Q&A with Guinness master brewer Fergal Murray
The Guinness master brewer and global ambassador, who was in Hong Kong recently to promote the black stuff, talks to Martyn Cornell
What made you want to go into brewing? "There wasn't that much of a choice, really, to be fair now. I qualified with a degree in chemistry from Trinity College in Dublin in 1983, and the Irish economy, a bit like today, was such that all my class apart from me had to go abroad. I got lucky, I suppose, because I had done some student training at the Guinness brewery and they offered me a job as a research chemist. Sitting round doing things in a white coat didn't really cut it, so I saw the opportunity to get into the brewing department, and I just jumped into that and fell in love with the operations side of brewing."
How did you get the gig as global ambassador? "What happened is I got an opportunity to go to the United States with Guinness as its quality director type of thing, to manage our draught growth in America. I thought, as a young man sent to America, 'Woah, this is fantastic!' So I sort of drifted into a different world there, more marketing, more sales oriented. I did that for a couple of years, then came back and re-entered the brewing world in Dublin. But because of my US activity, if anyone was visiting, [I would be told], 'Fergal, listen, there's a couple of visitors in from China …' I became known as the person to go to if you wanted to know anything about beer, or tour the brewery, or anything knowledge-based. So suddenly I became a resource for all the marketing teams around the world who wanted information, because up until then they couldn't get hold of any at all. So, I created my own role - I've become the face of the brand, and a credible source to be able to deliver the right message to our consumers and customers."
What Chinese food would go well with a pint of the black stuff? "The Chinese style of cooking is obviously different from the Irish style, but some of the products - chicken, roasted elements, deep-fried elements, some of the sweet-sour foods - would go well with Guinness. It would go brilliantly with fresh fish, shellfish, oysters. And you can use it in your batter for deep-frying."