My brewing Journey – Glen Upward
Glen Upward, owner of Devitera details his journey from back room hobbyist, to full-time microbrewer:
I had been working in IT before I started my own microbrewery. It was only in 2016, when I was made redundant, that I saw a chance to do something different.
My interest in beer went no further than my own home brew but, towards the end of 2016 I started to retrain as a brewer. I learnt the basics by watching YouTube videos and reading up on the subject. I also went on a brewery management course and visited established breweries – so I was ready to operate on a commercial scale.
I identified premises and equipment and found a qualified brewer but, just as things started to take shape, it all went wrong in 2017. A trademarking issue meant I had to change my brand name (leading me create my own made-up Latin word, Devitera). At the same time, my premises fell through and my business partner got cold feet and walked out.
Still, I didn’t give up. I found new premises, bought old dairy equipment for brewing. You’re either heating or chilling large amounts of liquid at various points so it’s not uncommon to see dairy vats being repurposed. I also sourced discarded wood from my nearest IKEA to use as makeshift worksurfaces for bottling and labelling.
Then I had to work out how to upscale production. At a commercial level the rules of brewing are totally different. One of the biggest challenges I had was getting the beer from the fermenter into bottles.
I didn’t have a winch or a forklift truck, so I had to use gravity to elevate the beer high enough so it could fall down into the bottling machine. Placing a cask on top of stacked pallets allowed me to pump the beer out of the fermenter into the cask – which has a small amount of sugar to carbonate it– and then flow down into the bottle filler and bottling machine.
We run our entire production through this system and our record is 1,500 bottles in a day.
Running a microbrewery is much harder than I first thought but I now have a range of beers and plenty of local stockists.
Anybody starting up (in food or drink) should visit and talk to any fellow producers that will have you. There will always be highs and lows but you just have to keep learning from them and evolving.
You can follow Glen’s brewing journey on his blog at devitera.co.uk
This story appeared in the March issue of Fine Food Digest. You can read more on the digital edition here.