Fergus Fitzgerald, the Head Brewer for Adnams, shares his tales of how bats, birds and cockroaches have tried to get near his precious ale, and how a feisty falcon has kept the pigeons away from his prized grains at the Victorian brewery.
I’m sure if you ask most brewers what pests they have to deal with you’ll get an answer along the line of ‘we’re not allowed to call them pests any more, we have to refer to them as … ‘ (please insert whichever occupation or section of society has irked you the most that particular day).
We do get the more conventional pests. Last week at Adnams we discovered a little bat fluttering around in our brewhouse. He was quite hard to see when he was hanging from the roof but was unmistakable when he swooped over the vessels. The brewhouse team were quite looking forward to having a brewery bat as a pet but I have to say I was a little less enthusiastic. Thankfully, it turns out he was just visiting and he found an open door and flew out again, albeit into bright sunshine so perhaps not the best time of day for him to emerge.
Pigeons are probably our biggest most consistent pest. We spent many years pigeon-proofing the brewery, putting spikes up on as many surfaces as we could, but without wishing to make the brewery start to resemble an industrial hedgehog, we’ve now taken to flying some birds of prey around the brewery to ward them off. It seems to work most of the time and they are a pleasure to see.
The practice of having a brewery cat has all but died out, but it was once very common. Also very common were stories about the cat going missing and being found at the bottom of a vessel of beer, in none of these stories was the feline-infused beer ever destroyed. Thankfully the practice of putting lids on the vessels has long since prevented this less than appetising accident from happening at Adnams.
We refurbished the brewery in 2007, but prior to this we had an ongoing battle with cockroaches. Despite constant treatment they always came back. Arriving at the brewery at 3am you’d open the door and reach around the corner to turn the light on, for a split second the floor looked black and then they scurried away to reveal the white tilled floor beneath. We had to rip out the old floors when we refurbished and it seems it was in the old wooden floors and walls that they had set up home. It’s been 4 years since we finished this work and they haven’t been an issue since and long may it continue.