Five minutes with... Stewart Tricker - Senior Brewer and Quality Manager

Posted: 16 June 2014

Blog category: Meet the Team

Age: 52

Lives:  Bearsted

Education: BSc in Chemistry; Chartered Chemist; Diploma in Brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling; Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) Advanced; Auditor Training

Career: Six years working as an Analytical Lab Manager for an ophthalmic company, before working at Scottish Courage as a Brewer for 16 years. In 2004 he joined Shepherd Neame as Quality Manager, then went on to hold a variety of roles including Projects Manager, Production Resources Manager and Senior Brewer, before taking on his present job in 2013

Positions held: Member of the Royal Society of Chemistry; Committee member of the Institute of Brewing and Distilling (Southern Section)

Hobbies and interests: Gardening, assistant church warden and lay member of the Parochial Church Council

Favourite Shepherd Neame beer: Whitstable Bay Pale Ale

Favourite non-Shepherd Neame beer: Courage Best Bitter

What are your main responsibilities?
In total, I manage eight staff. I am responsible for purchasing everything for the production area, from essential items such as malt, barley and hops, to glass, cardboard and even staff uniform and stationery. We don’t have much storage space, so it has to be carefully ordered so it arrives just in time. I am quality manager, responsible for the laboratory team, who carry out tests on the beer brewed. I am also responsible for the brewery’s wide range of audits, including ISOs 9000 and 14000, FEMAS, Soil Association, Protected Geographical Indication, and certification for our trade customers, such as supermarkets.

What does a typical day involve?
I normally work from 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday. Every day starts with a team meeting with the lab staff at 8.30am, then at 9am is a tasting of the previous day’s production. After that, what I do changes from day to day, although I typically spend one or two days a week on audits.

What are the most rewarding parts of your job?
Getting a clean bill of health in all audits, and winning awards for our beer.

What is tough about the job?
Juggling the workload. We have a huge number of audits to complete, and we are working on an historic site which makes it even harder.

What attracted you to the industry?
I chose to study chemistry at university as I enjoyed science when I was growing up – particularly being in the school lab making smells and bangs! I hadn’t got a clue what I was going to do afterwards, but I ended up in roles where I was involved with quality control. I have always loved beer, and as I grew up in Bexley, I was delighted when the opportunity arose to return to Kent and work for Shepherd Neame. It is a very fun, social industry, with staff from different breweries regularly getting together.

Has the industry changed since you first joined?
Brewing is now counted as part of the food industry, which has greatly increased the number of audits we have to undertake. Also, when I first started, all breweries just produced a handful of well-known beers, but now people want choice, so we have lots of seasonal ales and new brands. That has greatly increased our workload in the lab, testing the batches.

What personal characteristics help you in your role?
Good negotiating and organisational skills, being able to work as part of a team, and a sense of humour.