The People Behind: Pastore

Written by

Lewis R.

Six collaboration brew days across the UK in the space of a couple of weeks was a daunting prospect at the start of 2023’s Xmas ProjectX. Thankfully, craft breweries are known for their hospitality, and we relished the opportunity to catch-up with many of our partners in person. There are fewer hospitable breweries than the father-and-son run Pastore Brewing in Waterbeach near Cambridge. I headed there on a crisp October morning to help brew Cosmic Snowball – the Pastore x Vault City collaboration imperial sour based on a Snowball Cocktail.

After a short walk through the beautiful Waterbeach village, I was greeted by the ever-smiling Chris and Ben Shepherd – the father and son behind Pastore. By the way, if you’re wondering how it should be pronounced, it’s “Pas-tor-ray” – Italian for ‘Shepherd’. Both being big Wolves fans, it was only right that we discussed the start of the season over a coffee before meeting the rest of the team and the wonderful brew kit that they work on. With the brew underway, Chris and I went to pick up lunch, and I got to learn more about two of the friendliest people in the business. As well as developing his brewing skills on a 50L kit focussing on Belgian Dubbel, Chris has worked most of his career as a software engineer. He taught Ben how to brew at home, and Ben went on to study brewing at Heriot Watt, travel the US, and come up with the idea for a mixed-ferm brewery. This combined love of old and new-world mixed-ferm beers gives Pastore’s beers their characteristic style to this day.

I asked the team about their process for coming up with new recipes, and here’s what they said:

“When devising beer ideas at Pastore, we usually start by identifying a theme (e.g. cocktails! fruit crumbles!), and then bombarding each other with ideas that fit, however loosely, said theme. We seek to design beers that fit not just the theme but that also take other factors into account – so the choice of cocktail we’re seeking to mimic, or the fruit selection, will be influenced by many factors including seasonality. From that point, we work backwards from the idea to a recipe and brew process. We are super flexible on fruits and other adjuncts, including natural flavourings and / or extracts where these will add value to the flavour profile we are seeking. We never add lactose, though, and all our sours contain living yeast and lactobacillus cultures (not kettle-soured, not pasteurised). Over the years we’ve gotten better at understanding what will make a great-tasting beer and have grown more confident with our use of ingredients and the ways in which we combine them. And when collaborating with skilled beer designers from other breweries, the fusion of experience and ideas can lift things to a whole new level!”

Pastore’s mission is to help make the UK a centre of modern, innovative sour and mixed-fermentation brewing. With their attention to detail, charismatic style and wonderful taproom, Pastore are doing all they can to raise the profile of sour and mixed-ferm beers in Waterbeach and beyond. I loved spending the day with the team and learning about their past and present, almost as much as I loved trying Cosmic Snowball at our Birthday party – it’s a triumph!