Three Bullet Tuesday

Tuesday 13 December 2016

  • The power of positive marketing: I’ve been thinking a bit lately about my choices. Having a choice is a brilliant thing but sometimes, when it comes to beer there are restrictions on how accessible the beers you want to enjoy are.  Social media however, does not restrict the access to information about and interaction with a brewery; which also influences your choices, both in a positive or negative way. I’ve made an attempt to map this out in terms of a perception versus frequency of consumption matrix using 8 breweries as an example. There are some breweries that I rarely drink but maintain a positive view on driven by their social media, communications approach and the opinions of people that I respect. I would put Cloudwater, Marble and Wild Beer in that category. Magic Rock was in this category until their canning line meant Salty Kiss, High Wire and Cannonball flooded the streets. Beavertown and Five Points are the two breweries whose beer I am most likely to have in hand. I remain a ‘reluctant customer’ of most of Fullers range given their stranglehold on West London and their lack of choice in their pubs (unless you like Fullers). Chorlton is an interesting one. Yes, their beer is fantastic, but their social media presence is at times, puzzling. Listening to the Beernomicon interview with Mike, Founder of Chorlton, he acknowledges this, but frankly doesn’t care. Each to their own, which is why having choice is a great thing.


  • Aussie, Aussie, Aussie: this week sees the conclusion of the Pirate Life launch tour of the UK. Based in South Australia, Pirate Life is a relatively new brewery (est 2014) with a big reputation for great beer as illustrated by their performance in the annual Hottest 100 Craft Beers (where they featured 3 beers in the top 11) and winning Ratebeer’s ‘best new brewery in Australia’ in 2014. We’ve seen a few Australian craft breweries start to import to the UK, albeit it without the reputation of Pirate Life including Vale Brewing and Prancing Pony. I for one have a few questions. Where does the narrative of the start-up Aussie craft beer scene fit with the craft boom in the UK and the wave of imports from US brewers with a relatively well understood craft legacy? How will their highly regarded hop-forward beers fare on the long journey from Australia? Time will tell. I for one will refuse to comment until I at least try the beer!
  • Festival fever: how ambitious should craft beer festivals be in 2018 and beyond? With news that Beavertown’s birthday beer festival scheduled for 18th February sold out, London Craft Beer festival moving to a bigger venue in 2017 and IndyMan consistently sold out – is it time for craft beer festivals to think big? GBBF big?


Three Bullet Tuesday

successTuesday 6 December, 2016

  • Celebrating success: last week saw the British Guild of Beer Writers Awards in London – you can find the full list of winners here. Pete Brown was recognised with the top award taking home the Michael Jackson Gold Tankard for Beer Writer of the Year. Podcast guests Mark Dredge and Jonny Garrett were award winners and you can hear my interviews with them on the website. Both of a fascinating insight into what it takes to do what they do. Awards are a big way the industry celebrates success. It’s important to remember that every award ceremony usually has a nomination or entry process, criteria to assess the nominations and will likely will involve the subjective views of (hopefully well qualified) judges in determining the winners. Some will say there are too many awards in beer, others not enough, or that the process outlined above is not robust enough, judges are qualified or are too subjective or the people organising the awards have less than pure intentions. Nevertheless, given the success of the industry, the effort and energy people put into their craft, there is much to celebrate and we should and are right to celebrate the success of others, through awards or otherwise. Thanks to Matt Curtis for reminding me of this.
  • Odell IPA: I stumbled across Odell IPA on the taps at the Big Easy in Canary Wharf last week. For those unfamiliar, the Big Easy position themselves as an American-style BBQ eatery complete with an extensive drinks list and bar adorned with oversized tap handles, like the ones you find state-side. The beer poured a lovely orange / amber colour with a slightly hazy appearance and a nice thick 1-inch head. It smelt and tasted spectacular. I’ve drank more IPA this year than in any other year and the standard and availability IPAs being produced in the UK is on the up. This however was a reminder that the US still sets the benchmark for this style. For now.
  • Wylam Brewery: is this the most amazing brewery building in the UK? Pictures from The Beer O’Clock Show #CrimboCrawl re-enforced this view. It looks like the most incredible site although I can only comment based on second hand information as sadly I’ve not been there in person. In trying to find out more about the details of it I stumbled across their website, and little else. According to their website:

“Our new home at the Palace of Art in Exhibition Park is the last remaining building from the 1929 North East Exhibition. The Exhibition was an ambitious project built to celebrate and encourage Craft, Art and Industry at the start of the Great Depression. Having remained almost derelict for nearly a decade the building has now sprung back to life as a fully operational working Brewery.”

Surely there is a lot more to the story than this? If there are any stories, posts, podcasts or otherwise about the why, the how, the what and the when of Wylam and the Palace of Art I would love to hear it!