IAN A. FORBES
BREWMASTER – BREWING OPERATIONS MANAGER
CARIB BREWERY LIMITED
There are many people who would swear that Ian Forbes has the best job in the world: he is a Brew Master. Most people enjoy lager, but the job takes more than a passing affinity for beer. A Brew Master needs a real dedication to the craft and Ian is one of the region’s best.
Straight out of 6th Form at St Mary’s College, Ian decided to work for one year before UWI and narrowed it down to two broad fields – the food industry or medical sciences. His first job was as a Lab Technician at Carib Brewery. At UWI he moved his studies in a direction that opened up a lot of opportunities in the food industry and he returned to Carib.
Ian describes Carib as his sole employer and educator for the past 22 years. Carib has allowed him to obtain all of his brewing qualifications, consisting of five years of study and exams at the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and an MBA. In fact, Ian Forbes received the Director’s Award and earned the rank as Top Student for the Executive MBA program in 2007. Ian enjoys this part of his education as it has broadened his perspectives and management skills. His was in high praises of his mentor for the last 22 years, Virginia Clarke, the Technical Director of Carib Brewery Ltd and the only female to hold that title in the Caribbean.
So what exactly is a Brew Master?
Well, he is the Master of the Brew – the one who oversees production, ensures the quality of the beer and concocts new recipes. But more than that, beer drinking is woven into the fabric of our society and it is an important part of the economy, providing significant employment along the supply chain. Ian remembers how the beer strike in 2004 crippled people’s livelihood.
“Beer is serious business globally” he emphasizes and beer is a beverage that has to be treated carefully and with love. He enjoys the creativity that he puts into beers, from interpreting existing styles to creating new exciting ones. He also enjoys the challenge of ensuring that you can control all the processing variables to produce consistent quality beer.
According to Ian, a good beer consists of a number of things. There is the visual which is the color and foam, the appealing aroma and the immediate taste and aftertaste. “Beer is almost like a living beverage and should be at its freshest, protected and drunk as quickly as possible. Carib beer is smooth tasting, not too bitter, very pleasant to drink and it’s not too filling. Though the Carib beer formula has remained the same since it was launched in May 1950, what has evolved is the brewing technology.”
Ian is committed to seeing tasks through to the end and operates under very strong principles. He is responsible for approximately two hundred staff. He looks for employees who are committed to giving a fair and honest day’s work, people who are enthusiastic, passionate, punctual and display the necessary courtesies on the job. He does not tolerate drinking on the job.
Citing HR as one of the more challenging areas of his job, Ian is proud of his employees and the really strong relationships developed on the floor. There is no disconnect between him and his floor staff, seeing nurturing and empowering as a continuing process.
“The future is bright in our Beverage Sector – here and in the Caribbean – and it will only continue to grow”. Carib Brewery encourages responsible consumption and no sale of alcohol to minors. We produce a range of products including low alcohol content drinks for those preferring a lighter brew and non-alcoholic drinks which can be enjoyed by different groups in our diverse society. I am proud of our social obligations and the patriotism in Trinidad & Tobago as it relates to drinking our products”.
Though his job is unique, it is production-driven and can be stressful at times. So to unwind, he has taken up the sport of cycling, which according to him is turning out to be an addiction. A common misconception is that he drinks beer all day, when in fact his job entails tasting beer to ensure that the product is consistent and of a high quality. He does indulge in his favorite beverage on weekends, to be sure.
Hailing from Sangre Grande, “a bush boy”, as he refers to himself, and coming from a small family, Ian attributes his success to God and family and gives a lot of credit to his wife of eighteen years. He adores his parents and recalls receiving ‘licks’ from his mother, a primary schoolteacher at Sangre Grande Government Primary School, who never let him get away with anything. He is very much a hands-on dad in the upbringing of his three teenage children, two girls and one boy. At 44 years old, he describes his family as his most cherished possession and recognizes the sacrifices that his own parents made in his younger years.
Though he dreams one day of retiring to the countryside, he is proud and happy of his leadership in ensuring that Carib remains the number one beer in the Caribbean.
September 06, 2011