Three Bullet Tuesday – 28 February

Fullers goes keg, Wild Beer Co to crowdfund and an update on the 20* most important beers

  • Fullers goes keg: there is lot’s of news coming out of the Chiswick brewery this year and it’s still only February. The first big piece of news was that Georgina Young has been appointed Head Brewer, replacing John Keeling, who is staying on in an ambassadorial role. Georgina has been with Fullers since 1999 and becomes the first woman in Fuller’s 172 history to hold the role. They also recently announced their seasonal calendar for the year which included a number of keg beers; a Black IPA in the spring, Unfiltered Lager for Summer, a Table Beer for Autumn and an Espresso Stout for Winter. They also unveiled a new take on an old classic, announcing London Pride Unfiltered at Craft Beer Rising. This beer is an unfiltered, unpasteurised, dry hopped (although unsure if this is different to Cask Pride) version of London Pride, served in 30L kegs at 4-6°. If you listened to my Beer O’Clock Show Hopinions appearance where Fullers was discussed, I shared my views that Fullers have a disappointing keg line up in their pubs, including their own relatively recently developed ‘craft brands’. While this new announcement shows they are committed to experimenting with more modern styles of beer, they are still locking out other independent brewers from their pubs, which is a little disappointing. Nevertheless I look forward to trying the new beers.


  • Wild Beer Co to crowdfund: the exciting news coming out of Somerset is that the Wild Beer Co will be crowdfunding to help fund their expansions plans. Wild Beer Co, who specialise in making beer using wild ingredients, aren’t the first brewery to turn to crowdfunding for investment. I’m sure they can ask their brewing brethren at Camden, BrewDog, Redchurch, Signature Brew and UBREW (to name but a few) for tips. While I am sure they could have sourced private investment, one of the advantages of crowdfunding is that you build an advocate base around your brewery who have a vested interested in supporting the business they have invested in as well as creating an opportunity for media exposure. BrewDog have done this very well with their 34,000 Equity Punks gained over four funding rounds. With no guarantee of returns for investors, good incentives for investment, even for smaller investors, are a must. Camden did this very well in their Hells Raiser campaign. One of consequences is that you are putting a lot of information about your business in the public domain; your current financials and your future business plan and strategy and I’d be advising the team at Wild Beer Co to be prepared for the barrage of tough questions and meetings requests from potential investors. This is something I look out for when breweries crowdfund as it gives you a real insight into the business side of things. Keep an eye on the Wild Beer website, twitter feed and Crowdcube for more information from tomorrow.


  • An update on the 20* most important British craft beers: in reaction to my post last week, I’ve 65 responses to the online survey. Its already led to debate and it’s spawned a few posts; this one from Boak and Bailey, and another from Myles Lambert. A number of additional beers have been mentioned in the comments section including; Summer Lightning by Hop Back, Roosters Yankee (rather than Baby Faced Assason, that was on the initial list), Moor Revival and Meantime Pale Ale. I will be keeping it open until Friday so if you haven’t had your say yet, there is is still time to get involved. Here is the link

Fosters, Australian craft beer and Pirate Life

Everyone knows that Fosters is Australian for beer. We know this because they have spent millions upon millions of marketing dollars re-enforcing this message. The message lands too by harnessing the power of the Australian stereo-type. Its simple blokes, mates, who love the beach, sport and taking the piss. And now for what might shock you.

Fosters is not Australian.

In fact you could argue Fosters branding is the worst case of cultural appropriation since Katy Perry performed in a Geisha outfit at the 2013 AMAs. Reading the Fosters Wikipedia page is like following the story of who owns the rights to a bad 1980s movie that is trying to be remade. The only problem is that, like any good stereotype, it exists because it is a familiar.

Times they are a’changing. Australia has a real appreciation for food and drink, provenance and craft, taking foreign influences and adding a local touch, or bringing their own to the world. Australian’s are behind a wave of third wave coffee to influence changing tastes and preferences here in London. Taylor Street Baristas was founded in 2006 by three Aussie siblings who noticed a depressing dearth of good quality coffee in London. It’s another reason why the previously successful Walkabout pub chains closed – people’s tastes and experiences have shifted. Australians views have shifted to a focus on good food and drink, a healthy lifestyle and quality.

So when I saw this poster being used at the recent Australia Day Beer Festival I really felt it was wide of the mark in terms of how Australian craft beer should be marketing and positioning itself. At the risk of sounding petty, this is what put me off. The abbreviation of Australia to Oz felt too casual. Sure maybe it’s to keep the twitter handle to a minimum. The budgie smugglers picture is all kinds of wrong. The exact tongue in cheek, wink at the camera shenanigans that you would see form a Foster advert.

A key thing Australian craft breweries need to sell is Australia as a craft beer producer. As a beer drinker, why should people care about Australian craft beer? What does Australian craft beer have to offer? There are a few things I would be doing. Highlight the provenance of Australian ingredients – our barley, hops and water bring something slightly different. Whether its Stone & Wood highlighting Australian hops in their Pacific Ale, or Moo Brewery’s stunning beers showcasing Tasmania water. Highlight our influences – whether it’s US, German or British brewing that is the inspiration, how have we taken that and reinterpreted styles and flavours for an Australia consumer. The other thing, in the age of appreciating beer as a fresh product that needs to be treated properly, is ensuring you have a supply chain that looks after the beers. Cold storage on the trip to the UK is an absolute must. Avoid the easy Australian stereo-type.

Once you’ve got people excited about Australian beer, you need to get them excited about you as a brewery. For me there are two key things to consider. The first is obviously the beer. Making great beer gets people talking about what you are doing. People taking leads to recognition, which leads to Hype. Awards are always helpful. The second is a strong individuality, uniqueness and narrative around the brand. Avoid the easy Australian stereo-type.

The Australian craft beer scene has its own nuances. Firstly the big breweries, Lion Nathan (subsidiary of Kirin) and Carlton and United breweries (subsidiary of ABInbev) came to the party very early on. Establishing craft brands (James Squire) and buying craft breweries (Matilda Bay) and marketing their beer as craft. This Australian Craft Beer Industry Association (CBIA) endorsed this view with the definition for craft that included these breweries as long as they were under a certain size.

But there is some really great independent breweries that have sprung up too. They are young, ambitious, passionate and determined – sound familiar?

While relatively new to the party, having launched in March 2015 (around the same time as Cloudwater), Pirate Life is among the vanguard of the independent craft beer scene. They come with pedigree. CEO Michael Cameron is a beer industry veteran. Brewers Jack Cameron, Michael’s son, has stints at BrewDog and Little Creatures on his brewery resume. Red Proudfoot worked with Jack at BrewDog and also spent time brewing with Cheeky Monkey in Margaret River, another of Australia’s wine producing regions.

A name like Pirate Life comes with obvious connotations; swashbuckling, carefree, bravado. It also comes with a feeling if youth rebelling. Perhaps a bit of BrewDog’s ethos rubbed off on Jack and Red. For them it also means not compromising on quality and flavour.

Adelaide is their home, which is close to the heart of Australia wine country, with the Barossa and McLaren Vale regions known for their quality producers. There is also a number of other craft breweries in Adelaide including Vale Brewery and Prancing Pony. There is also the large traditional brewer, Coopers, who could arguably be described as Australia’s original craft brewery, specialising in bottle conditioned ales. In fact their Pale Ale was once my absolute go to beer. This plays to my earlier point around what modern Australia means.

With a relatively tight core range, their beers have become instantly recognised for their flavour and quality. They have won a swag of awards for both their beers and as a brewery, and achieved unprecedented recognition in the GABS Hottest 100 craft beer countdown, a list based on public votes. In 2015 they had 3 of their core beers in the top 11 and backed that up with similar performances in 2016.

They have fours beers in their core range which they bringing to the UK. The Throwback IPA is a 3.5% ABV session IPA, a light hoppy number. The 5.4% ABV Pale Ale is a very drinkable malt forward Pale Ale, think Sierra Nevada Pale Ale or Oskar Blues Dales Pale Ale. The 6.8% ABV IPA is more of a West Coast IPA, bright and hoppy. The 8.8% ABV IIPA is more like a bigger version of their Pale Ale, rather than a juicy hop or murk bomb you see from other DIPAs on the market at this current point in time.

Freshness is key in beer, especially hoppy pale ales, and Adelaide is a long way from the UK. Pirate Life are committed to ensuring that their beers arrive in the UK and Europe in the best possible condition, using a cold storage supply chain. This re-enforces the commitment to quality.

There is a lot Pirate Life are doing right at the moment. Entering into the competitive and increasingly crowded UK market place is ambitious for a brewery on the other side of the world. I believe they have the credentials, the story and narrative around their brand and importantly the beers to make it a success.

Pirate Life will be sharing a stand at CraftBeerRising with Kegstar. Be sure to pop by to say hello to the team and try some of their beers. You can also find them at selected pubs and bottle shops across the UK.

Disclosure: I met with Sean Robertson, sales and marketing for Pirate Life Europe, in researching this post. He also provided free samples of the beer. Images are from the Press Release.

Three Bullet Tuesday – 21 February

The 20* most important British craft beers ever, Beavertown and sexism in beer

  • 20* Most important UK craft beers: there was article being shared in twitter called ‘The 25 most important American craft beers ever’. It was written by Chicago Tribune writer Josh Noel, which itself was inspired by another post by Food and Wine. While the American craft beer scene is more mature and the legacy of the beers on these lists are clearly more time-honoured, it got me thinking about what a list such as this would look like for the British Craft Beer scene. A key challenge is defining the parameters. Nevertheless, I think we can define ‘craft’ relatively loosely and ‘important’ in a similar way to our US colleagues: It’s one that either changed consumer tastes or how breweries approach making beer. There are a few obvious ones: Punk IPA by Brewdog, Jaipur by Thornbridge, ESB by Fullers. I reached out on twitter and sourced a list of 20 to begin with. Click here to access the draft list and get involved. Please, I invite you to review the list and vote, provide a comment or make a suggestion of your own. I intend to keep this open for a week and will share the results here in a future post (any maybe even a podcast)

*the final list may end up being a different number

  • Five go to Beavertown: Beavertown Brewery held their 5th birthday celebration on Saturday with a party at their brewery. They invited 5 other breweries to collaborate naming each beer after the Famous Five; Julian, Dick, Anne, George and Timmy. Each brewery brought three other beers, plus there was the core range from Beavertown and a few specials thrown in (including Stockholm’s Bretted Saison they were pouring from large bottles). It was everything you could expect from a craft beer festival and I really enjoyed it; a great atmosphere, yet wasn’t too busy; you never waited too long for a drink; all the beers were great (expect for one that I was a little disappointed with) and it was great to see some old friends and meet new ones. I can’t really fault the event. One thing that really hit me was how much they have grown in such a short space of time. I was last at the brewery just under two years ago and since then a room that was previously empty is now stacked with brewery kit. Towers of kegs lined the estate and a new lot filled with barrels was hidden away from the paying public. Happy Birthday to Beavertown and congratulations. Looking forward to seeing what the next five years brings.
  • Sexism in beer: I’ve read some really good posts on this subject over the past few weeks. Kudos to Mark Johnson for calling out his experiences at the Manchester Beer and Cider Festival. His post basically broke the comments section of his website. The counter argument from one of the organisers was a bit weak, which basically said ‘I’ve chaired lots of these panels and he didn’t ask his question properly’. Canadian Ben Johnson (not that one), explores sexist beer marketing, given breweries that use sexist images to market beers the right of reply. You can see that one here. And finally, this one really nails it for me – entitled LOL Sexism in Beer, from Emma, a senior Biomedical Scientist, home brewer and beer blogger. Hopefully these posts challenge peoples thinking on the subject.

Three Bullet Tuesday – 7th February

Underrated IPAs, when beer recipes change and Hopinions

  • Underrated IPAs: IPAs are arguably the most ubiquitous craft beer style. While there is variety in the style and brewers interpretation of it, they are commonly characterised by a fuller body, flavour, bitterness and alcohol content. Of course, most people know the history too, that the style was a variant of ale that was overhopped so that the flavour was sustained on long journeys to India in the 19th and 20th century. In the 21st century, the American-style IPA is the most common, that is, those IPAs brewed by US craft brewers, predominantly using American hops. (of course there is regional variants, but that’s for another day perhaps). Within the UK there are a number of top IPAs such as Northern Monk’s New World IPA, Magic Rock’s Cannonball, nearly any IPA from The Kernel and more recently Beavertown’s Lupuloid. But there are also some absolutely amazing IPAs being brewed that sometimes don’t get the recognition or platitudes. Siren Craft Brew can brew a very good IPA. Their Soundwave IPA is part of their core range and is simply amazing – vibrant and flavoursome. I’ve also had a few of their recent IPA releases; Ten Dollar Shake and Ryesing Tides IPAs which were both fantastic. I had a moment only last week where I was craving an IPA and went to Waitrose on my way home from work. I looked past the Goose IPA and Jaipur and picked up Single-Wide IPA by US brewery, Boulevard Brewing Co from Kansas City. It was just what I was looking for; nice full and smooth mouth feel, caramel malts and light citrus flavours with a nice clean bitter finish. Another well-made and enjoyable IPA. Are there any other IPAs you are enjoying at the moment that are maybe a little unsung?

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  • Recipe changes: when I really got into craft beer, the beloved red ale was a style I was particularly drawn too. I really enjoyed the London Fields Brewery’s Love Not War, as well as Five Points Hook Island Red and while not strictly a red ale, Beavertowns 8 Ball. The Hook Island Red I remember having a big, almost spicy flavour, closer to a rye IPA and at 6% ABV was relatively strong (at least I considered it strong in those heady days of 2014). Another beer I felt a fondness too back in the early days was Camden Pale Ale. I remember it as a very drinkable 4% pale ale that was well balanced with light floral and citrus notes. Almost a lighter version of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. I tried a Hook Island Red just last week and it was smoother and sweeter than I remember but, importantly still retained the essence of the beer I remember and no less enjoyable. Five Points replied to my observation on twitter explaining that they are using natural ingredients and the flavours could be from Amarillo in the dry hop. The fact that beer is made with natural ingredients that may vary is an important factor on why flavours may be different over time. My most recent Camden Pale Ale was last summer and it was less floral and more piney than I remember and after tweeting about it, discovered the recipe had changed to include a lot more Simcoe hops than previous versions. Another beer that has changed recipes but kept the name is Beavertown’s Neck Oil, which started as a homebrew mild and is now a 4.3% Session IPA, although I must confess I never tried any of the earlier variants. Are these beers the same they once were? No. Should I care? Probably more than I do. It would appear breweries can change beer recipes to such an extent that the beer is completely different, yet keep the name and the branding.
  • Hopinions: one of the reasons I started Three Bullet Tuesday was to share my thoughts and start a conversation. And it seems, in this case to have worked. A few weeks back one of my posts was about what influences me when it comes to beer choices. It seemed that resonated with a few people (and was my most read blog post at that time), including Steve and Martin from the Beer O’Clock Show Hopinions podcast and Stu McKinley from Yeastie Boys. For those not familiar, Hopinions is a relatively new podcast, building on the success of the Beer O’Clock Show podcast. While the latter was more focused on discovering different beers the new show is focused on discussing and debating key topics in the beer world. Their most recent episode, for instance, discussed the CAMRA Revitalisation initiative. I was invited to be a guest on their most recent podcast which covered the subject of what determines beer choices. As per the format of the show, Steve tweeted a poll Sunday night inviting people to vote; ‘What most influences our beer buying decisions’, with four options; Hype, recommendations, brewery I trust, price. We recorded the podcast last night and it will be available to listen this Friday evening at 6pm, keep an ear out for it! You can find out more about the Beer O’Clock Show podcasts at their website or subscribe on itunes.