The Brewery Engineers Club was formed in 1976 with an initial gathering of six like-minded engineers. The founding members were:
Douglas Russell - Bass, Runcorn
Ken Oldman - Bass, Cape Hill
Fred Barrow - Bass, Burton-on-Trent
John Wardell - Carlsberg, Northampton
George Bruton - John Smiths, Tadcaster
Roy Marsh - Tetley Walker, Warrington
In formulating the initial rules for membership the founding members felt that breweries with an annual output of 1.0 million barrels or more should be represented and, to have a realistic chance of regularly attending meetings, a member had to work at a brewery within a certain radius of Burton-on-Trent, considered to be the centre of the industry in the UK.
In addition to the brewery size and distance from Burton, a candidate for membership had to be the senior engineer at the brewery and be of Chartered Engineer status.
The first formal meeting (considered to be the inaugural meeting) was held on the 21st April 1976. Invitations had been extended to additional potential members for this meeting and engineers attended from Allied (Burton), Greenhall Whitley (Warrington), Tetley Walker (Leeds), Wilson’s (Manchester Harp Brewery) and Whitbread (Samlesbury).
The main aims of the Brewery Engineers Club were:
- To be independent of other industry bodies.
- To meet quarterly, each member taking it in turn to host the meeting. The meeting was scheduled for late afternoon to minimise time away from the brewery. No deputies were permitted.
- To maintain technical liaison between members.
- To share information on the performance of suppliers and contractors.
- To discuss, but not become involved in, industrial relation issues of a general nature.
- To be prepared to interchange engineering spares in an emergency.
Initially it was decided not to invite an extension to the membership until the usefulness of the meetings was demonstrated. It quickly became apparent that the meetings were considered of great value and, gradually, applications for membership were allowed from more distant and somewhat smaller breweries. Early additions included Aston Brewery (Birmingham) and Courage (Bristol).
Over the next 20 years the membership grew slowly but steadily to around 30. By this time a cidery and maltster were also represented. It was apparent that, in the light of the massive changes in the brewing industry, the Brewery Engineers Club would have to respond to the new environment.
In 1998 the Brewery Engineers Club was reconstituted as The Brewing Engineers Association. The change in title was to formally acknowledge the members (and potential members) in cideries and maltsters and to remove any potential criticism over the term “Club”. In addition, the criteria for members’ qualifications, having been somewhat relaxed over the years to acknowledge changes in the industry, were clarified
Another major change at this time was to introduce four specialist functional groups to reinforce its proactive meeting output in key areas:
- Training / Education
- Operations / Maintenance
- Environment / Utilities
- Health and Safety / Legislation
These groups were rationalised into three more recently:
- Operations and Utilities
- Safety, Health and Environment
- Maintenance, Training and Development
In these fields the Association works closely with important industry bodies such as the British Beer and Pub Association; Health and Safety Executive; Institute of Brewing and Distilling; Brewing Research International etc.
Each functional group takes it in turn to organise the Brewing Engineers Association Annual Technical Day. This seminar has been held every year since 1977 and is recognised as a highlight in the brewing industry calendar.
The Brewing Engineers Association hosts an annual Ladies Night to thank our partners for their support during the year. It also presents an opportunity for current members and past members to catch up on news, exchange contact details etc.
Every two to three years the Association arranges a Technical Visit over an extended weekend to a centre of interest. The tours generally include a number of breweries or drinks companies, key suppliers etc. Countries visited have included Ireland, Holland, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Italy and Spain.
At the time of its 30th anniversary the membership of the Brewing Engineers Association numbered 53 and continues to grow. The Association remains a major body within the brewing industry and is determined to provide a valuable technical forum for its members.
During 2007 the structure of the day was reviewed and we changed from Function Groups to an open forum were hot topics are discussed. It is intended that each member of the Exec bring to the members the latest developments and or changes, which could involve us. See the table below for contact details.