Belinda Jennings has been the Head Brewer at Redwell since 2017 and is the brain behind so many of their delicious, award-winning craft beers. Read to on to discover her journey into the beer industry, what drew her to Redwell and why the brewery’s place in the community is so important to her…
From biology to beer
Belinda’s path to beer took a detour via biology, gaining a degree in the science from Lancaster University. With no idea what she actually wanted to do, she found herself working as a Lab Technician in a dairy upon graduation.
Three months later, however, Belinda’s mum spotted a similar role in brewing, saying “you would be dealing with testing beer instead of milk!”
Igniting a passion for the beer industry, Belinda gained her degree in brewing and progressed to a Quality Leader role and trainer. Following on from this, Belinda joined Adnams as Quality Manager where she also gained her Masters in brewing.
When the opportunity arose to become head brewer, though, Belinda jumped at the chance, joining Woodforde’s where she would stay for two years before making the move to Redwell, whom she describes as “far more my bag, modern, fun, vibrant, community led, etcetera…”
On joining Redwell
Having previously plied her trade at Greene King, Adnams and Woodforde’s, Belinda joined Redwell in late 2017 to be part of reviving the brand. She says: “Since they started about 7 years ago, I have always loved the brand and the beer, followed it from the start and proud to now be involved right in the thick of it.
“Plus, I like a challenge, it’s an amazing challenge to help build a company back up again, both with sales, but also reputation. They were very ahead of the game, especially in this area, the big guys, Brewdog had already started and there was no-one else locally doing what Redwell were.
“I had admired Redwell for a number of years and then to get the chance was great. Also, it is local; I live in Norwich, I can bike or run into work to check gravity etcetera. It is a small brewery and with that more intimate feeling.
“I don’t have to drive an hour to say Adnams, and because it is smaller and you are very much involved, you care about it more, it is like your baby. And, we are very much part of the community.”
Vegan friendly and gluten free
Redwell is one of the first UK breweries to make their entire range (yes, every beer) certified vegan and audited gluten free. That’s a pretty big deal, meaning everyone can enjoy the great beer they’re brewing.
For Belinda, it was simple. She says: “We started out this way, so haven’t really known any difference. For example, we don’t use isinglass, which produces a very bright pint. In the craft industry there isn’t the requirements for the bright beer like cask beer; it’s accepted that a slight haze actually adds flavour!
“The hardest part is the paperwork and audits. The Coeliac Society audit us for gluten free, which is tough, checking all our quality management systems and processes, housekeeping records, training, supplier management etcetera, etcetera.”
On community at Redwell
One of the core values at Redwell is community; from running and holding events, hosting locals in their taproom and a passion for the wellbeing of their staff, Redwell is all about community.
“[Community’s] our main value,” says Belinda. “Due to our location, and our directors and staff beliefs, it is what we are driven by.
“I love to mingle with the local community when our taproom opens, and attend the events. A company is never solely about one thing, it needs more than just production of the product. It needs identity and belonging.
“We also have this amazing space to share with people; it’s very rare to have this so close to the city. I know a lot of London Brewers with very small taprooms are dead jealous.
“We get a lot of local villagers come down and we enjoy that. They come with their families and dogs. People love this space and people are prepared to walk a bit more to get something different, and they love the taproom. I spend a lot of time here and it is fun.”