Barry Cornelius brewing his last beer – Green Army – an English pale ale named after his beloved football team, Plymouth Argyle

St Austell Brewery has said farewell to its brewing operations manager, Barry Cornelius, who has retired after 43 years of service.

Since starting at the brewery in 1976, aged 16, Barry — who turns 60 this week — has played a key part in the company’s growth and success.

Over the years, he’s worked under three different chief executives, three head brewers, and witnessed the creation and ongoing success of St Austell’s three most famous beers: Tribute, Proper Job, and Korev. Since Barry joined the company, production has increased from three brews per week to 20 during full operation in the summer months.

Barry’s first role at the brewery was cleaning out the fermentation vessels. Having planned to take up an engineering apprenticeship at English China Clays — a mining company just outside St Austell — he intended his brewing career to be temporary, but eventually made the decision to stay on full time.

In the 1970s, the cleaning of the fermentation vessels involved climbing into open-topped tanks, scrubbing them clean by hand, and re-applying the walls with china clay, which helped to protect the beer from the wood underneath.

Barry has seen these vessels continue to transform ever since, becoming plastic lined with roofs to ensure increased quality and consistency. Eventually, the brewery had dual-purpose, stainless steel vessels installed, to increase capacity and keep up with growing demand.

Having been a stalwart of the fermenting room for many years, Barry became chargehand of the brewing department, before going on to take up the role of brewing operations manager. In this role, he has been accountable for the end-to-end production of all beers at the St Austell site — including brewing, packaging, team management and ensuring exceptional quality standards. Barry’s wife, Sam, also works at the brewery, and will continue in her role as bottling team leader.

‘I’ve been privileged to build so many lifelong friendships’

Brewing director, Roger Ryman, said: “I’d like to say an enormous thanks to Barry, for 43 years of dedicated service and hard work. He’s shown great loyalty and commitment over the years, both to the company and his colleagues, who I know have a huge amount of respect for him. 

“Barry will always be a part of the St Austell family and we look forward to celebrating this milestone with him properly, as soon as we’re able to. It’s been a pleasure to work alongside him for the past 21 years.”

Barry said: “When Roger first joined as head brewer in 1999, it was amazing to see how the brewery evolved. Thanks to investment, we were able to build a state-of-the-art brewing plant, within a Victorian building, which allowed us to brew the best-selling beers that people know and love today.

“It’s been an unforgettable 43 years at St Austell Brewery, and I’ve been privileged to build so many lifelong friendships in that time, which will continue into my retirement.”

With increased precautionary measures in place, St Austell is continuing to brew Tribute, Proper Job and Korev for supermarkets nationwide, throughout the pandemic. The company is also delivering beers to customer’s homes across the UK, via its online shop.

The brewery has seen a high increase in demand for its packaged beers, since pubs closed across the UK. In the past two weeks alone, more than half a million bottles of its celebrated IPA, Proper Job, have been brewed and bottled.

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