Nottingham’s Jaega Wise went from Chemical Engineering to setting up London’s Wildcard Brewery with her friends in Walthamstow, all for the love of beer.
From home brewing to becoming the Head Brewer of a 6 barrel brewery, we talk with Jaega on the rise of craft beer, the first steps into the idea of becoming a tastemaker and what drinks are recommended for a London Summer in 2016.
What or who first introduced you to craft beer?
I consider myself lucky to have grown up in Nottingham, an amazing place with tradition of great breweries and pubs. There were fantastic beer festivals locally in Leicester, Loughborough and Peterborough with a staggering variety of breweries on show. It’s where it all began for me.
How did you come into commercial brewing at Wild Card?
During the recession, a couple of friends of mine we’re trying to start a brewery when I jumped on board. We went from being home brewers, to using other breweries equipment as cuckoo brewers, to getting our own 6 barrel brewery in Walthamstow. I come from a Chemical Engineering background, and I love beer, so brewing is perfect for me.
With home brewing on the rise, what was your first steps?
I would say the best thing to do if you’ve never brewed before but you want to give it a go is to start with a home brewers kit as it builds confidence. It’s what I did. When you feel ready, then move on to all grain. The main issues that tend to crop up when home brewing are usually hygiene related.
Are there any new brewers out there that you’ve seen who are pushing the boundaries and how?
There are too many, especially here in London. It’s a very exciting time to be brewing in the capital. I’verecently got my hands on 100 litre pilot kit, which we’re making our weird and wonderful brews in. I’ve just finished a Coffee Stout, made with a wonderful local coffee roastery Perky Blenders.
For anyone who is looking to get into brewing – where should they start?
Home brewing is definitely the place to start as it helps you learn the basic principles. You can also try volunteering at your local brewery. There are many great courses out there depending on how deep you want to go, from introductory day courses all the way through to pHD’s.
What’s a little known beer that’s made a big impact for you?
One of the most amazing beers for me, has to be Harvest Pale, by Nottingham based Castle Rock Brewery. I’ve got some great memories in various pubs around Midlands, quaffing this wonderful beer.
With so many new brands, is it hard for consumers to discover the right ones?
I don’t think there is such a thing as the ‘right’ beer. If you like it, then its right for you. I’m also a big believer of trying as many different beers as possible. You won’t know you like it until you’ve tried it!
With Camden Hells recently purchased by a major corporate brand whats your views on going from start up to sell out?
Every business is different, what doesn’t work for some may work for others.
Apart from being a brewing talent, you are a musician, what are you listening to right now? I
really love going to gigs, and listening to live music. I recently went to see a band called Majik in Hoxton who I’m loving right now. I found them on the Spotify discover section, and I’m hooked on their new single ‘Closer.’
What makes being a brewer rewarding compared to a typical 9-5 in the city?
I arrive at work at 7am and one of the first things I do is to pick a playlist for my brew. We often have live music at the brewery, so we have some really good speakers. I crank up the volume and sing very loudly as I mash in. You can’t do that in many jobs!
Would you recommend any other London independent brands who are starting out?
There’s a soap manufacturer based in Walthamstow called Soapsmith. They make the most luxurious bath and beauty products. They’re based next door to our storage unit, and produce the most wonderful aromas. We’ve just made a range of beer soaps with them which I’m really excited about. I spend so much time working with different hop aromas, being in their factory is a sensory overload, in a really good way.
Where’s your local and what you do love about it?
One of my favourite pubs in Walthamstow is a pub called Chequers. Its really close to my house, has great beer and the staff are friendly. I’m not just saying it because I work there, but the Wild Card Brewery Taproom is one of the best places in Walthamstow to catch the sun. Plus the beers good too…
What can we expect from wild card in 2016? And for those who want to know more about what you do, where should they look?
I’m currently working on our new small batch series. Which is a bottled range of beers made on our pilot kit. The first is an American Pale Ale, the second a 9.2% Double IPA and the third a coffee stout, which will be available from the Taproom. I’ve also just got my mitts on two new conical fermenters, so I’m going to be bringing them online over the next weeks. It means I can make more beer!! For the most update information, check our our website www.wildcardbrewery.co.uk
Finally – we would love you to recommend beers our female audience would enjoy and the kind of environments you would be drinking them in.
Queen of Diamonds 5% IPA: Wild Card Brewery – This is the perfect beer for a Summer BBQ. This moreish IPA, served cold, stands strong against spicy chicken wings & the hop intensity cuts through the richness of a juicy beef burger.
Wu Gang Chops the Tree 3.8%: Pressure Drop – This fresh, citrus edged wheat beer, made with foraged herbs is a wonderful beer for late summer. I’ve enjoyed it best when sat outside, in strong sunshine with friends.
Salty Kiss 4.1%: Magic Rock Brewing Co – This is a goosebury gose. This tart, slightly sour & gently salted wheat beer is simply lovely. Its very well balanced and goes excellently with white fish.
Gosnells Mead 5.5% – If you have a sweeter tooth I would highly recommend this mead. Made with Citrus Blossom Honey & Water, its floral, refreshing and delicious. Its unusually low ABV for its style means it highly quaffable. Best enjoyed from a large sharing bottle with friends over dinner.
Photos: Elliott Morgan