Producer of the Month: Tim Berni of Mr Bees Brewery
Tim Berni of Mr Bees Brewery runs a small enterprise with approximately 100 beehives on the Suffolk coast and produce quality Suffolk real beer, using Suffolk Malt, English hops and honey direct from their own beehives. Tim feels that the honey helps the beer give a smoother taste. Tim started beekeeping around 12 years ago with 3 hives, and at the time worked as a full time teacher. Finding beekeeping very addictive and because he was well trained by local farmer Mr David Adams, he was confident in generating more and more hives each year. About 4 years ago he managed enough hives to make a small income from the bees and so decided to become a part time bee-farmer and cut back on teaching. During that time Tim researched the idea of starting a small brewery, having always been interested in brewing and felt that producing good quality real beer using local ingredients marries well with keeping bees. Wanting a new challenge after teaching for 20 years Tim felt the time was right to start the brewery so production started last year.
The brewery is very small and it produces just 9 casks each brew. Tim brews 2 to 3 times a week and supplies local pubs and events within the local area of Suffolk.
Here Tim tells us more about his business:
Why do you do what you do?
I really enjoy managing bees and producing good quality real beer. I get huge satisfaction knowing that hundreds of thousands of my bees help to pollinate the local flowers and crops. I equally get a huge kick when I hear that my beer has sold really well for a particular landlord and customers are really enjoying the beer that I produce.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
That I am involved in a business that does a lot of good for the local environment. It was also important to me that my business produces a tangible product that people enjoy and appreciate.
What do you least enjoy about your job?
I like visiting pub managers and speaking to them in person, but I don't like phoning them in order to sell beer - as I always feel that I may be getting in the way of them doing something important. I also get a little tongue tied and feel a bit awkward on the phone.What achievement are you most proud of?
I am very proud of my bees. There is no skill involved with producing excellent honey, because the bees do all the work for you. I am also particularly pleased when I get emails from people that have bought my beer from a pub, club or event such as a festival saying how much they enjoyed drinking the beer.
Why should we buy British produce?
I keep over 100 beehives and each hive will have approximately 70,000 bees during the middle of the summer. The bees work incredibly hard collecting nectar and pollen, and this results in cross pollinating of crops and flowers within the local area. Supporting my brewery is also very important, as most of my ingredients are bought from within Suffolk, and I sell all my beer to local pubs and at events. I feel very proud that my business supports local agriculture, pubs and tourism at a local level.
How do you think we should be promoting British?
I think that we need to push the importance of Quality. Small independent breweries make excellent real beer, and this should be supported as much as possible at both local and national level.
If you were an advertising executive what slogan would you use to promote British food?
My problem is that I enjoy too much managing my bees and producing quality beer. I intend to stay very small, and so promotion is not my strong point.
What is on the menu this evening?
A nice pint of Beelightful honey beer. Made with Suffolk Malted Barley, different English hops and with honey direct from my own beehives - which gives the beer a nice smooth taste, rather than an overly sweet beer.
How can people get hold of your produce?
My beer can be found in local pubs around Ipswich, Felixstowe and some of the very nice country Suffolk pubs. The beer can also be found at the new Boardwalk Café Bar on the new Felixstowe pier - well worth a visit. It can also be found in one of the beer festivals - organised by different pubs or local CAMRA branches. These are also well worth a visit.