Heroes of beer: Roger Ryman

In memoriam


The British brewing industry lost one its most loved and respected members in Roger Ryman at the end of May. 

Roger, who was brewing director at St Austell Brewery in Cornwall and oversaw production at the Bath Ales Hare Brewery, died of cancer at the age of 52.

A Yorkshireman with a roving accent from his years of moving around the country, Roger grew up in Leeds with parents in academia, and was a true outdoorsman and brewer from a young age, taking a summer job on a farm as a boy and playing around with Boots home brew kits in his teens. 

After studying Agricultural Science in Newcastle, he got a job in a brewery lab there and then, after a year, travelled to Canada, where he met and fell in love with his wife Toni, forming a relationship that remained strong and true. 

Upon his return to UK shores, he took up a masters degree in brewing in Edinburgh, before joining Maclay’s brewery in 1996, which sadly didn’t work out and, in what he often described as “a leap of faith”, moved to other end of the country. 

In St Austell’s official statement on his sad passing, James Staughton, president of St Austell Brewery, who worked with Roger for 20 years said: “I recruited Roger in April 1999, and he immediately wowed all of us with his passion for beer and brewing within minutes of his interview starting. The job of head brewer was already effectively his, right there and then – we need not have seen anyone else. He was the breath of fresh air our brewery so desperately needed at the time.

“He has left us all with a legacy that we will nurture and build on, as a mark of our respect for Roger and in remembrance of him. A brilliant, talented brewer and a great friend.”

Personally, I was lucky enough to call Roger my friend, as well as regarding him as one of the best brewers in the country; he was always there if I had questions, his passion and enthusiasm shone through everything he did, and it had become tradition to have a ruinous pint of Big Job with him upon entering GBBF every year, there was no arguing about that, it was happening. 

I will never forget the time I spent brewing with him, interviewing him or just hanging out and having fun, he will leave a huge hole in the UK brewing scene and in my heart too - he was a gentleman and a scholar, with a very naughty sense of humour - we have lost one of the best of us, and my thoughts and love go to his wife Toni, his wider family, friends and all at St Austell and Bath Ales. 

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