Why did you establish Doncaster Brewery?
I had been a mechanic since leaving school and decided to have a complete change of direction – it turns out I didn't really like cars that much. I had been struggling to find a pint of beer that I really loved, so decided to build my own microbrewery, and so Doncaster Brewery was born.
Is building a microbrewery much like putting together a car?
The building of the brewery involved engineering, using a completely different skill set to required to put a car together.
How much, and how many types of beer do you produce?
I currently brew five brewers barrels of beer a week, which works out at approximately 1,500 pints, although the brew plant has a capacity of 10 barrels. I generally have a core range of six beers, from blondes and pales to stouts and porters, with milds and bitters in between.
How do you alter the tastes and strengths of the beer?
The tastes are altered by blending different types of malt and varieties of hops and the strength is created by how much fermentable sugar is in the beer, which is determined by the amount of malt used. Other types of sugars can also be added to alter body and mouth feel.
Is microbrewing a science or an art?
It is a little bit of both really. There is simple chemistry in the nuts and bolts of the process, and art in the creation of the beers.
What made you set up a Tap Room?
It turned out that Alison [Ian’s wife and business partner] and I were rubbish at sales, so we decided to set up our own tap room to sell our beer. We have made it the sort of pub we enjoyed drinking in – no television, jukebox or gaming machines, just a quiet environment where people can enjoy good conversation and great beer.
Do you just serve your own beers there?
The beers sold are all brewed on the premises, and we also serve a range of traditional still ciders and perries, European bottled beers and a selection of fine wine. We also run two beer/cider festivals a year, when we source beers and ciders from other microbreweries and cider producers.
What is the most challenging side of the business?
The main issue is keeping up with production, as we are still doing quite a lot of work to the building, which was semi-derelict when we moved in. The most popular beers have to be brewed on a regular basis but I also like to experiment with new and different beers – it keeps me from getting bored. We’re also in a situation where pubs are approaching us to buy our beer, and since we only really brew to suit our own bar, meeting demand can be difficult.
And the most rewarding?
When the bar is full of people and we hear the gentle susurrus of conversation as customers enjoy our brews – many of our customers have become very good friends.
What are you plans for the future?
To keep doing what we’re doing, as it seems to be working. The focus will always be on creating great beer and having a bar where people feel welcome. If the opportunity arises, we would like to open a second outlet along similar lines.
Doncaster Brewery & Tap
7 Young Street, Doncaster DN1 3EL