no. 018 | Burnt Mill
batch no. 018’s Burnt Mill is a unique brewery for a number of reasons – not least because their Head Brewer cannot drink the beer she brews.
Founded in 2017, it didn’t take long before Burnt Mill started to gain considerable recognition in the beer industry. Indeed, before their second birthday they had already been awarded the accolade of Best New Brewer in England by the RateBeer Awards. Ask founder Charles O’Reily how this came to pass, and he’ll undoubtedly tell you it’s ultimately down to the quality of the team that work so hard to create Burnt Mill’s beers, and their Head Brewer, Sophie de Ronde, in particular.
De Ronde has over 14 years of industry experience, having started her journey almost accidentally on finishing university. From managing a cellar pub, she then moved to a local microbrewery (Brentwood Brewing Company) and then onto malt supplier Muntons, stepping into a newly formed role at the company’s pilot brewery. Carrying out trial recipes and brews for different customers, and troubleshooting for them when required, Sophie effectively had to create the role from the ground up, learning a lot about creating a brewery and the fundamental brewing ingredient along the way.
It was also whilst here that she found out something that no brewer wants to hear: she was intolerant to barley and wheat. Whilst not career-ending, it was a significant hurdle to overcome.
At the same time, Charles had been spending his time drinking and working in a host of London breweries and was ready to set-up a brewery on his wife’s family dairy farm in Suffolk. As part of this, he was on the lookout for somebody that was intimately familiar with setting up and running a brewery production floor and, ideally, someone with more brewing expertise than him. O’Reily and de Ronde crossed paths, got excited at the prospect of building a quality-focused brewery, and went to work.
Whilst unable to taste her own wares, Sophie’s inability to sample Burnt Mills beers hasn’t been as restrictive as one might initially assume. In fact, Charles is convinced it’s made them better collaborators and more effective communicators: “I know I’ve become better at identifying flavours, and explaining what I want from different beers as a result”. The fact that Sophie was crowned Brewer of the Year by the British Guild of Beer Writers immediately dispels any lingering doubt.
Perhaps its this less than conventional approach that give rise to Burnt Mill’s distinct style, which we hope you enjoy.