The Aperitif Guy Talks To The Country’s Best Brewer, Ol Fozard

Written by on January 16, 2021

At the end of last year, the Guild of British Beer Writers announced its annual awards, among them the award for Brewer of the Year, sponsored by the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA). That award went to Harrogate’s own Oliver Fozard from the Rooster’s Brewery. I’d interviewed Ol last year about his work to raise awareness of mental health issues, so I was keen to catch up with him in the light of this award and invited him to join me on my Apero Time show this week.

Arranging a radio interview during lockdown is not straightforward. After much discussion and informal risk assessment, we decided we would meet in person to record the show, but with careful distancing and hygiene measures in place. Ol was bringing samples of Rooster’s beers, for us to taste on air, so I had to provide two glasses for each brew; Ol brought two cans of each, to ensure we had no need to share.

My show is a mixture of chat and music. I had asked Ol if we could talk about three topics: the Brewery and its beers, the impact of Covid restrictions on the brewing trade, and Ol’s openness about his mental health difficulties. I was fortunate to have a guest who is so articulate, and Ol was able to talk with passion and humour about brewing. Although we talked about some technical aspects – brewing temperatures, yeast strains and hop varieties – he never once left me feeling ignorant. I hope that comes across in the show; he draws you in, speaks with intelligence and leaves you feeling informed. It’s like you’d already known the information, but it now makes sense. Ol has already shared a lot about his mental health, on Twitter and on the Rooster’s blog, so I felt quite confident asking him to tell us his story on the show. Nevertheless, it’s a very sensitive subject, and I was careful to seek permission to ask about it and to listen respectfully to what he shared.

When the SIBA Brewer of the Year award was announced, both the Chief Executive of SIBA and the Guild Chair drew attention to Ol’s work to promote better mental health, especially in the brewing and hospitality industries. Ol’s openness has gained him many friends on Twitter, including the actor Reece Dinsdale. Reece, too, has spoken about his experience of mental ill-health. Both down-to-earth Yorkshiremen, the two men have hatched a plan to do “something” together in the future to encourage better conversations around mental health, especially among men. Unfortunately, work and Covid have prevented them making any firm plans for now. I really hope I can get them both on my show together when they do!

© Paul Fogarty, January 2021

Paul Fogarty presents Apero Time on the first and third Sundays of every month at 6:00pm. Writing as The Aperitif Guy, he maintains a popular food & drinks blog, which can be found at blog.theaperitifguy.co.uk. You can also follow him on Twitter, YouTube and Facebook under the same name.


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