The Speakers

The Brewers Congress brings the most extensive and accomplished range of speakers to arm new and established breweries to make the most of this rapid growth industry.

The two morning sessions will focus on brewing ingredients, methodology, flavours and trends. Each session will include a panel discussion when the speakers are joined by other industry leaders to take questions from attendees.

The two afternoon sessions will explore brewing as a business. This spans brand identity, funding, regulation and expansion. Leading experts will give insights into the challenges of brewery growth, how to seize the opportunities in the fast paced market, and standing out from the crowd.

The full list of speakers will be announced in the lead up to the Congress.

Confirmed speakers

Sir Geoff Palmer OBE
 | Heriot-Watt University

Sir Godfrey (Geoff) Palmer OBE is Professor Emeritus in the School of Life Sciences at Heriot-Watt University. Migrating from to London from Jamaica in 1955 aged 14, he has had a decorated career. Following the completion of joint PhD in grain science and technology at Heriot-Watt College and Edinburgh University, and a post-doctoral fellowship at Heriot-Watt University, he joined the Brewing Research Foundation. It was here he discovered the Barley Abrasion Process in 1969, a process patented and used by the British brewing industry. He was also the first person to utilise the Scanning Electron Microscope to study malt production in detail. In the late nineties he was granted the Distinguished American Award for his research on cereals and in 2003 he was awarded the OBE for scientific and charitable work. Palmer was knighted in the New Year Honours list in 2014 for services to human rights, science and charity.

Mike Murphy | Lervig Aktiebryggeri

Mike Murphy is brewmaster at Norway’s Lervig. A Philadelphia native, Murphy has made an indelible mark on the industry since he started brewing professionally in 1999. Responsible for canning Norway’s first craft beer, Lucky Jack, Murphy has also played an integral role in the growth of the craft beer revolution in Denmark. He’s collaborated with Mikkel Borg Bjergsø, Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø and also Shaun Hill from Hill Farmstead, among others.

Dr Bill Simpson | Cara Technology

Dr Bill Simpson is the developer of the world’s first reference beer flavour standards system used to train more than 15,000 professional beer tasters globally since 1996 and now increasingly used to train professional sensory assessors in the areas of water, soft drinks, wine, spirits and various foods. These materials help ensure that sensory tests carried out in industry are as objective as possible. Experienced brewing technology professional, microbiologist, sensory expert and founder of several beer industry support companies. As Managing Director of Cara Technology Limited and prior to that as Principal Scientist at the Brewing Research Foundation, he has advised more than 500 medium to large breweries in 70 countries. Simpson has also authored or co-authored more than 110 scientific papers, book chapters and patent specifications.

Russell Bisset | Northern Monk

Russell Bissett has led Northern Monk to become one of the leading lights of modern UK brewing.  Since launching in July 2013, the brewery has become an award winner at the prestigious World Beer Cup. It is also renowned for the work it does in-and-around the Leeds community it is part of through its Patrons Projects beers, one-of-a-kind collaborations showcasing local creative talents.

Paul Jones | Cloudwater

Paul Jones is the co-founder and managing director of Cloudwater Brew Co. Celebrating its third birthday in February 2018, it’s now hard to envisage the UK brewing landscape without the Manchester brewery as part of it. Awarded 5th best brewery in the world for the year 2016 at the prestigious RateBeer awards, Cloudwater continue to goes from strength-to-strength with its ever-evolving family of beers.

Jaega Wise | Wild Card Brewery

Hailing from Nottingham City, Jaega’s background is in the field of Chemical Engineering. Jaega first worked as a Process Technician for General Electric’s Water Division before moving to London for a commercial role in the industry – switching to international chemical import & trading. Combining expertises in mathematics, engineering & logistics Jaega was a natural choice for the position of Head Brewer at Wild Card. When not tending her beloved spreadsheets or brewing, Jaega spends her time on stage or in the recording studio.

John Keeling | Fuller’s

John Keeling has more than 40 years’ experience in the brewing industry and is a key figure in the brewing landscape, both in the UK and abroad. John passed over the reins of head brewer at Fuller’s to Georgina Young earlier this year, but he has played an integral role in the introduction of beers such as ‘Frontier’ and ‘Oliver’s Island’ as well as more recent launches such as its Black IPA, Espresso Stout and Unfiltered Lager. In addition, John plays an important ambassadorial role at Fuller’s and continues to work on numerous other projects such as collaboration beers.

Richard Simpson | Simpsons Malt

Richard Simpson is the vice-president at Simpsons Malt. A familiar and respected face to breweries both in the UK and overseas, Richard plays a key role in building maintaining relationships with breweries as diverse as Beavertown in London to California’s Russian River. Simpsons Malt has a capacity of 303,000 tonnes of malt across the Tivetshall and Berwick-upon-Tweed sites. At harvest time, the company purchases, controls and stores 100% of their annual barley requirement in quality assured stores.

Nick Dwyer | Beavertown Brewery

“We work a microscopic level on the yeast and bacteria, why wouldn’t you want to represent that sort of care in packaging!” asks Nick Dwyer, creative director at Beavertown. If you have enjoyed one of the North London brewery’s beers in recent years, then you are likely to have seen his work. A key component, and catalyst, of Beavertown’s growth in the last five years, Dwyer has helped propel the brewery’s beers from bar and bottle shop shelves into the hands of an increasing number of drinkers.


Portman Group

The Portman Group is funded by ten member companies who represent every sector of drinks production and collectively account for more than half the UK alcohol market. It believes that a targeted approach with a focus on education and prevention is more effective than blanket controls in tackling alcohol misuse. Alcohol harm reduction measures should target the minority who misuse alcohol rather than the majority who enjoy a drink responsibly. The values and beliefs that underpin the group’s work include the drinks industry has a legitimate and important role to play in combating alcohol misuse and effective alcohol policy balances legislation, self-regulation and personal responsibility

Alex Troncoso | Lost and Grounded

Alex Troncoso is co-founder and Head Brewer of Bristol’s Lost and Grounded Brewers. Although the brewery celebrates its first birthday this summer, Troncoso’s brewing journey is more than 20 years in the making. He graduated as a Chemical Engineer in 1996 from the Colorado School of Mines, but always dreamed of brewing.  He subsequently completed a graduate degree in brewing as well as a Masters in Business.  He played an integral role in the monumental expansion of Little Creatures in Fremantle, Australia, overseeing three production sites, and also served as Brewing Director at Camden Town Brewery.  He co-founded Lost and Grounded Brewers with partner Annie Clements and in 12 short months they have made their name with excellent beers including their flagship ‘Keller Pils’.

Phil Lowry | Simply Hops

Phil Lowry is one of the craft brewing originals with experience in the craft market for over 20 years, that makes him one of the best-known personalities in brewing. Phil looks after the growing European and African market for Simply Hops and is the co-founder of Dover’s Breakwater Brewery.

Gareth Williams | Tiny Rebel Brewing Co

Gareth Williams is the co-founder of Tiny Rebel. Alongside co-founder Bradley Cummings, they have grown the brewery to an employer of 110 people that exports to 35 countries. Not bad for a business only five years young. Tiny Rebel operates from a £2.6m facility in Rogerstone, Newport that has the capacity to produce 5 million litres of beer annually, packaging for cask, keg, bottling and canning.

Charlie McVeigh | Draft House

Charlie McVeigh founded The Draft House group of pubs in 2009 with the aim of doing for beer what our culture had done for food and wine – namely to take it’s provenance and serving seriously. In June of this year the company acquired the Grand Union Company and its six sites, bringing the Draft House estate to 16 pubs. The Company is now busy converting these into Draft Houses with pubs in Kennington and Camden having opened over the summer and Paddington following in October.

Robert Percival | Lallemand

Robert is a qualified brewing professional with extensive experience in quality and technical roles in beer production. Working for yeast specialists Lallemand, the IBD young brewer of the year 2013/14 is an expert in the fields of fermentation and cask beer production.

Stu McKinlay | Yeastie Boys

An incredibly successful crowdfunding campaign in 2015 led Yeastie Boys co-founder Stu McKinlay and his family to move from New Zealand and start a new life in the UK. In two short years, McKinlay has become a familiar and popular part of the brewing industry, with plans underway to continue Yeastie Boys’ impressive growth through beers such as ‘Digital IPA’ and ‘Gunnamatta’ in 2017, and beyond.

Colin Gilesphy | Cave Direct

Colin Gilhespy is the founder of Cave Direct. Founded in 1979, Cave Direct is the UK’s biggest importer of Belgian beer bringing in over 50 breweries as well as looking after exclusive imported brands such as Paulaner from Germany, Kona from Hawaii and Lervig from Norway. Gilesphy says direct delivery has always been a priority for the business as it allows the business to interact face to face with its customers, deliver the freshest beer alongside competitive pricing and greater stock control. The company also works with many of the UK’s best craft breweries, including Beavertown, Tiny Rebel, Cloudwater, Gipsy Hill and new Bristol brewery Lost and Grounded.