Kemp, affectionately referred to as JK, will take up a newly formed position as lead brewer at Yeastie Boys, where he will be in charge of quality control, quality assurance, product development and strategy.
Joe Ince, Marble’s current head of production and formerly of Magic Rock Brewery and Buxton Brewery, will take over as head brewer for the Manchester brewery after Kemp’s departure.
Kemp joined Marble in January 2016, having previously worked at Fuller’s Brewery, Thornbridge Brewery and Buxton Brewery. At Marble, he is credited for implementing a barrel-ageing programme and reviving the brewery’s ‘Heavy Metal’ series. He was also in charge of organising and producing the brewery’s 20th birthday collaboration series.
Marble looks forward
Speaking about the decision to leave Marble, Kemp said: “The past two years at Marble have been fantastic, and I will always be grateful for the opportunity to work on some amazing projects, from our Fuller’s Gale’s Prize Old Ale collaboration in 2016, to the 20th birthday collaboration series.
“I look forward to the challenges and opportunities afforded to me in this new role with Yeastie Boys as it continues its global adventures; which will, in turn, allow me to spend more time with my family.”
On the loss of Kemp, Marble director Jan Rogers told The Morning Advertiser: "While it’s obviously sad to lose JK, we are incredibly happy for him and our friends at Yeastie Boys. We are also very pleased that JK has found a way to better balance his work/home life.
"We will continue with the exciting changes at Marble already planned for 2018: we’re looking at new sites for the brewery, and Joe is working on new kit purchase. We’re also reshaping our pub estate to fit in with our plans, and we're very happy to continue to consolidate the friendships we made during our 20th collaboration year, for example, visiting Cigar City Brewing in March."
Yeastie Boys was founded in 2008 in Wellington, New Zealand, by Stu McKinlay and Sam Possenniskie. The brewery is currently contract brewing its beers in the UK at West Berkshire Brewery, having previously utilised BrewDog’s facilities in Aberdeenshire.
The brewery is now seeking to make the UK its major focus for the future, with Possenniskie relocating to the country from his native New Zealand later this year.
Increased UK focus
“We’ve got off to a cracking start in the UK, from absolutely nothing, but we’re always thinking of the future and this was the perfect place to bring someone on board,” said McKinlay. “Bringing James into the team is an investment in our brand as well as the product.
“We’ve long been known for innovation but, in the UK, we’ve focused on our core range products, only bringing in very small volumes of seasonals and specials from New Zealand.”
McKinlay continued: “As our reach expands nationally and into Europe, and often outside the traditional ‘craft beer’ venues, it’s important to us that we continue to excite and delight the independent trade. That needs to happen from here in the UK rather than back in New Zealand.
“I can’t think of anyone better to do that than James Kemp. I’ve known him for over a decade and his dedication to innovation and quality make him one of the very best brewers that I know.”
On his appointment at Yeastie Boys, Kemp added: “I’ve been a fanboy of Yeastie Boys since I first tried Pot Kettle Black almost 10 years ago. I’ve always considered it to be one of the most exciting and edgy breweries in the world.
“I’m really looking forward to having a lot of fun making great beer and helping take them to the next level.”