Jobs: From barman to head brewer at Norwich’s Chalk Hill Brewery

Robbie Wincup, new head brewer at Chalk Hill Brewery. Picture: Submitted

Robbie Wincup, new head brewer at Chalk Hill Brewery. Picture: Submitted - Credit: Archant

To celebrate National Beer Day on Wednesday we went to visit Robbie Wincup, head brewer at the Chalk Hill Brewery on Thorpe Road in Norwich.

Robbie's Mustard IPA on the pump.

Robbie's Mustard IPA on the pump. - Credit: Archant

Hiding behind the popular Coach and Horses Pub is an award-winning brewery which supplies beer to pubs across the city.

Established in 1993, the brewery has won numerous awards for its ale, with the CBH beer being the most popular choice amongst drinkers.

The brewhouse churns out six very different types of beer with most of it ending up in customers glasses just metres away in the Coach and Horses.

Since last year, it has been under the watchful eye of Robbie Wincup who used to earn his trade working behind the bar at the Thorpe Road pub.

Chalk Hill Brewery

Chalk Hill Brewery - Credit: Archant


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He now keeps the barrels stocked by sometimes brewing two different types of beer a day whilst also being the delivery driver and trying to sign up new suppliers.

This summer has seen the 28-year-old brew his first beer with his own recipe. Called 'Mustard' it took weeks in the making and is now going to be a regular on the menu at the pub.

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'A lot of maths went it to it to be honest,' said Robbie. 'We had recipe for a beer the old brewer made called 'Nectar' so I used some of the ingredients from that to get the colour as obviously I wanted it to be a light one with summer with some citrus flavours.'

Robbie decided to use a hop from New Zealand with a lemon pine needle flavour and an English one with a hint of honey and spicy to give it more of a kick so it lived up to its name.

Some of the Chalk Hill Brewery's beers on offer at The Coach and Horses pub.

Some of the Chalk Hill Brewery's beers on offer at The Coach and Horses pub. - Credit: Archant

'After I picked my hops it was just working out when to put it in during the process to know what flavour to get out of them' he said. 'The later you put your hops on you get more of a flavour and an aroma and although I done all the maths behind it you don't know what it is like until you try it.'

The head brewer had his first experience in brewing three years ago when he started making home brew.

Without much access to equipment, he relied on one tap and numerous saucepans to transport all the water involved between the various containers. He got a job behind the bar at The Coach and Horses and soon started learning more of the trade from 'master brewer' Dave Winter before taking on his role last year.

With no training Robbie, relies on online forums and YouTube videos to learn some of the equations involved and it is proving to be a recipe for success.

'I am completely self taught and the main difference from brewing at home is the equipment, that is what I struggled to get my head around originally as I didn't use the bunch of different pipes at home,' he said. 'If I needed to move something from one place to another I had a tap to pour it, whereas here you have pipes going into different pumps so you need to know which ones go where.'

Robbie plans to stay at the brewery long term and wants to develop a winter beer for CAMRA's National Winter Ale Festival next year.

'I would feel comfortable going to a school reunion and if people asked me what I did I could say I am a brewer now,' he said. 'I love it and I can't imagine doing anything else, this is definitely it for me.'

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