Q&A with Dan Hocking
We thought it was about time you met Dan Hocking. Dan is our head brewer at Bundobust Brewery, and he’s been secretly making beers in the centre of Manchester for the best part of a year.
You’ve been in our brewery for 8 months beavering away. What has it been like honing those recipes in a top secret space on Oxford Road?
Dan Hocking: So having to hold off our plans to open the brewery last year was obviously a big disappointment. But the silver lining was that it gave us a chance to play around with recipes, techniques, and speciality ingredients. It’s been really great to have that time, with no deadlines or pressure, to just focus on the beer and how we can make it exactly how we want it. Not a lot of breweries can say they had eight months of practice on the kit before they sold a single beer, so in that respect, I feel really lucky to have had this time to play around.
You were previously head brewer at Dutch brewery, Uiltje. What are you bringing from your experience there to Bundobust?
DH: Mainly the knowledge that chocolate sprinkles is a perfectly reasonable thing to put on a slice of buttered bread. Other than that, Uiltje is well-known in the Netherlands as a pretty experimental brewery, so I spent a lot of time figuring out how best to add unusual ingredients and flavours to a bunch of different beer styles. That should come in handy at Bundobust. There was also a massive focus on fresh beer at Uiltje, definitely something I want to keep focussing on at Bundo.
The brewery kit is pretty state of the art – and it’s within, what will be, an active restaurant. How does that work?
DH: Good question… There’s definitely an element of ‘we’ll have to wait and see’ because it’s an environment that none of us really have any experience of, as it doesn’t really exist elsewhere. The main things I want to focus on are making sure that customers can feel a bit of immersion into the brewery experience without it taking over completely, that everyone is safe and sound, and that the beer tastes good.
What’s the idea behind this first batch of beers for Bundobust?
DH: For the first bunch of beers, I wanted to focus on brewing well-established styles, really well. Partly because these styles are classics for a reason, and partly because I dont want there to be any confusion about whether we’ve built a brewery into a restaurant as a gimmick. We’re here to make some really good beer. Style wise, we have a good mix of punchy, hop-forward beers, some more subtle, delicate lagers, and something a little more left-field.
Would you say the beers are designed with Bundobust food in mind?
DH: Absolutely. In fact, while I was waiting for the brewhouse to arrive in the UK, I spent a lot of time getting into the nitty-gritty of why Bundobust food tastes the way it does and how we can really steer into that. There was even some charts. Chaat Charts. Having our own brewery means we can get really nerdy about the beer and food pairings. I guess the ultimate aim is for the beer to enhance the food, and the food to enhance the beer. There are a couple of pairings that have really taken us, so far. I’m going to keep them to myself though, let everyone figure out their own favourites. Different Strokes and everything.
The beers you make will exclusively be available at Bundobust restaurants – what benefits does this present to you as a brewer?
DH: We’re free to do what we want! So because we have lots of relatively small tanks and we’ll be keeping all the beer within Bundobust, we don’t have to worry too much about whether they’re on-trend or whether we’re going to be able to sell x amount of kegs to distributors, all we have to worry about is whether it’s going to taste good. It also means that we’re always going to have really, really fresh beer on tap all the time, which is great news for fans of the hoppy ones. The other thing I’m most excited about is having that direct link with our customers, we can be reactive and we can take their feedback on board. After all, it’s them that we’re brewing all this beer for.
Without giving the game away, what are you particularly excited about from this first batch of beers?
DH: Nitro. Nitro. Nitro. A classic beer and food pairing with a distinctly Bundo take on it.
BUNDOBUST BREWERY coming soon. Bundobust beers coming sooner…to a Bundobust near you.