Talking to an Accredited Beer Sommelier– Ben Richards
Ben Richards talks about his preferences on beer over any other drinks, traits of brewmaster and proceedings of the beer trends.
Ben is an accredited Beer Sommelier and a member of the Guild of British Beer Writers, combining a decade of experience in the on-trade and digital communications to offer specialist beer experiences, tastings and talks. He also has an interest in experimental brewing and has written for a variety of publications, spoken at events and appeared on national television to explain his projects and challenges. In a short Q&A session with the team of London Beer Competition, Ben spoke about his preference for beer over other drinks, qualities of a brewmaster and current happenings of the beer industry.
What according to you defines a brewmaster?
It’s somebody with considerable knowledge and experience of the brewing process, a strong understanding of styles and ingredients, and how they work together to create clean, clear and balanced flavours and aromas in their beer.
What do you prefer - Beers or Beer Cocktails and why?
It has to be beer for me - I think there are so many styles and different ingredients used in brewing around the world that the recent confidence of brewers to adapt and experiment mean beer can be very exciting on its own.
Why beer over any other drink (spirits, wine etc.)?
I think different drinks have their time and place, so whilst I opt for beer generally, I do enjoy a wide range of other drinks. Over the past 10 years, there has been a boom in brewers trying new things, so I think the margins of what we would normally consider being beer have grown hugely in terms of flavours, ingredients, ABV etc, and this has meant that the appeal has increased considerably.
What according to you are the trends in beer these days?
The general preference for hoppier beers is probably here for a long time yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw a move toward lower alcohol beers in the near future - drinks that try to keep the bold, hoppy flavours that we’ve seen more recently in IPA’s and pale ales but appealing to wider range of drinkers. There’s a chance we may also continue to see smaller brewers’ experiment with different botanicals and non-traditional ingredients as they add to their range.