I am of the legal
Will Inman, a man who thought he might be destined to work in banks, is the Production Manager for Kirkstall Brewery. His introduction to the world of beer started over in America, where he had his first taste of West Coast IPAs working in a bar in upstate New York. Upon his return to the British Isles he dabbled in home brewing, creating spreadsheets and formulas to constantly improve the beers he was producing. It was this, and the financial crisis, that made Will decide to move away from a career in banking and to look for work at a brewery.
Will did work experience at Kelham Island Brewery before securing a job at Thornbridge. He quickly made his way up the ranks, from cask washer, to running the bottling line, to brewing on the automated plant within 5 months. Realising that this was the career path he wanted to journey on, Will tackled the steep learning curve, applying himself to learn as much as he could in the four and a half years that he was at Thornbridge.
Wanting to further his career Will came to work at Kirkstall and is one of the brains behind our signature recipes, bringing his love of the technical side of brewing to the team. We sat down with Will to reflect on his time at Kirkstall Brewery and to get to know him a little.
What do you think is unique about Kirkstall Brewery?
Will: “The brew house that we have is very efficient; we’re able to use modern techniques on our more traditional core range of cask. We have the capabilities to make a whole range of beer, so we don’t need to pigeon hole ourselves into one style of brewing. We don’t have to stick to traditional brewing that we were known for, but we also don’t have to abandon that either.
Our team of brewers all have different capabilities – a chemistry graduate, a variety of different brewing experiences and rugby players, who are good at the heavy lifting stuff. Together we can meet the standards set for the quality of beer that we produce.”
What has been your personal highlight since working at Kirkstall Brewery?
Will: “Probably developing the team that we have. We’ve been lucky enough to work with some brilliant members of staff. It’s been great to train up new team members and to see their personal development, which is being reflected in the quality of beer they produce. Making sure that they are happy and get to grips with the brew house, as well as giving them opportunities to learn as much as possible.”
Will: “There are many – most revolve around Alex’s infamous dad jokes.”
What is your favourite Kirkstall brew?
Will: “Virtuous would be my favourite. Brewing it every week meant that we were able to perfect this recipe. It’s a great go to beer, with a complex malt bill and great hop character. Adding in the Mosaic to the dry hop gave it another dimension, with the blueberry and tropical fruit flavours being elevated.
I also really enjoyed creating the Pilsner; I liked the technical challenge of brewing this to be a Pilsner like no other.”
Is working in a brewery different to how you first thought it would be?
Will: “It’s lived up to the expectations that I had. I went into my first brewery job with an open mind. I didn’t expect to be sitting around sampling beer all day, looking at them longingly. Usually the moment you do get to sample the beer is first thing in the morning, just before packaging. And toothpaste and beer do not go well together.
Starting with home brewing helped me to prepare for the amount of cleaning that this job entails; you really have to be fastidious with cleaning regime, and there’s a lot of it!”
If you could brew anything, what would it be?
Will: “Probably a Belgian style beer. It’s the delicacies and intricacies of the brewing that interest me. I like to tackle a range of different styles; you’ve got the New England IPAs that are fresh and hoppy, with amazing flavours coming from them, to the other end of the spectrum, where you have these delicate and subtle beers where everything must balance with each other. It’s the challenge of getting it right.”
Out of the collaborations that Kirkstall has done throughout 2018, which has been your favourite?
Will: “Don’t make me pick! I’ve really enjoyed them all!
Two that stand out in my mind would be the Yeastie Boys collab, Ryeteous, which was great because we got to work with JK, who also used to work at Thornbridge. He has a very similar approach to brewing, being technically minded. But I also really enjoyed brewing Verdita, with Magic Rock. The creativity of the recipe for this brew pushed me out of my comfort zone, but for the better. The amount of fruit and chillies that were added to the tank were more ingredients then I had ever put in a beer. But that’s the brilliant thing about collaborating – I learn something from each collaboration that we do, whether it be part of the process or the ingredients and quantities that are used.”
QUICK FIRE QUESTIONS
First ever beer?
Probably a can of Fosters when I was about 14. From my brother – bad influence.
First craft beer?
I remember when I went to work in the States, the first beer I had there was Lagunitas Pilsner. But one of the first UK craft beers was Jaipur. Which I then went on to brew probably a million litres of!
If you weren’t doing this job, what would you be doing?
Probably the banking, but I don’t think I would’ve been happy doing that. I like to be physically active, so probably a job outdoors, like perhaps working for the National Trust. Or maybe being a personally trainer.
Already doing it.
Least favourite part of the job?
Greasing things – it goes everywhere.
Will’s top five songs that are best echoing around the brewery at 5am