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Luke Browning from Biochemist Brewery in Red Lodge, between Mildenhall and Newmarket, talks science and making beer in his garage





Our look at Suffolk food producers and suppliers with interesting stories has reporter Kevin Hurst talking to Biochemist Brewery.

By the time Luke Browning was a teenager he knew he wanted to go into science, but it was not until a module during his A-levels his mind fully focussed on the specifics of biochemistry.

He said: “I wanted to understand what makes life tick at the molecular level, what happens inside and outside of cells.

By day, the brewer dons his lab coat to work for an exciting start-up in Cambridge. Picture submitted
By day, the brewer dons his lab coat to work for an exciting start-up in Cambridge. Picture submitted

“There is something extraordinary about contemplating and understanding life in chemical terms. I suppose I was less interested in what could be seen or felt on a macro-scale and more interested in the 'unseeable' on a micro-scale.”

Little did he know back then though that this career path and some fermentation modules during his bachelor of science in biochemistry and his masters degree in biotechnology would lead him to launching his own home brewery.

Biochemist Brewery in Red Lodge, between Mildenhall and Newmarket, started during covid.

On the labels of the cans from the brewery are chemical structures of compounds representing some of the chemical signatures of flavour and aroma in his brews. Picture: Tom Juggins
On the labels of the cans from the brewery are chemical structures of compounds representing some of the chemical signatures of flavour and aroma in his brews. Picture: Tom Juggins

With Luke at home and having already tested the waters with homebrewing while working on his PhD in plant biochemistry, he took the step to set up his business in his garage in the summer of 2020.

He said: “When the pandemic hit I was looking for work and thought my prospects of finding a new job were doomed, so I went hard on setting everything up for the brewery.

“However, I started a new job during the summer of lockdowns so the brewery took a little longer to come online.

“My main motivation for starting it was to create a platform for experimental brewing and to earn money while doing it.”

The brewery can make around 165 cans in one batch. Picture Submitted
The brewery can make around 165 cans in one batch. Picture Submitted

Now a protein scientist working for an exciting start-up in Cambridge, Luke is a biochemist by day and a brewer by night (and at weekends).

Luke said: “We operate as a home-business so we do not have a tap room, but we do ship out online orders and trade at local events – our batch size is only around 165 cans, so we are a very nanobrewery indeed.”

On the labels of Luke’s creations, which include six core beers as well as cider, are chemical structures of compounds produced during fermentation or contributed by the ingredients. They represent some of the chemical signatures of flavour and aroma in his brews.

Luke Browning works as a protein scientist. Picture submitted
Luke Browning works as a protein scientist. Picture submitted

The brewer said: “We have released 13 experimental series brews so far, which is where the fun really is. I have also released more than 10 ciders - some just plain apples and some with infusions, such as chamomile, peach, pineapple and berries.

“We also get our hops from all over the globe as there has never been a better time to be a brewer with the incredible diversity of hops on the market.”

When asked what customers liked about his brewing creations, he said: “I do not know that I have a loyal fan base, but if I have any fans it would probably be people who, like me, are compelled to try new recipes and who are interested in the chemical signatures of flavours and aromas.”

Luke took the step to start the brewery in his garage in the summer of 2020. Picture submitted
Luke took the step to start the brewery in his garage in the summer of 2020. Picture submitted

Luke’s experimenting in pushing the boundaries have not gone unnoticed by the beer-loving community as his brewing has been in the Good Beer Guide since 2022, which he described as fantastic.

About the future plans for Biochemist Brewery, Luke said he would not be giving up test tubes and lab coats for fermentation and flavour just yet.

He said: “We want to stay small and keep the business at home for the time being.

“The current scale of production is not profitable enough so if we can scale up capacity in our existing space, of which there is plenty, then that would be the way forward for us in the longer-term – but we will see what the future brings.”

To find out more about Biochemist Brewery, go to its website.

If you know, or are, a Suffolk food producer or supplier with an interesting story like Luke’s we would love to hear from you – email kevin.hurst@iliffepublishing.co.uk