Tap Tales: Talfryn Provis-Evans, London Fields Brewery

Becoming head brewer at Hackney-based London Fields earlier this year, Provis-Evans has previously chalked up stints at London brewers Redchurch, Crate and Beavertown as well as Suffolk brewer St Peter’s. Taking the reins at London Fields, which was acquired by Carlsberg UK in a joint venture with New York’s Brooklyn Brewery in 2017, the former home-brewer studied biochemistry at the University of York before completing a Masters in Brewing and Distilling at Heriot-Watt. Here, he tells the drinks business about how his brewing skills have developed, why as a beer he’d be “at best, freaking awesome, at worst, quite s***,” how he believes mental health shouldn’t be swept under the carpet, and the reason why he can’t handle Czech Pilsners.

When did you first get into beer?

It was when I was an undergrad at York that me and my housemate started getting involved in home-brewing. I hadn’t really drunk beer for the taste before, more for the effects, so it was a game changer creating something that actually had character; even if that character was chronic off-flavours! We made some real piss to begin with! Thankfully it got a lot better down the line!

Which brew sparked your love of beer?

I had a Sammy Smiths pub down the road from where I lived at uni. We used to spend an awful lot of time there (in part because a pint cost less than £1.50), but the beer we used to smash was the Sovereign Bitter. So many good memories and such good times associated with that.

What would you be as a beer?

I’d probably be some kind of weird as, funked up, can’t-think-let-alone-move, experimental blend that is at best, freaking awesome, at worst, quite s***. Definitely changes with age.

Who is your inspiration in the beer world?

The cask washers, the assistant brewers, the packaging operatives – the core team of any brewery. Without their persistent passion and energy a brewery simply would not function. It’s a constant reminder that success comes from hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing.

Where are you happiest?

In virtual reality.

What is your greatest vice?

I game…

What are the best and worst things about the beer industry?

I think it’s completely awesome that I get to do something that I truly enjoy and am passionate about as a job. The only thing that tops that, is being in an industry that is full of open minded people with similar feelings about their job, giving us one of the best things about the industry – collaborative enthusiasm for beer. It brings people together, stimulates progress and gives us one hell of a good time!

On the flip side: Mental health often gets swept under the carpet and we as an industry, managers in particular, need to be more attuned to this as an issue. We do preventative maintenance on almost everything in the brewery, so why not with the staff? I feel that a lot of people suffer and don’t reach out because of the stigma surrounding mental health, that it shows they are weak or incompetent, but this is simply not the case. We’ll just be shooting ourselves in the dark until we understand and learn how to properly help those in need.

What is your proudest achievement in beer?

I’d say that my biggest achievements are ahead of me (hopefully!) I guess I’m just proud to be working in such a growing and warm industry. I’ve had the pleasure of working with a great many incredibly awesome people in beer, and for that I’m eternally grateful.

Which beer style do you find it impossible to get along with?

Czech Pilsners. I’m incredibly sensitive to diacetyl, so even at low levels it annihilates my senses!

If you weren’t working in beer, what would you be doing?

I’d most likely be working in a lab struggling to complete a PhD in something biochemistry related!

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