CHIEF BEER EDUCATOR REFLECTS: How The Fellowship Of Beer Came AboutFeb 01, 2022
In this post Nick Smith - our Chief Beer Educator - reflects on his journey of leaving high school chemistry teaching behind, and his journey into the world of professional beer as he founded Steam Machine Brewing Company with his wife Gulen, which has grown from strength to strength.
It's been seven and a half years since I formally left the world of education behind, no longer to be in classrooms with all the fun and games that come with it. I made a promise that I would never return...
In those seven and a half years, it probably doesn't surprise you to learn I've been founding, creating, and running a craft brewery with my wonderful wife Gulen. Whilst in those early years there wasn't a lot of teaching going on, there was a lot of learning!
Learning how to run a business, how to plumb, do electrical repairs, cooling systems, heating systems, gas, floor tiling, woodwork, pallet repair, pump maintenance, creating draught beer systems, wrestling with HMRC, invoicing, forecasting, and all of that before working out how to turn recipes for 12.5L of homebrew into 2000L of delicious craft beer!
As Steam Machine grew, so did our team, and with that came the teaching. We have never stopped teaching members of Team Steam about good beer, how it should be poured, why it tasted the way it does, how it can be appreciated, and the thousands of choices that went into creating each and every beer.
We grew and grew again. Demand outstripping supply, and more and more people wanting to enjoy delicious beer from our premises. Two and a half years ago, after expanding into adjacent units twice, we entered our third production facility.
During lockdown last year, the leadership team of Steam Machine (Me, Gulen & Phil) began to ask big questions of the company. Where do we want to be? What are we trying to achieve? Why do we do what we do? Despite all the craziness happening in the world, we came back strong with simple answers.
Steam Machine has always existed to give people fantastic beer, and to push the boundaries of what beer is, and to give people a wonderful experience whilst drinking those beers.
Ever since we first threw our doors open to the public back in 2016, we have tried our hardest to make everyone feel at home, and to explain how our beers are crafted, and why they sit at the absolute premium end of the market.
In Steam Machine 3.0, with a growing staff base, a growing production facility, and a thriving food and drink business to boot, honing in on those aims was never more important. We more than doubled our team coming out of Lockdown, and we had to ensure that everyone bought into the same vision. Which required more education...
At the same time, my cousin Ash, who has worked for Steam Machine in the past, and has always been a supporter of the lifestyle we have created, moved in with us.
He was there when we were asking those big questions of ourselves, and ready to offer his opinion and guidance. Bigger answers than Steam Machine began to be bandied about, and before we each knew what we had gotten ourselves into, The Fellowship Of Beer was born. There isn't room in this tale to fully explain what the Fellowship is about, but one huge aspect is taking those teachings we have at the heart of Steam Machine and spreading the message of good beer to the world.
Under the banner of the Fellowship Of Beer we hosted virtual tastings with mysterious societies, talking them through the brewing processes, and ingredients that made up the beers we had hand selected for their shadowy hands. We gave lectures to the beer world, myth-busting spurious beer origin tales that are repeated as fact, and we combined all the above for a live cohort of international beer lovers, homebrewers, and professionals.
After that, we reflected on everything we had learnt, and went away to design a course for beer enthusiasts to study at their own pace, with pre-recorded content, technical aspects, written notes, tasks, missions and more. The logistics, time, writing, creating, filming, editing, and crying over ALL ABOUT BEER has been insane, but today the milestone has been reached.
The course is now live. Finally.
And whilst I've never been the guy who tries to force sales on their friends, just keep the Fellowship Of Beer in mind if you are casual beer enthusiast, a homebrewer, or a beer professional. Because this is just the start, just the tip of what we have planned, and we can't wait to see who is along for the ride..
As we celebrate the launch of ALL ABOUT BEER I reflect, have I broken my own promise of not returning to the classroom? I don't think so. Like any lovable rogue will tell you, I'm just twisting my words a little bit.
Launching A Beer Course - in Nick's own words here: Head Brewer Discusses Launching A Beer Course - YouTube
Steam Machine Brewing Company: https://steammachinebrew.com/
ALL ABOUT BEER: All About Beer (fellowshipofbeer.org)