I was paid a visit from my good friend Mat (no that’s not a misspelling) back in mid-September 2017, and he came bearing a very special gift. Mat actually gave me the heads up a week before informing me that his sister sent some very special ales with him for me to try. He did tell me about his sister’s brewing project earlier in the year, so imagine my excitement to get my hands on these samples of special liquid for the first time!
I wasted no time trying these ales of English origin. In fact, the 4 ales from STU BREW (a brewing project being Europe’s first student run brewery) are the first ones we are BrewViewing from the UK. We have BrewViewed other ales in the English style (mainly Imperial Stouts) but those originated from breweries that produced ales in the classic Belgian styles first. Writing about ales from a brewery that produced English styles as their original focus was going to be an original BrewView for us.
We had every intention of producing our 5th BREWERY SPOTLIGHT on Stu Brew within the month of September / October 2017, however our pre-existing projects got in the way, and unfortunately the article had to be put on the back burner. Coupling our previously scheduled projects and events with the year-end holidays, turned a 30-day delay into 5 months. Our sincerest apologies go out to the entire crew at Stu Brew for the massive postponement. But hey- better late than never, right???
So finally, without further ado, we bring you our BREWERY SPOTLIGHT for February 2018 (albeit the end of February 2018), on Stu Brew from Newcastle University, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK.
ABOUT stu brew
Stu Brew is Europe’s first student-run microbrewery based at Newcastle University. They are a sustainable microbrewery, managed by students through Newcastle University Students’ Union. The brewery is capable of producing over 400L per batch and is available at venues across the University campus, including Luther’s, EAT@Newcastle venues and external pubs and bars such as The Crow’s Nest and The Town Mouse.
Launched in August 2013, Stu Brew became one of only 25 environmental and sustainability initiatives in the UK to be awarded funding from the National Union of Students’ ‘Student Green Fund’. Stu Brew was set up through Student Community Action Newcastle (SCAN) and is now part of Go Volunteer. All sales profits are invested back into training and development for students and overall long-term sustainability of the enterprise.
Their brewery is a 2.5 barrel facility and was installed in August 2014 with the first brew being 16th November 2014. They also have a 20L experimental kit for recipe design and small-scale brews. Set up with sustainability at heart, hops are grown on the student allotments and the brewing process uses a hot water recovery system to make the process more energy efficient. They send spent malt to a local farmer for use as animal feed and hop residue gets composted on the allotments.
They have established a partnership with the School of Engineering and act as a research unit for sustainable brewery design, seeking to become an example of good environmental practice in the brewing field. Stu Brew works closely with academics from the school and other local microbreweries in the North East to improve their process and share best practice. (Source: Stu Brew)
INTERVIEW WITH ONE OF THE ORIGINATORS OF STU BREW, EMMA “RED” KELLIE
TELL US HOW YOU BECAME A BREWER?
I took a similar route to a lot of brewers in that I started out by brewing country wines and homebrew beers around 15 years ago. I’ve always been interested in playing with flavours, cooking and preserving produce, and brewing became a natural extension of that. For around 10 years, I worked for Newcastle University Students’ Union, helping volunteers to run various sustainability and environmental projects, and in 2013 applied to the Student Green Fund for a grant to set up a student-run sustainable microbrewery. The Students’ Union formed a partnership with the School of Engineering, so that Stu Brew is now both a student-led commercial enterprise, a research lab, and a training project. The venture has grown and evolved over the last four years, with the involvement of hundreds of students volunteering their time to input and develop their recipe ideas, entrepreneurial spirit and business skills.
WHAT WAS THE MOTIVATING FACTOR TO INSTALL EUROPE’S FIRST STUDENT RUN BREWERY?
We were keen to educate students, university staff and the wider public about sustainable business and environmental responsibility using a different subject matter than practical outdoor conservation work. As the brewing industry has a huge impact in terms of water, energy and chemical usage, we thought that looking into ways of potentially reducing this impact whilst brewing great beers would be an interesting challenge, and we were right!
WHAT CHALLENGES DID YOU HAVE WITH THE PROCESS PARAMETERS OF BREWING ON A COLLEGE CAMPUS?
There were some initial concerns from fairly high up in the University hierarchy about having a brewery on campus, which was totally understandable as Newcastle University does a lot of teaching and research on reducing the impact of alcohol use. We were however, able to convince those in power of the value of having a student-led enterprise at the heart of the campus would be fabulous opportunity for students to gain real-life business experience, and at the same time we could educate students about responsible drinking by promoting a better understanding of quality crafted alcoholic drinks which deserved to be appreciated and savoured rather than knocked back 10 pints at a time! Now, Stu Brew is regularly commended by the University, and has won several awards from the Vice Chancellor and was recently awarded international Enterprise & Sustainability awards at the Reimagine Education Awards in Philedelphia. http://www.ncl.ac.uk/press/articles/archive/2017/12/stubrewreimagineawards/
The site used for the brewery itself, is situated within the School of Engineering, so the brewery as well as being a thriving social enterprise business, also acts as a research lab for sustainable brewery design. Many undergraduate and post-graduate students hone their sustainability research skills in a live business environment.
WHAT RESPONSE DID YOU HAVE FROM STUDENTS IN THE VERY BEGINNING?
Very enthusiastic. From the outset, there was been an extremely committed and keen team of students who signed up and gave a great deal of time and energy to getting the venture off the ground. It took around 14 months to get through all of the permissions, licensing and paperwork, to get to a point where we were all set up and ready to brew at the site on campus, which meant the very first cohort of students had to be very dedicated without the added bonus of regular beer production and the satisfaction of sales. Now, 4 years on, hundreds of students have been trained in how to brew beer and hone their skills at sales, business management, creative design, financial planning, logistics and the many other skills involved in running a microbrewery.
AS YOU KNOW, THERE ARE BREWING SCHOOLS IN GERMANY, ENGLAND AND BELGIUM. DID YOU USE THEIR PROGRAMS AS MOTIVATION TO START STU BREW?
Two members of staff; myself and a colleague from the School of Engineering, Dr.Chris O’Malley (who like myself was also previously a keen homebrewer) trained at Brewlab in Sunderland in order to gain the technical knowledge needed to then pass on skills to the students we work with. At the beginning, we felt a bit like we’d jumped in to a crazy adventure in brewing, there was so much to learn, and it all had to be learned and taught safely, and with over a hundred keen students also learning alongside us who all had different ideas which they wanted to make happen. Stu Brew is certainly the sum of many parts, with lots of people coming together to make it all happen.
Thanks again for your interest in Stu Brew, and say hi to Mat for me! Can’t wait to see him with his new hair doo 🙂
OUR BREWERY SPOTLIGHT BREWVIEWS ON STU BREW ALES
BrewView author GORDON A. PONCE is the main driving force behind Belgian Beer Journal.com. Since 1983, Gordon recognized that beers from Belgium were special, set apart from the typical craft beer.
He views beers from Belgium (plus Belgian-style and Belgian Inspired beers from other countries) great examples of the brewer’s art. Gordon and his wife live in beautiful Northern California- a great place to enjoy Belgian beer! Ecclesiastes 8:15