Brewing Up A Storm
Originally from the holy land of beer, Petra Wetzel moved from Bavaria to Scotland after falling in love with the country following a school exchange to Balfron. Later returning to study in Glasgow, Petra began brewing beer to provide her father with a proper German style brew when he visited. Finding a niche in the market, she developed the company, WEST, which has since snowballed from the self-contained beer hall and brewery on Glasgow green to supply over 750 UK venues. Exposed chats to Petra ahead of her Sheffield MADE Festival appearance to find out how it all went so well.
As a successful businesswoman, tell us a bit about what drives you…
I guess having many happy customers is the thrill of the brewing game. I drive a branded WEST Audi and when someone stops me at a red light to tell me how great my beer tastes I know we are doing the right thing. I am not money motivated so it’s not about getting rich. Pride in what you do is far more exciting. I don’t even own a handbag so go figure!
You originally came to Glasgow to study politics, so how did you end up brewing beer?
When I was a student in Glasgow in the ‘90s, my dad used to come and visit me and tell me the beer in Scotland was “below par”. His rantings finally made me open a brewery so he could drink great beers during his visits. What I didn’t realise was that my dad was only one of many people who had a thirst for great Scottish beer.
All your lager is brewed to the standards of the German purity law, how does this improve the quality?
We believe brewing in accordance with the Reinheitsgebot is simply the best way to make beer. We only use four (natural) ingredients: water, barley, yeast and hops which means we produce pure, unadulterated beers with no additives or flavourings. Our beers are even carbonated naturally and suitable for vegetarians and vegans.
Where can we sample some WEST beer?
The best way to find this out is by downloading our WEST Beer App. We’re the only brewery (as far as we know!) that has made an app to show every place you can find our beer in the whole of the world. We’re stocked in over 800 locations now so your next pint of WEST is closer than you think!
So you’re heading to MADE Festival, what will you be talking about?
That’s a good question and to be honest I am not quite sure yet. I love telling the WEST story and how it all started, but I am under no illusion that we are a tiny business compared to some of the bigger players so I never really think of us as super successful. We just do what we love and are lucky to be making money with it. The older I get, the more I evaluate what success truly means to me and I just share my own journey with the crowd. I also love being asked questions as it makes me think outside the box and I hope that people have lots of those at MADE.
As a beer aficionado, what is your absolute favourite beer and why?
My favourite style of beer is a light lager – of course I love our flagship beer St. Mungo but this year our brewers have come up with a new favourite of mine; a single hop pilsner called Feierabend. In German the name literally translates to ‘celebrate the end of a successful working day’ which I think is very apt!
Do you have any future ideas/products in the pipeline?
There’s always loads going on at WEST HQ. As well as being in the midst of building a new brewery, we are simultaneously redeveloping an enormous soon-to-be events space in the same building which will be a spectacular wedding venue which we’re really excited about. We can’t reveal anything about the location yet but keep your eyes peeled for more WEST venues popping up in 2016!
For more from MADE Festival, head to www.madefestival.com.