Meet our Brewer

In October last year we welcomed Brian Dickson to the brotherhood in the capacity of Head Brewer. Many will know Bri from his role at The Grove in Huddersfield and his time as the man behind their in-house cuckoo brewing operation; Bitches Brewing.

Whilst brewing for Bitches, Bri brewed at Brodies, Quantum and Blackjack amongst others. He’s also traversed the country helping out at the likes of Redwillow, Thwaites and Darkstar. We thought we’d ask him to take some time out from shining his Puroforts whilst we wait for work to finish on site to answer a few questions…

Here’s what he had to say:

So when did you first fall in love with beer and what beer was it?
I went to school/college in Knaresborough so the first beers that tore me away from whatever lager was on the bar were Roosters. YPA & Yankee were staples on the bar in Blind Jacks, were we’d head after a few student-friendly, cheap and cheerful pints of Sam Smith Old Brewery Bitter across the road. A couple of years later and Anchor Liberty Ale opened up the world of US craft beer to me and my life’s been one big beery crusade ever since.

If there’s one country that most inspires you when it comes to beer,
which one would it be and why?
The UK of course. Pretty much all beer styles originated here. Every country has at some time looked to our brewers for inspiration and now I believe our new wave of brewers are producing beers as high quality & progressive as any where else in the world.

What are your top 5 beers ever?
I hate this question so much!! Right… ok, 5 consistently awesome beers;

Jever Pilsner
De Molen Hel & Verdoemenis
Odell IPA
Goose Island IPA
Hawkshead Windermere Pale

What is it you’re most looking forward to about being a full time brewer?
The early starts? Maybe not. The aroma from the mash tun wafting up my nostrils most mornings, and a glass of first runnings for breakfast. Plus, of course, the pride that comes with producing a beer you are pleased with and which people enjoy drinking.

You’ve made some fairly left-field beers in your time. Have you got any particularly interesting recipes you’re keen to see realised?
I’ve had an urge to do something with Sloe berries recently, while friends keep nagging me to brew a Kiwi Gose. I can’t wait to my hands on a stash of interesting whisky and wine barrels too. But right now, I’m most interested in nailing our core range!

What is it about Northern Monk that you felt an affinity with?
From the first time I spoke on the phone, it felt like the right job for me. We were on the same page with regards beers & the direction we’d like to take the business. I’d been a huge fan of the whole brand from the beginning anyway, it’s such a strong image. As a brewer hungry for knowledge and with so much still to learn, it’s going to be an incredibly exciting few years for me growing with the brewery.

The UK beer industry has been booming over the course of the past few years. How do you see the next few years panning out?
I’m expecting to see a ‘cream to the top’ scenario. Breweries are opening & expanding at a crazy rate, which is great but probably not sustainable long term. Hopefully the talented, progressive brewers continue to see success (and hopefully we’ll be amongst them!) as some breweries, will I’m sure have a more difficult time.

What’s your favourite beer style and why?
Mild…? ok, IPA. Unless it’s the height of mid-summer in which case stick me in the garden with a crisp Pilsner!

What’s your favourite hop and why?
Changes by the week! Centennial is great both on its own or filling out gaps alongside other hops. I adore Saaz too, it’s more versatile than many give it credit for, I believe.

Who’s your biggest brewing inspiration and why?
Too many to mention, really. I’ve brewed with so many great brewers and learnt something from every one of them. But my first full-time brewing education was with Eddie Gadd who drilled so much good practice into my disorganised self, got me totally hooked on brewing and tried to convince me East Kent Goldings are the only hop a brewer could ever need… Cheers Eddie!

You’ve done a fair few collaborations in your time If you could choose one brewery in the world to brew a collaborative beer with, who
would it be and why?
Dogfish Head. They’ve successfully brewed some of the most most interesting beers I’ve tried, producing some great flavours from pretty unusual ingredients, and I’d love to have a beer I’d brewed conditioning in one of their gigantic Palo Santo wood tanks.

You’ve got a fairly musical background. What’s your favourite music to brew to?
It’s become something of a tradition for my mate and I, when homebrewing, to mash in to Propellerheads. Bang On!