member of our production team for the last 15 years, supporting the growth of Brains brands, and more recently was part of the team to establish Brains Craft Brewery."
Don added: "There have been many changes during my years in the industry – often challenging and demanding, but always stimulating. I’ll miss the day to day contact with my colleagues but I’m now looking to put a bit back by offering my skills as a brewing consultant and trainer, for both brewing apprentice programmes and formal qualifications for the Institute of Brewing and Distilling."
To mark his retirement, Don has brewed his own Alt style beer in Brains’ craft brewery, with a name that plays on his other passion – magic. Don is a long-time member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians and the Society of American Magicians. Old Tricks uses Munich and Crystal malts, Hallertau and Saaz hops and Dusseldorf Alt yeast, resulting in a combination of sweet malt, caramel and rich raisin flavours, and a classic floral, spicy aroma from the noble hops.
Old Trick will be available in Brains Pubs after 12th May. For a list of stockists visit www.brainscraftbrewery.com