Master Brewer at Greene King
Ross O’Hara, brewer at Greene King’s historic Bury St Edmunds Brewery has lead the development of Band of Brewers IPA. We pulled up a bar stool with Ross to find out his story.
“It all started with science, believe it or not. I wouldn’t say I’m geeky, but I’ve always been interested in the practical application of science. So applying science, and getting beer as an output is the best form of practical application I can think of!”
Originally from Newcastle, Ross went onto study Brewing & Distilling in Edinburgh and began his career North of the border, having graduated with First Class Honours from Heriot Watt University, joining the graduate program with Heineken. It was from here that Ross ventured South, to Bury St Edmunds to join Greene King in 2015.
“My role as a development brewer is really quite exciting as I am involved in many different brewing projects, from developing new beers, collaborating with other breweries and focusing on our brewery’s quality programme, something close to my heart.”
“The cask ale world is thirsty for new, exciting beers and so I have been involved in a number of pieces of new product development, including developing the recipe for & brewing Amplified Pale Ale & Starry Night that both featured in Greene King Locals Pubs.”
Day in the Life Of a Greene King Brewer
“A typical day starts in the cellar, tasting beers packaged in the last 24 hours. Its tough way to start the day, but someone’s got to do it! However, on a serious note, we take the quality of our beer extremely seriously and is something I’m truly passionate about. Each morning we are tasting beers to ensure they are ‘true to type’ and that no off flavours are present in the beer. At Greene King we have rigorous procedures to ensure all beer that leaves the brewery gates is perfect, and we pride ourselves upon that.”
“I’m often working very closely with the marketing team in the development of new beers that we sell both in the on and off-trade. Be it conceiving a new product idea, writing a recipe or presenting a trial brew to customers. I then work closely with our purchasing team to source new varieties of hops from across the globe to push the boundaries of brewing, and our taste buds!”
“Without getting too technical, I am responsible for checking lab analysis of beers that are being brewed, to ensure all stages of the process is on track, so I’m regularly in the brewery’s lab.”
“I’m also on my feet speaking to people about our great beers very regularly. From weekly staff engagement sessions where I introduce a new beer to colleagues & lead a tasting, to presenting a new trial beer to our Exec team for approval before full production.”
Mentoring at The Craft Academy
“At least once a week, I travel to London to The Florence in Herne Hill, as I mentor the Craft Academy team, from a brewing perspective. The Craft Academy is a Greene King supported brewery project, with the aim to brew great beer and unbottle potential in young people through an apprenticeship programme. I coach and mentor the apprentices in the hands on practical methods of brewing, on the 4 barrel brewery kit housed within The Florence pub.”
“The one in my hand! Or…. If it has to be a real beer, then Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout 11.8% ABV! In terms of a beer I have helped brew our latest creation, Band of Brewers was developed with people who actually run Greene King pubs. It’s been exciting to develop, a brand new ale with landlords as passionate as I am about great beer.”