Photos: Wild Card Brewery
Have your weekends consisted of ‘research’ trips to the pub and endless attempts at home brew? Wild Card Brewery’s head brewer, Jaega Wise, is on hand to tell you the tricks of the trade and give you an insight into Walthamstow’s very own microbrewery.
Describe your journey to becoming the head brewer of Wild Card Brewery
My journey began back at Loughborough university where I studied Chemical Engineering. After completing my studies I worked for a year at General Electric before moving into commercial trading, buying and selling chemicals in The City. I have always been around brewing and helped out when Will and Andy, Wild Card’s founders, began to brew their own beer at home. Once they managed to find a recipe that worked, we began renting space in other breweries and paid for it all using a credit card. Soon we realised that our hobby was slowly turning into a business and we applied for funding through the Brightside Trust, which we won. Moving the brewery to Walthamstow has really helped the business grow.
What does an average day in your job look like?
Being the head brewer, I am responsible for making all the beer at the brewery. We brew four times a week, producing 4000 litres of beer which equates to 12000 bottles or 90 casks a week. Because we are a small business, everyone mucks in and helps out with whatever needs doing. One day, I could be making beer and the next I could be ordering ingredients, producing a brewing schedule and dealing with sales enquiries. There is no saying what the next day could bring but that is the beauty of the job.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
My job is really fun, so it is hard to pick just one highlight. There is nothing better than receiving positive feedback on the beer we produce and seeing the business expand. My guilty pleasure has to be playing music really loud when I am at the brewery at 7am, before the rest of my team arrive. It is a really energising part of my day.
Do you have a favourite beer out of all the beers produced at Wild Card?
The ‘Ace of Spades’, our porter is my favourite I think. At 4.7%, it is a complex blend of rich, dark chocolate, caramel and coffee flavours. I am really pleased with it. If I was to pair it with a food, it would go well with a really strong stilton or a rich, heavy meat pie.
What made you decide to set up the brewery in Walthamstow?
We live in Walthamstow and love the vibrant, fun atmosphere that the area has. It also has good transport links across London and further afield which when mixed with the cheaper rents makes it a no brainer. It was a natural progression for us, we wanted to work close to home and we are lucky that Walthamstow has been able to provide this for us.
Are there any aspects of the job which frustrate you?
Because we are a small business, we simply cannot do everything that needs to be done as there are just not enough hours in the day. This can be incredibly frustrating, especially within the production side of the business, it is so restricted by space, money and manpower. Despite this, there is a wonderful team of enthusiastic, positive people who work with me in the brewery and the bar so this outweighs any frustration that there may be.
If you could do anything else for the day, what would it be?
In my spare time, I like to sing and make music so I would have to say that if I couldn’t be a brewer anymore, then I would be a musician. You can find some of my songs, over on my Facebook page. I hopefully will be doing some gigs at the brewery soon, so watch this space!
What advice would you give to someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?
If you are interested in brewing, there are two routes that you can take. Some universities offer degree courses in brewing which will enable you to graduate with a brewing qualification. Another route would be just diving in and experimenting with brewing at home. Wilco have a great home brewing section and you could begin with a starter kit and take it from there. Volunteering at your local brewery, is another option to consider. They will always need people to help with odd jobs and you will be hard pressed to find one which will turn you away.
Tell us something you have never told anyone before
This is a tough question, however I can divulge a commercial secret. From the first week of May, our Queen of Diamonds IPA will be available in keg format. It is a natural progression for us to start producing kegs and I am excited to see how people react to this new offering.
To find out more about the Wild Card Brewery and to pop down for a pint of local beer, visit their website here
Words: Grace Molan