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Posted: 18 October 2011
Process Development Engineer, Rupert Hodgkins, describes his experience at the Institute of Brewers & Distillers' 'Ultimate Brewing Challenge':
I, along with two colleagues, recently attended the inaugural Ultimate Brewing Challenge organised by the IBD. The event was held at BRI’s Nutfield site and lasted for two days.
The event was themed along the lines of “The Apprentice” with Simon Jackson of the IBD styling himself “Lord” Jackson. He and his associates, made up of BRI staff with wide experience in the brewing world, formed the panel of judges who would determine the winner of the challenge.
There were two parts to the challenge. The first was to come up with a business plan for a microbrewery to be based at the BRI site. The plan had to include a name, brands, example packaging, a layout, full start up costs, and cash flow projections for 5 years…in short, everything we’d need to persuade Lord Jackson to invest £200,000 of his beer-tokens in our business.
Additionally, there was a series of mini-challenges held over the two day period, which included the flavour-profiling of liqueurs, hop identification and grading, the assembly and operation of a mash filter without the aid of instructions, and a quiz about the correct labelling of alcoholic products.
All the participants were taken to the nearby Westerham brewery to have a look round with owner and head brewer Robert Wicks. He was very forthcoming with brewing techniques, marketing advice and business strategies relevant to the craft-brewing industry. The tour culminated with sandwiches and some of Robert’s beer at the local pub. I drank the Summer Perle Golden Ale from the last brew of the season, which was bright, clean and outrageously hoppy!
At the end of the second day the three teams presented their complete business plans to Lord Jackson. In a shock decision, he decided that since all the presentations were equally good the victory would be awarded to the team who’d scored the most in the mini-challenges.
We had a lot of fun participating in the challenge. It was an excellent chance to meet people from other companies, and really think about the process of starting a brewery from scratch..
Also, we was robbed!
Rupert, Nicola and Jemima with the other members of the IBD that took part in the Ultimate Brewing Challenge