Jaega Wise, 26, head brewer at Wild Card Brewery.
Photography ©Rob Greig
How did you get into brewing beer?
‘I’ve always been around it. My aunt makes everything: beer, wine, sorrel-flavoured drinks. She’s my inspiration, this little old lady whose house is crammed with jars filled with all sorts of booze. At uni, I did lots of experimenting with beer. There was always some strange concoction bubbling away in the corner!’
So why move into commercial brewing?
‘I studied chemical engineering at uni. It helped me to understand the process of brewing on a large scale. And then I worked in chemical trading in the City. I did that for a couple of years before I jumped ship to help set up Wild Card Brewery. Having had a love of beer for so long, it just made sense.’
What was it like starting from scratch?
‘When we started we had no money. So we brewed our beer at another brewery. That was essential to my development: learning the tricks of the trade from experienced brewers. At first, I used to drive around in a little Zipcar and deliver the beer to clients. Then a government scheme lent us the money to pay for our site in Walthamstow, where we installed our six-barrel kit.’
Do you enjoy your work?
‘My job is brilliant. I hone recipes and I love the different processes. For example, with a very hoppy beer, we add lots of late-aroma hops in the last five minutes, whereas with a porter, we’ll monitor it on a daily basis to check the fermentation. The very first brew we did was definitely a huge moment.’
Er, awkward question: do you drink a lot?
‘Part of my job is to drink several times a day, yes. But in very small quantities! It’s important to train your palate.’
How do you train your palate? Are weird tongue exercises involved?
‘You do it by drinking lots of different beer! And by doing a hell of a lot of research. You end up with a much sharper palate. A good brewer should be able to taste a beer at any point in the process and say: “There’s something wrong here.”‘
One final question: can I please have a job?
‘Ha. We are actually hiring!’
Hours: 45hrs p/w
Starting salary: £25-30,000 p/a
Qualifications: Degree or diploma or work experience in a relevant field
Interview by Michael Curle
Or why not become a baker?