Jon is Brick Lane’s head brewer and first employee. Jon oversees all brewing and packaging operations and played a key role from Brick Lane’s inception in equipment procurement and commissioning, process and product design, formulation for Brick Lane and partner brands, beer quality and recruitment and leadership of the operations team.
He has a track record of developing and brewing global award-winning brands, recognised in international competitions, including the 2019 World’s Best Pale Bitter (2019 World Beer Awards, London), Supreme Champion and Champion Oceania (London International Beer Challenge) and numerous Australian International Beer Awards, IBA and CBIA medals. His technical training is from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling UK. Jon serves on the Quality Committee for the Independent Brewers Association, is the founder and chair of the Interlaboratory Proficiency Testing Scheme BIRA and sits on the drinks committee for Food and Drinks Victoria.
We caught up with Jon to talk about some of his favourites, what’s coming up, and craft beer trends in general.
What was your favourite Brick Lane beer in 2020?
Favourites for me was a dead-heat between Avalanche and Draught – two very different beers which I love equally!
What beers do you have at home in your fridge at the moment?
Current fridge filler is Brick Lane Backyarder (an everyday 3.5% midstrength), rapidly disappearing last cans of Molly Rose’s ‘When Life Gives you Lemons’, my very last bottle of Alameda from Future Mountain, and my old friend Orval.
What can we expect from Brick Lane in 2021?
2021 will be a huge year for Brick Lane – we’ll be releasing more seasonal releases than we have ever in the past, kicking off our barrel ageing project, and growing our capacity substantially with the installation of a second new brewhouse and large fermentation cellar expansion. We’re concurrently running some projects to reduce our environmental impact – we’re currently wrapping up a project changing over all our refrigeration to natural refrigerants, with zero greenhouse gas contribution and ozone depletion potential.
Are there any craft beer trends in general you think may pop up this year?
Hops are here to say! We see a continued trend of highly hopped IPAs focussed on tropical and fruit-forward hops, but also see a general increase in levels of bitterness, with a move away from straight breakfast-juice to a more balanced and ultimately satisfying class of hoppy beers.
Outside hops, it’s great to see more interested in the wonderful world of flavour possible from yeast (the often forgotten hero of beer) and increasing consumer awareness that yeast can contribute just as much complexity and amazing flavours as hops. This is particularly apparent in the increasing releases of Belgian style seasonals.
Finally, it’s fantastic to see more great quality craft lagers being produced – these were often deemed to technically difficult, or too time consuming for many craft brewers, so we’re so excited to see more brewers are up for the challenge and producing cracking quality crisp, well-made and interesting lagers for this summer (and hopefully beyond!).