Flavour King: James McLennan keeps a close eye on the beermaking process at the Frog and Onion 
brewery. *Photo by Kageaki Smith
Flavour King: James McLennan keeps a close eye on the beermaking process at the Frog and Onion brewery. *Photo by Kageaki Smith

Beer today, gone tomorrow is the aim of the new brewmaster at Dockyard fixture the Frog and Onion.

And James McLennan, the new brewmaster at the pub and restaurant, already has plans to introduce a limited edition summer beer this year to boost sales of the craft ales produced in the west end.

Mr McLennan said: “For the start, I’m going to stay on the same course with the recipes — I haven’t found a need to change things yet.

“I haven’t had a lot of feedback from the island yet and I don’t want to shock people with change right away.

“But I have a tap which is available for experimentation — perhaps a seasonal brew and I’ll start with that first. It’s coming up to summer – I think I’d do either a pilsner or a West Coast pale ale.”

Mr McLennan was speaking only days after he arrived in Bermuda to take over from Robert Beck, who recently left the Frog and Onion microbrewery for a new job in Singapore after two years in the job.

California-born Mr McLennan, who has years of brewing experience across the US, was recommended by his predecessor for the post.

He starts at the Frog and Onion just after it was taken over by the Island Restaurant Group, which already owns several Hamilton bars and restaurants the Pickled Onion, Hog Penny, Barracuda Grill and Victoria Grill.

Mr McLennan said:  “I’ve impressed by what I’ve seen. The Frog and Onion brewery is one of the larger ones I have worked at as far as working space goes.

“I’m amazed by how much room I have to move around in. I’ve also been sampling since I got here and everything tastes very good.”

The Frog and Onion brewery already produces its own porter, an amber ale, a wheat beer and a lager — all with names with a Bermuda twist.

Mr McLellan, 41, originally from the San Francisco Bay area, said he applied for the island job while waiting on UK approval for a job at a brewery in Wales — and opted for Bermuda instead. He added: “The island is beautiful and people are extremely friendly. I’m used to city life, where people are rude first and apologise later.”

New surroundings 

The former US Marine added: “I also like the Frog and Onion — it’s a wonderful patio area and a beautiful building. I like the whole Dockyard area – I’m a bit of a military history buff, so it’s great.”

Mr McLellan discovered his love of beermaking when he started home brewing while still at college in the US.

He said that when he graduated, he opted to turn his hobby into a career.

Mr McLellan added: “I wanted to make beer and got into a brewery close to home and I’ve been working in the business ever since.”

He most recently worked at the Liberty Steakhouse and Brewhouse in North Carolina and has done previous stints at the Flying Dog in Denver, Colorado and the Rock Bottom Brewery in California.

Island Restaurant Group chief Philip Barnett said the new man at the microbrewery was the first of several planned changes following the group’s takeover of the west end institution.

He said: “My executive chef Derek Myers has spent time up there. There are some things we absolutely cannot change, but we’re going to evolve a few things and add in a few items.

“The pies are going nowhere — we will tweak them to make them a little bit better, that’s all.”

Mr Barnett added that Mr McLennan was the highest-ranked candidate by Mr Beck. 

He added: “The great thing about a microbrewery is that we can go in any direction we want — we want to change things up. The goal is to continue to make things fresh and unique. We are creating things literally from scratch, with Bermuda water and grains and hops. It’s like an artist creating a palette of colours.”