Paul Benson, head brewer at Wood’s, has retired after 12 years, handing over the hops, malt and grain to his assistant, Andrew Pinnock. Paul is pictured left handing over the hops and saccharometer to Andrew (right) with MD Edward Wood in the centre.
Paul joined Wood’s in 2002 as a 55-year-old with no experience of brewing, having just been declared redundant after 27 years in the poultry industry.
He may have been new to brewing, but he soon proved excellent at it. By 2004, his brewing credentials were established beyond doubt when fellow professionals in the Small Independent Brewers’ Association, SIBA voted his creation, Wood’s Pot o’ Gold, Britain’s best bitter.
“The award was a wonderful compliment,” said Paul. At that time Pot o’ Gold was a one-off special brew, but it’s now a part of Wood’s permanent range, sold on draught and in bottles all year round.
“At 55, you don’t expect to be doing much after you get made redundant, but I heard the brewery might have some work and got a part-time job there. I started working with Peter Ratcliffe, who was the brewer at Wood’s for many years and when he retired, I was offered the post.”
“I’ve really enjoyed the brewing but it’s time I called it a day. Andrew has been working with me at the brewery for long enough and he’s ready to take it on and do an excellent job.”
So what will Paul do with his time? “My wife Jill’s got a Dead Sea Scroll about 40 feet long of jobs she wants me to do. I’ll be busy!” he jokes.
The new head brewer, Andrew Pinnock joined Wood’s eight years ago and is a farmer’s son from Norbury, Bishop’s Castle.
Wood’s MD Edward Wood said: “We’re delighted with the great job that Paul has done over the years, and with the way Andrew will take over. Consistency is a very important part of producing successful beers and we know it will be very much ‘business as usual’ for our publicans and drinkers.”
We held a celebration lunch for Paul at the brewery tap, The Plough Inn, Wistanstow, to mark his retirement.