Jamaica's First Craft Brewery
Let's Lift Your Spirits!Thursday, August 05, 2021
Tomorrow, August 6, marks Jamaica's 59th year of Independence. It is, too, International Beer Day. A brilliant happenstance, as I cannot imagine a better story to share with you today than that of Cedric Blair, the former managing director at Red Stripe who is soon to launch Jamaica's first craft brewery: the Clubhouse brewery. His over-two-decade-plus history in the brewing industry has certainly put him in good stead.
“My learning curve has been 100% vertical, seven days a week. I am stock counter and chief operations and I'm having a blast!” he said.
It's no idle boast. He has been lauded for:
• Establishing the cogeneration plant at the Red Stripe brewery on Spanish Town Road, to lower energy costs, its carbon footprint and environmental impact.
• Developing and launching Red Stripe Sorrel and Lemon Paradise. Today, Sorrel is a key growth driver for Red Stripe.
• The key driver of adding cassava to the brewing process through investing in capacity building to add value and increase the livelihood and income of small farmers.
• Joint ventures like the establishment of Celebration Brands Limited (CBL), a joint sales project and distribution company formed by Red Stripe (a Diageo company), and Pepsi-Cola Jamaica
“I would've done it for free had my wife allowed it,” Blair says with a chuckle. His latest project started in 2019 with researching craft beer. There was travel to different places, like China, in search of brewing equipment, and enrolment at University of California, to study brewing. In between there were pitches to family, mentors, and friends to raise capital for the brewery.
Looking ahead to this new chapter Blair says that if he can inspire one person to think that maybe they can do it too his legacy will be complete. “I like the idea of pioneering things and taking risks! When people tell me I'm crazy, I know I'm on to something good... I double down.”
Constant Spring Golf Club is home to the brewery. Worth mentioning is the fact that Clubhouse brewery beers are unpasteurised allowing for the retention of more organoleptic properties.
Post-tour it was time to taste.
... was the Chocolate Porter. This hit different (think: sweet and fruity) and has an incredible flavour sensation! I get obvious notes of milk chocolate, with a subtle hint of coffee on the end! It's creamy while remaining refreshing, light and lively. Porters were the first style of dark beers developed in London in the early 18th century. They are typically a dark brown ale brewed with chocolate malts, brown malts, or specialty malts.
The Fairway Finder IPA. I love an IPA (India Pale Ale) and this one doesn't disappoint. It is perfect for any summer day and is a tropical delight! Tropical fruit is the first thing that hits me, and I like it!
Blair's plan is to produce a range of different styles of beers and though the brewery is not yet officially opened, beer on tap is available and has found favour with golfers. In fact, purchase of the beers is available in 32 or 64 oz growlers which can be returned, recycled, and refilled.
In Part 2 we share more about the planned opening, and the Annual Craft Brewers Conference in Denver, Colorado, America's largest craft brewing industry gathering. Blair has already set his sights on having Clubhouse Brewery on the panel in 2022!
Let's lift your spirits! Find and follow me on Instagram @raihndrops
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