Tuesday, 5 January 2016

2016 Predictions

I've seen a few predictions being rolled out about what people think will occur in the beer industry this year so here is one of my own...

The so-called coming hop shortage will be countered by global warming causing better conditions for growing hops in the UK and Ireland. 
Hipsters will therefore turn their attention to buying farmland and cultivating hops (badly, because let's face it they're just city hippies) instead of starting up breweries and will all become millionaires for selling weeds, making the rest of us cry into our sours.

You heard it here first, people. As you were.



Wednesday, 16 December 2015

On the Road

I was speaking to a brewer on the Faecesbook yesterday because i'd noticed that he was checking in to every single pub/bar etc... as he was delivering to them and i just wanted to congratulate him on letting his audience know where his beers were going.

Simple idea isn't it.

so what? you ask, tonnes of them must do it....Do they though? If they are i'm not seeing them online doing this sort of basic task.

After all, small brewers don't have the marketing budgets of the larger ones and should really be using every single tool that they can, especially if it's social media and....free!

The brewer in question, and yes he's the brewer, drayman, dogsbody etc....was also telling his audience what he was delivering, gone from simple to simply genius in one small tap of a smartphone, right there.

So not only is he drumming up interest and possible trade for himself, he's letting his customers know which of his beers are where so they can drink them therefore drumming up trade for the pub or bar too.

Fucking crazy notion! Customers, y'know....drinking beer!

There are several forms of of social media that support check-ins; Foursquare, Facebook, Yelp to name a few which let you check-in in real time, as you arrive, whilst you are there etc...So why don't you encourage your local brewer to use them!

The brewer I'm talking about is Sean Ayling of Pig and Porter brewery, a very good brewer who's
making some very good beers so i suggest if you're out and about in the next week or so you might want to check out the pubs he was delivering to today...

The Three Mariners in Hythe, Kent - Red Spider Rye, Ashburnham Pale and Fatal Flaw.
The Clarendon, Folkestone, Kent - Ashburnham Pale.
Rose & Crown, Stelling Minnis - Ashburnham Pale.
Unicorn Inn, Canterbury, Kent - Cast no Shadow.
the Phoenix, Canterbury, Kent - Red Spider Rye.

So there are just a few of them. if you're in Kent, keep an eye out for them, they're excellent! Follow them on Twitter, click on the links above!

I'm sure a load of brewers will grumble about time etc....what do i know etc... but seriously, i'm not sure where the 'losing' is here for small brewers; i for one would like to know where my favourite beers are going to be on draught when i get back to the uk in a few days!

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Golden Pints 2015

Thought i might go with the flow this year and actually do a Golden Pints Awards, i know, it's
shocking but it has been an interesting year for beer. There may well still be an Aspirational Lambics too as i do have a monumental hangover ;-) 

So here we go...

Best UK cask beer, not a new beer but it blew me away when i last drank it. Hawkshead Brewery, Windermere Pale. Just wow. Honourable mention to Sambrooks Lavender Hill; yes i'm biased, no i don't care.
Best UK keg beer, I've not had very much of this category so i'm going to go with a beer that i had more of than any other from keg; Hackney Brewery, Session IPA. Cracking beer in my favourite style.
Best UK Bottled beer, Well looking back on my year i'm going to have to go for Brewdog, Dog D. Absolutely stunning. 
Best UK Canned beer, well there are a plethora of quality canned beers out there now and there are a few that i'd like to mention before deciding which one. London Brewing Co, Upright is the first, great beer! Well done! Beavertown, Holy Cowbell knocked a few socks off too this year! Roosters Baby Faced Assassin was a great transition into can and finally, Four Pure Session IPA is a thing of beauty. But overall i would say that just out of pure stand-out fucking trumpet fanfaring, spectacularly awesome, mind blowing in a can i'd have to go with the Beavertown Holy Cowbell.
Best Overseas Draught, well the winner on this one is easy as i was drinking it just yesterday and that's Woodstock Brewery, Californicator IPA. A very special mention should go to Rory at the Aegir Project though for his Pale Uil, absolutely stunning.
Best Overseas Bottled Beer, would have to go to Devils Peak, Kings Blockhouse IPA, I beer i have drunk an awful lot of this year and i've not been let down by it once! Honourable mention would go to a beer not being brewed anymore which i had aged for 5 years, Steve Donohue, formerly of Firehouse Brewery and their Hardly Thomas Barley Wine, Holy shit that was a good beer!
Best Overseas Canned beer, is the simply stunning Down to Earth from 21st Amendment. Although it really could have been any of their beers because they've nailed every one i've tasted!
Best Collaboration, i can't comment because i've not had enough of them this year, collaboration seems to be dwindling at the moment.
Best overall beer, if i have to choose, i'd have to go with, Brewdog's Dog D.
Best Branding, again i'd have to go with 21st Amendment, i've always thought it was great, Beavertown would come a close 2nd though.
Best Pumpclip, AFC Wimbledon's Plough Lane Ale! Because fuck yeah!
Best Bottle Label, i can hand on heart say, i really don't care.
Best UK Brewery, Tough call, there are a lot of them now but i'm going to go for London Brewing Co, the beers are well made, they're expanding all the time and they also have the element of experimentation. Good job, team Dan!
Best Overseas Brewery, I will always have a soft spot for 21st Amendment so i'm going to go for them but honourable mentions must go to some of the Cape Town breweries such as Aegir Project, Devils Peak and Woodstock.
Best new Brewery opening, Wimbledon brewery. You guys rock!
Best Pub/Bar of the year, Any pub that does amazing wings gets my vote so the Bull in Highgate wins this one! 
Best New Pub/bar opening 2015, don't know really.
Beer festival of the Year, i've only been to three this year so Cape Town Fest of Beer gets my vote this time round.
Supermarket of the year, Mark & Spencer for their own branded range. They've chosen some great breweries to work with there.
Independent Retailer of the year, We Brought Beer, James and his team have just opened a 2nd shop in Clapham Junction and they do a fantastic job.
Online Retailer of the year, i've not really used them this year but Zak Avery's Beer Ritz wins my vote.
Best beer book or magazine, Beer Safari by Lucy Corne.
Best beer blog or website, they currently have a bit of a monopoly on this beer blogging thing as no-one else is really saying anything interesting any more so Boak and Bailey have nailed down my vote.
Simon Johnson award for best twitterer, David Bishop, keep up the good work you legend. You can follow @broadfordbrewer and @twattybeerdoodles, both are great value!
Best Brewery Website/Social Media, I have to say they've all been a bit shit this year, pull your socks up, people!

So there we have it. I'm off to raise a beer to the legend that was Glenn Payne. How about a posthumous Golden Pint for Services to the industry, he'd get my vote. 

Monday, 7 December 2015

Stop Taking the Good Ones!

Many of you will have already heard the terrible news of Glenn Payne's passing away, yesterday.
The man, the myth, the legend, Glenn Payne.
Even though i don't know anything about the circumstances of his death, I felt i should write something about his life, or at the very least the last 7 years of it which is how long i knew Glenn for.

It is a testament to Glenn that so many people are expressing their sadness about his passing and they are doing it from all over the world, that's just how far his influence goes.

So what do I remember about Glenn Payne? 

I first met Glenn in 2008 when I was working at The White Horse in Parson's Green, it was our American Beer Festival and it was slammed. He was there with two other people who would also change my life for the better, Mike Hill and Richard Dinwoodie, owners of Utobeer, who i went on to work for shortly afterwards when i took the reigns at The Rake. I remember his standout character even then, whilst we were all surrounded by the baying mobs of horribly rude sloanies wanting beer he was utterly polite as well as being the life and soul.

I remember all the silly voices he used to put on especially that faux Jamaican one, not very PC but we all loved him for that! Reespek, innit!

His love of football, I forgave him being a Tottenham fan because he was such a nice bloke and i had promised to take him to see the mighty Dons one day when we got back to our spiritual home. Unhappily he was taken from us all too soon.

Most of all i will remember his overwhelming capacity for generosity of spirit. There was literally nothing he wouldn't do for you if he could, he introduced you to people, he introduced you to good beer. Glenn had a way with people, you just couldn't dislike him and it seemed that there was no one that Glenn didn't know in the beer world.
It wasn't just about the beer either, for Glenn it was about good company; he was good company. I remember GABF in 2011 and Glenn, myself, Jeff Nickel, Brad Kraus & Melissa Cole spent pretty much an entire day together, just eating, drinking and laughing around various haunts in Denver, it's a day i, for one, will never forget.

As i type this with tears stinging my eyes i've just realised that no words will ever be enough so i'm going to stop now and go and raise a pint to him at 10am when the local bar opens here in Cape Town.

Lastly I would like to just say this; if there is one person that personifies the phrase "Good people drink good beer" it was Glenn Payne.

I would love to hear your memories of Glenn, so if you feel like sharing them, please do so.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

The Aegir Project, Cape Town

So last time i was here i felt like i hadn't really shared enough about the Cape Town beer scene, i did
the odd blog here and there but it just didn't feel like i'd done enough; so this time i had the idea of a series of meet the brewer blogs, which i hope might give you a flavour of what's going on down here, after all, it;s pretty exciting!

The first brewery i wanted to tell you about is one of Cape Town's newest. The Aegir Project, a micro brewery set at the red Herring Trading Post, literally minutes from the awesome Noordhoek Beach.
The Aegir Project is run by the very unassuming and mega-talented Rory Lancellas so i wanted to ask him a few questions about the brewery and very graciously he took the time to answer them...

GR : Where did the idea of starting a brewery come from?
RL : After spending the last few years working, travelling and developing my craft as a brewer, it felt like the natural progression to start my own brewery; and what better place to do that than my hometown, Cape Town, where the beer industry is just beginning to come into its own. My love of beer and the Cape seaside seemed to make starting a brewery here the obvious next step.

GR : What are the good things and the bad things about the Cape Town beer scene?
RL : Personally i feel that one of the positive and the negative aspects of the CT beer scene is the same thing in many ways, the youngness of the industry here.
Looking at the SA beer scene as a whole the average beer drinker is a lager drinker and hasn't had the opportunities to experience the complexities of beer flavours which you might find overseas, this leaves the beer scene overall slightly more under-educated about what good beer can really be.
At the same time though this is such a great opportunity for creativity to grow a vibrant and colourful beer scene with it's own identity in CT.
Stunning set of beers, recently joined by the Pale Uil

GR : Do you think the CT beer scene reflects other parts of South Africa?
RL : I don't feel like I can honestly answer this as i haven't been able to travel around the other parts of South Africa since moving back home, been so caught up building the brewery that i'm not as aware of what's happening around the rest of SA as I probably should be!

GR : If you could point to one person that inspires your brewing, who would it be?
RL : It's difficult to point to one singular person but i think there are two particular breweries that have inspired the formation of mine.
The ethos of the Aegir Project, i would say is inspired by Dogfish Head; their ability to produce large scale quantities without jeopardising or forsaking quality or creativity in their beers is something i would like to strive to.
My actual beer flavours though are inspired by Magic Rock brewery, their understanding of flavours and meticulous attention every aspect of their beers is amazing.

GR : What was the first beer you ever made? Not necessarily commercial, just the first & how did it taste?
RL : Funnily enough the first beer i ever made was on a massive commercial system in New Zealand. Prior to becoming a brewer i was a carpenter and due to a twist of fate whilst living in New Zealand i found myself looking for a change of career. The first job i got after this was with Speights Brewery, a 200HL plant on the South Island.
I became a brew technician with no previous experience(much like, yours truly, it must be said) and the first beer i ever brewed was a 200HL Gold medal ale. It tasted pretty good to be honest, i remember going down to the local pub and very proudly ordering my first creation.
Unassuming frontage for one of CT's most exciting breweries!

GR : Finally, if you could give one piece of advice to someone wanting to start a brewery, what would it be?
RL : Be 110% positive this is your passion and what you want to do because after the millionth and one times (literally) you have cleaned the same pipe or piece of equipment just to make it dirty again and then clean again, you have to have passion about the end product.
I would also recommend anyone wanting to start up their own brewery not to rush into it without gaining experience in all aspects of the complex brewing process in a well established brewery. its not all as glamorous or straightforward as it may seem. Your own brewery can require you to be highly analytical and quick thinking to be able to problem solve because the only guarantee in the brewing process is that there will be a problem that you will need to solve!

You can follow Rory and Aegir project on Twitter with  @Aegir_Project and you can find their beers in the following places...

On draught at : Beerhouse on Long St, The Red Herring, Door 221, Cape Point Vineyard and of course the brewery taproom.

In bottle at : Potluck Club, Blacksheep, Foodbarn(Noordhoek), Aces & Spades, Roeland Liquors, Liquorcity(Claremont), Tjing Tjing and again, the Aegir Project taproom. I can heartily recommend all of the beers in their range!

The range is 5 stunning beers and i urge you to try all of them! Giant IPA, Red Rye, Midnight Porter, California Steamin' and the recently added and utterly quaffable, Pale Uil.

Until next time!

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Beer & Football, Part Deux!

When looking through my blog reading list, I often see the Barons titled 'Looking Forward to...' on the list; this means he's been sent beer that he can't try right away.

This is my Looking forward to blog..... 

I'm looking forward to the first beer festival to be held by AFC Wimbledon! Yes a much brighter note than the last beer and football blog i wrote. 

The festival runs:
Friday 10th July from 5pm - 1am
Saturday 11th July from 12 noon - 1am - There is also the Watford pre-season friendly being played from 3pm that day.
Sunday 12th July 12 noon - 6pm

Apparently the festival is being run in partnership with the new Wimbledon brewery and there will be 40 ales, Ciders, Perries and Craft Beers available from local and regional brewers. 
Ale FC Wimbledon...

For anyone interested in meeting up for a beer, i'll be going on the Friday night after work. Hope to see you all there!

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Pastures New; Like Totally New!

So, I'm back. If you hadn't heard.

In that London anyway; apparently i'm not allowed to sit around in Cape Town pretending to be a writer anymore and i had to get a job. So I did. I sent an email to the London Brewers alliance and some of them thought i might be worth employing! Who'da thunk?

Even though I'm not really 'salesman material' i'd really like to thank the brewers who thought i would do a good job for them, it meant a lot that they thought highly enough for me and when you've been out of the loop(circus) for a while it's nice to know people remember you.

There were a couple of jobs that interested me but one really excited me; nailed down that was the job i wanted as soon as Duncan offered me it. Talking to Duncan and Sean at Sambrooks is an enlightening experience; for starters the brewery was a lot bigger than i was expecting. Having an extended chat in the bar looking over the brewhouse i got the distinct impression that these chaps wanted to do things the right way, not the easy way but the right way!

For example, if you get a job at Sambrooks you have to go through a pretty rigorous training program which has been developed over the last few years; as you might expect in other jobs but i get the impression not everyone cares too much about the little things that make all the difference.

So what's my job? Chief Taster? Master Pisshead? Nope not even close, I'm a Brewery Assistant. This means I do cleaning, racking, cleaning, more racking, more cleaning; after all, anyone who actually brews a decent beer will know that 85% of the process is cleaning and it just so happens that Sambrooks have people for just that role and i'm proud to be one of them!

I'm very happy with the situation, I'm learning from some pretty great brewers, i have a full time job in a respected brewery and i'm liking keeping a low profile for a change.