"We’re really proud to employing local people and supporting the Welsh economy, but fundamentally it’s all about the liquid in the glass" Beer and brewing with Glamorgan Brewing Company
The latest in our series of chats with breweries gave us the chance to ask some questions of Richard Anstee, Managing Director of Glamorgan Brewing Company, one of our favourite breweries in the UK.
Hey Glamorgan Brewing peeps, thanks for taking the time to answer some questions for us. Where are you right now?
I’m in our office above the brewery, trying to think over the sound of ringing phones.
So, the obvious question first, what effect has the current environment had on your business?
Initially it was pretty devastating. We run a wholesale business alongside the brewery, delivering all sorts of drinks to pubs and bars around South Wales and have 75+ staff across the company. Pubs stopped ordering from us pretty quickly and we were immediately concerned about the people in our team.
Fortunately, they’re amazing - clever, quick thinking, practical people and we quickly figured out a new plan, selling our beers plus all the stuff we wholesale direct to customers. We’ve managed to keep all of our drivers & brewers working, and are really fortunate to be getting a lot of orders and support from our local community. Covid has hit us hard, but it’s absolutely not going to beat us.
How did you get into working for a brewery?
My father, John Anstee, started the Glamorgan Beer Company, wholesaling beers, wines & spirits to pubs in 1994 so I grew up working around beer. In 2011 we all decided it was time to start making some of our own. We brought a bashed up old second hand kit, called in an old friend who is an amazing brewer to help us develop our first recipes and help train our team… and the rest is history.
What does a day in the life of a brewery roughly look like?
Every day is different, which is amazing and exhausting in equal measure. I’ll usually start the day at the brewery doing quality control with Jamie our head brewer & running through stock levels -- what we’ve got packaged, what’s in tank maturing and any brews we’ve got lined up. In the afternoons I’m usually out visiting customers, making sales and checking that our beer is tasting amazing everywhere it’s being poured.
Tell us about Glamorgan Brewing Company?
We are a family-owned, proudly independent, Welsh brewery making beer inspired by where we’re from.
And tell us your most interesting fact about the brewery.
Hmmm… the fact that we’re family-run makes things pretty interesting at times. Me, my dad John & my brother Rhys all work together on a daily basis, and my best friend David Atkins is our Financial Director. We’re all very familiar with what makes each other tick…
Right, the real question now... why should we buy your beer?
Because it’s delicious. We’re really proud to employing local people, supporting the Welsh economy and are involved in lots of great initiatives that give back to the community, but fundamentally it’s all about the liquid in the glass. I’m proud to say that ours is really, really good. Give it a try...
Good answer. I have tried it and particularly love your Welsh Pale. What’s the best thing the brewer has ever done?
He came up with the recipe for our Welsh Cake Stout, which was voted the best bottled beer in Wales by the Society of Independent brewers last year. To have his hard work recognised by a panel of our peers was pretty special.
Welsh Cake Stout? I need some of that. So I’ve got some pairing questions… your best brew to have with a curry?
Truthfully? I’d be drinking pints of Welsh Lager. Dead Canary, our West Coast IPA, could also more than hold its own against the spice.
Your best beer to have with steak?
Surely it’s got to be a glass of red with steak?! Failing that something nutty & bitter would go well with the caramelized crust on a well-cooked bit of beef - maybe our Cwrw Gorlas?
And on a Saturday night, relaxing in front of the latest Netflix true crime documentary, what’s your best beer to relax with?
Jemima’s Pitchfork is my go-to at-home session. It’s a really well balanced, light golden ale that’s perfect for kicking back on the sofa.
How important to you are your Welsh roots?
Where we’re from means the world to us. We love South Wales -- the stunning landscapes, the warm, hilarious people & the wicked pubs. Also we use Welsh spring water when we brew and it helps our beer taste amazing, so that’s pretty important too.
Are many of the team in the brewery Welsh speakers?
There’s a few, but it only usually comes out when they’ve had a couple of pints...
You’ve got the lot, golden ales, IPA, lager, dark ales, even cider, how difficult is it to keep producing that variety of drinks?
It just comes down to planning really. When we started the brewery we always knew we wanted to brew beer for the people around us. We’ve got a pretty diverse range because we want to keep everyone happy!
What’s the hardest thing about running a brewery?
It’s not something I have to deal with, but the brewers hate the 5am starts on brew days!
How important, in terms of revenue, are your brewery tour and merchandise?
We don’t really do a huge amount of brewery tours just yet. We’re hoping to get something amazing set up once we’ve got a bit more space...
What’s the question we should have asked you today but haven’t?
You could have asked us about some of the other amazing breweries in Wales -- there are some amazing beers being made at the moment.
Finally, what do you drink when you’re not drinking beer?
Big glass of pinot noir please!
Thanks so much for your time. Iechyd da!