Brewing up a storm

FOR the last 11 years, Ken Russell has been applying his knowledge and expertise as a senior trade brewer at South African Breweries (SAB) in Port Elizabeth.
As only one of six trade brewers employed by SAB, his job is somewhat special.
Russell’s association with beer stretches back nearly 24 years, starting at the now-defunct Isando Brewery in the late 1980s. It is his passion to teach people to appreciate beer – its history, how it’s made, and most importantly, how to taste and appreciate it.
His typical day starts off with a bit of admin, and then it’s off to monitor the quality of the product, especially draught beer.
And then it is off to share his passion of beer, the essence and history of beer, and some profile tasting with visitors to the Ibhayi Brewery.
Russell said he was chosen as a Trade Brewer to apply the knowledge and passion he had accumulated over the years.
SAB has six Trade Brewers (a unique position created by SAB) spread around the country and according to Russell the trade brewer is the link between the brewery and the customer (trade) that sells the beer on to the consumer.
“We articulate our knowledge in the trade, look at product quality, standards and practices in the various outlets,” said Russell.
He monitors, trains and audits the quality of the brewery’s products in trade.
Trade Brewers are essentially storytellers whose job is to educate customers, consumers, staff and stakeholders alike about the intracacies of beer, undertaking beer appreciation and brewery tours and encouraging a beer culture. “There is no such thing as a bad beer, there are just different beers.”
Russell says he finds training and educating people about beer is very rewarding.
He added that beer is something that can be enjoyed with a variety of foods and his latest avocation is beer and food pairing.
“I believe that while wine accompanies food, beer complements it.”

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