Just 18 months ago, Ricky Abate escaped a career in marketing to follow his passion for beer. He landed a position as brewer at the Padstow Brewing Company, a role he describes as his dream job. As well as turning out a multitude of prize winning tipples, Ricky is a fantastic ambassador for independent Cornish beer. He was kind enough to take time away from ‘babysitting’ his brews to explain more.
How did the Padstow Brewing Company get started?
Our owners, Des and Caron Archer, are a husband and wife team. They’re not Cornish locals but they love Cornwall. Des went along to a brew day and enjoyed it so much he decided this is what he wanted to be doing. They set up in a converted surf shower in Newquay nine years ago – literally a private block on the beach, it was pretty small!
What’s an average day like for you?
Brewing is 80% cleaning! So I’m cleaning something made of stainless steel on a day to day basis. But the best parts of my job are the brew days, which are around eight or nine hours long and really good fun. Then it’s about looking after the beer. I feel like I’m constantly babysitting 2,000 litres of liquid: cooling it down, carbonating it, putting more hops in for additional flavour…
Which are your favourite Padstow beers?
I think Pocket Rocket is my favourite. It’s a 4% beer that’s really easy to drink, and packed full of flavour. But the first ever beer that I produced, Cold Desert, also has a special place. It was a strong and punchy stout and it won an award, which was amazing – it came first in the Southwest region and second nationally.
I’ve also got a new beer coming out that’s named after my daughter called ‘Along Came Florence’. Simon (general manager and brewer) suggested it because he made a beer when his son was born called ‘Freddy Has Landed’. It’s become a theme.
It sounds like people are just as important as the beer.
Yes, we’re very family and friends centred here. There’s a small team of four in the brewery, so it’s very close knit and we all get on really well. I’m the brewer and Simon our General Manager brews as well. Then there’s about 20 people who work in the tasting rooms and they all go out and eat together.
What’s the idea behind your tasting rooms?
We’ve got two and they’re a stone’s throw from each other in the middle of town. The vibe is like visiting a very nice bar with lovely decor but serving craft beer and real ale. One of them is like a locals’ bar; it’s smaller and has an intimate atmosphere. I was in recently and there was a conversation between three tables, we were all talking about Cornwall and recommending nice places to go. The other tasting room is bigger and buzzier, with a more extensive range of food and nibbles. It’s got a city bar vibe, but is still comfortable and nice.
Tell us about the brewery tours.
You’ll have a glass of beer, and we will talk about the process and show you the kit. We talk about flavours and mix in a bit of history as well, because there’s so much history in beer. We try to do a nice blend of all of that so there’s something for everyone. We charge £25 per person for a 90-minute tour and that covers all of the beer and our time.
What makes the Padstow Brewing Company stand out?
We love being in the community of Padstow. For May Day, we donated a barrel of beer to each of the offices. We also support local charities like the National Lobster Hatchery and things like that. We also love the holidaymakers, as they might not know a lot about beer. We do a lot of beers that I think challenge people’s taste buds and I like having that conversation, bringing people in to like new things.