As reported by The Morning Advertiser in May, Cornish brewer Sharp’s – which was purchased by Molson Coors in February 2011 - announced that Aaron McClure been promoted from his previous role as technical brewer to lead its brewing operation.
McClure, who has worked at Sharp’s brewery for eight years, explained that product development and getting the Cornwall-based team back up to its full quota have been priorities since he took the reins.
“We've just released a coconut stout which is probably the first one to be released since I've been head brewer,” he told The Morning Advertiser. “We've also been recruiting for my replacement - we've been a man down and technical brewer is a key role within in the brewery.
“We've recruited a chap called David Barr who was the technical brewer at St Austell brewery. I'm really excited to have him on board."
What’s more, McClure’s four months in charge have been punctuated by “really exciting collaborations” firstly with Paul Ainsworth – the celebrity chef behind Sharp’s owned Rock pub The Marniners.
Using Sharp’s pilot brewery, McClure and his team devised a recipe to pair with one of Ainsworth’s pub dishes.
“It was a really unusual beer, a steam beer, which is like a lager and ale hybrid, which Paul wanted to pair with one of his bar snacks called Hunters Snags - a mustard and marmalade glazed sausage,” McClure said.
“We wanted to emulate those flavours in the beer so we used orange peel and put in a very subtle amount of mustard to give it a tiny little kick. It was quite a challenge, we did a lot of lab work. It worked out really nicely and was a great experience.”
What’s more, McClure and his team embarked on a joint launch with Apollo 50 – an event at the Goonhilly Earth Station on the Lizard in Cornwall to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing – in July.
"The thing I've liked about both collaborations is that they're outside the brewing industry,” McClure added. “it's expanding your reach and footprint.
“We're friendly with lots of brewers in the industry and have some really good chats with them, but actually it's nicer to go even further afield and spread the knowledge.
“There were lots of comparisons from both of those collaborations with what we do and what they do. With Paul, for example, there was a huge amount of discussion on flavour as you would imagine, he was extremely passionate and knowledgeable about ingredients and the food side of things which transfers very easily over into our recipe development and it was really fascinating. It was nice picking up on those sorts of points."
Doom Bar extra-chilled trial ongoing
As reported by The Morning Advertiser in October 2018, the Molson Coors owned brewer announced that it was trialling an extra-chilled variant of the UK’s best selling cask ale, Doom Bar – which topped the category’s figures in The Morning Advertiser's 2019 Drinks List.
The move came in response to research suggesting that 70% of consumers wanted cask ale served cooler than the recommended cellar temperature.
"The Doom Bar extra chilled trial is still ongoing,” McClure explained. “This is a way of us trying to mix it up in the cask category and offer something different to drinkers. “The feedback we've had is that people are put off by cask because it's too warm and flat - if that's what they're saying then why don't we try and make it a bit colder for them?
“We've also heard that the quality can be varied and what we've found is that the three-day rule for cask - it needs to be used within three days then taken off - is paramount. We're finding across the industry that outlets aren't always adhering to that.
“What Doom Bar chilled does is that you've got your normal hand pull at standard 12 degree temperature as well as chilled at roughly 8 degrees. They both pull from the same cask which helps to turn that cask over quickly, preserve the quality of the beer and helps adhere to the three-day rule as well.
“There's been a lot of thinking behind it. I personally have had pints down the pub and made many comparisons - certainly on a hot summer's day, personally I like it - but we're still collating the data from the trial."