Look after your people, Bamforth tells brewers

Charlie Bamforth and the Hazy IPA

Brewers have no chance of making quality beers if their workforce is unhappy and unmotivated, Professor Charlie Bamforth has told the Craft Brewers Conference in Adelaide.

In a wide-ranging keynote speech, Bamforth said this simple message was drummed into him by his first ever boss, Robin Manners, who was chief executive at Bass Brewers in Britain.

“If you look after the people they will ensure the quality,” Bamforth said.

“The first thing you’ve got to be absolutely committed to, is looking after the people who are in your companies, that is absolutely critical.

“If they are not motivated, trained, educated, driven and proud to be in that company, they won’t deliver.

“The person who’s cleaning out the restrooms, the toilets, if they’re not doing their job, everything will grind to a halt pretty damn quick.

“Everybody is important and everybody needs to be minded and committed to quality,” he said.

Be consistently hazy
Bamforth said he has no problem with the hotly debated New England or Hazy IPA beer style, with one caveat.

“I believe in consistency and it doesn’t matter if it’s bland as hell, or whether it’s intense. It’s got to be consistent,” he said.

“East Coast IPAs are like chicken soup. My personal opinion is, they’re not my preferred choice, but people buy them and people drink them, so who’s to say it’s wrong?

“Who’s to say it’s wrong to put starch back into a beer to make it consistently cloudy?

“I teach my students that if you’ve got a starch haze you’re a blithering idiot, and now there’s these people putting it in.

“But if people are buying the product, and that’s the product they want, who’s to say they’re wrong?

“If it’s looking like chicken soup one day and sparkling bright the next, there’s a problem, you’re not getting the product you expect and that’s where there’s a problem,” Bamforth told the brewers.

Yellow fizzy liquid
He said this arena of consistency is where small brewers should be learning from their larger counterparts, rather than decrying them for brewing “yellow fizzy liquid”.

“There are millions of people who like to drink yellow fizzy liquid and it does not make them bad people,” he said.

“It may not suit you and it may not suit me… but to actually criticise or to sell yourself on the basis of rubbishing other people, to me is not a smart way to go.

“With the best will in the world, these larger brewing companies have established a quality proposition in that they produce a quality product over and over and over again,” the Professor said.

The conference continues in Adelaide tomorrow.

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