One of the things we love about being maltsters is being part of a massive international community of brewers and distillers. It’s awesome to get to connect and work with people all over the world who are just as obsessed with malt, beer and quality as we are.
With more demand for our malts not just in the UK but all over the world, we work with hand-picked distributors to reach our customers. In the US and Canada, our distributors are none other than BSG CraftBrewing, the long-running brewing supply company.
We wanted to work with BSG CraftBrewing because they’re experts at what they do – they’re able to offer really helpful advice to professional and home brewers, and they know our malts inside out.
We chatted with BSG’s Southern Region Sales Manager Les Ferguson and Nick Funnell, their Technical Sales Manager in the Pacific Northwest. Check out their thoughts on the US brewing industry and their favourite beer styles…
When did BSG start working with Simpsons Malt?
Les: I started with BSG in 2010 and Simpsons has been a main stay ever since.
Nick: BSG had been working with Simpsons before I joined five years ago, but I was brewing with Simpsons Malt malts long before that!
What kind of customers do you have?
Les: I work mainly with distilleries in the Southern region, as well as homebrewers and wineries.
Nick: In the Northwest region I deal with professional brewers and in Alaska I also supply homebrew stores and distilleries.
What was your background before joining BSG?
Les: I was Director at Miller for 22 years.Nick: I started as a brewer in England, then moved to the US. I was a brewer for 28 years before coming to work for BSG.
What has been the biggest change in the US brewing market over the last few years? Les: The biggest change in the Southern US is still the quest for different and flavourful craft styles, with products infused with different flavour components being created. Consumers want an experience and going to their local brewery or distillery provides that for them.
Nick: In the Pacific Northwest, one of the most noticeable changes has been a move away from brewers just using 2-row base malt and 60L caramel malt to a much wider range. There has also been an explosion in the number of nano-breweries.
If you could only drink one beer style for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Les: I would always lean back on a pilsner-lager style beer for its drinkability and versatility in the Southern heat.
Nick: English Bitter!
What do you think 2019 will bring for the brewing market?
Les: I think distribution will continue to be crowded – I expect the large craft breweries and distilleries to dominate the shelves still. I see expansion and movement with smaller breweries and distilleries toward creating a memorable experience in their tasting rooms and bars showcasing exciting new flavour styles.
Nick: I think there will be more flavour exploration, particularly with non-traditional brewing ingredients.
What’s your favourite Simpsons Malt malt? And why?
Nick: Best Pale Ale; Golden Promise. It has an amazing depth of flavour and can be used in many different styles.
What’s your advice to brewers starting out in their careers?
Les: Create a great tasting room bar for memorable experiences and think quality first when choosing ingredients.
Nick: …and get some formal training.
You’re in a pub with a well-stocked bar and a jukebox filled with songs from every era, which song and beer would you choose and why?
Les: If I’m sitting at a bar by the beach or lake, then Otis Redding – “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay. If I’m at a local bar give me some country – Blake Shelton – “Boys ‘Round Here”.
Nick: Timothy Taylor’s Landlord and Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb. Just because I enjoy them both any time.
Enjoyed this beer chat? Find out what Morten Virkus of Baltic Brewing Supplies told us about the Baltic region’s brewing trends.
[pictured: Nick Funnel]