Obituary: Dr Ian (Spencer) Hornsey
Sadly this much respected Suffolk brewer and beer writer died on 17 April 2021 and will be much missed. He was always a delight to talk to and was highly enthusiastic and knowledgeable about beer. Following a successful academic career, culminating as a Senior Lecturer and the Head of Microbiology at Anglia Ruskin University, Ian decided to start a new career in brewing. In 1985 he co-founded the Nethergate Brewery with Dick Burge in Clare. Ian was to remain the head brewer until 1999 when oral cancer forced him to retire from brewing. Soon afterward he took to writing about the science behind the brewing industry. Early visits to the original brewery, squeezed in an old commercial garage in the High street were always splendid events as he shared copious quantities of beer and some ancient recipe books to ever enthusiastic drinkers. He enjoyed full flavours and the IPA was very bitter in those days, but if you didn’t drink fast enough he rasped: “so don’t you like my beer?” When Nethergate launched Old Growler (5%) it was based on a mid-18th century London recipe for a strong Mild but was re-branded it as Porter. Ian also initially resisted adding coriander, which was in the original recipe. A short while later two additional versions of the beer were created, Umbel Ale (3.8%) and Umbel Magna (5%), with some of the hot wort being infused by about 4.5 kilo of coriander seeds before fermentation. Both were absolutely fantastic. Old Growler porter subsequently became CAMRA’s Supreme Champion Winter Beer of Britain in 1997 and 2003. in 2004 the brewery moved to a larger farm site in Pentlow, with Ian finally leaving the company in 2010. The brewery has since moved again to custom-built premises in Long Melford. Our sympathies to his family at this difficult time.