Three Bullet Tuesday – 21 March

Bude, where’s my beer? Gipsy Hill Brewing Company, and why don’t more craft breweries contract brew?

  • Bude, wheres my beer? A funny thing happened. Like anyone else who is into beer twitter you will have heard of the phenomena that is #CraftBeerHour. The premise is simple, get online between 9pm and 10pm on a Tuesday and share a drink and interact with fellow beer enthusiasts. It has built such an audience that it now features breweries, festival organisers and other beer folk who use the hour like an online Q&A. To further enhance the experience, Tom arranges with the feature brewery for free samples to be sent in advance of the tasting. Back to my story. An email popped into my inbox asking people to enter the draw for free samples for next week’s brewery, Bude Brewery from Cornwall. Rather than wait until later I entered straight away. I must have been the first as it triggered a response from Tom on twitter. To keep it democratic Tom pulls the names from a hat and broadcasts the draw live on twitter. This is how far down the craft rabbit hole I have gone – I, along with around 20 others, watched the draw live. And whose name was deftly plucked from the hat first? Yours truly! Phoa! I never win anything, I said. Now to wait for the beer to arrive. Sadly it didn’t turn up in time for last Tuesday’s #CraftBeerHour, however did arrive in time for the weekend. I have managed to have at least one of the beers, the Black Rock Porter, which came in a 500ml bottle. Beautiful dark colour, with relatively thick head. Nice dark chocolate and roasted malts with just enough sweetness. Stay tuned for the Pale Ale.

You too can sign up for #CraftBeerHour samples right here

  • Gipsy Hill Brewing Company: I attended a meet the brewer event with Gipsy Hill Brewing Company at the shiny new Micro Beers craft beer shop in East Sheen, South West London. Micro Beers is relatively new and follows the trend of drink in / take away with four rotating keg lines in addition to well stocked selection of beers. East Sheen is in a bit of a no man’s land between Putney and Richmond and while it’s on the train line, the regular express services don’t stop here and its serviced mainly by the less frequent ‘all stations’ services. Regardless, and to my surprise, this suburban enclave drew a rather large, interested and educated crowd curious about Gipsy Hill and craft beer more generally. I first encountered Gipsy Hill at the now defunct Winter Brew Festival in November 2014. Their signage stood out, three white guys in coloured shirts holding a Gipsy Hill sign. Given we were at a craft beer festival, my initial reaction was that the Gipsy in Gipsy Hill referenced the fact they were Gipsy brewers. It only highlighted my lack of knowledge about the suburbs of South London. MBA educated Sam McMeekin gave up a promising career in venture capital micro-finance after becoming disillusioned with a new job. Rather than handing over cash to driven entrepreneurs, he wanted a challenge of running his own business front to back; branding, marketing, financials, really making and building something of his own. He teamed up with Charlie Shaw, who was working at 5 Points Brewery and Gipsy Hill was born. Sam explained the brewery, his story, walked through 4 beers including core beers Hepcat (Session IPA) and Southpaw (Amber Ale) and new beers Day Tripper (American Pale Ale) and Nomad (Milk Stout). Their beers are named after groups of people, with previous beers including Bogan (NZ Pale Ale), Drifter (IPA) and newly released Walloon (Belgian IPA) which pays homage to the Belgium region known for its cycling and brewing heritage and released right in time for the Belgian cobble classics. Sam also reflected on the challenges of scaling up given their recent expansion as well as their plans for improving quality and output with investments in water treatment and a canning line. All in all it was an enjoyable experience and great, as always, to hear from passionate craft brewers.

  • Why don’t more craft breweries contract brew?: I watched this very funny video parodying things Australian craft beer drinker say. You can watch it here on vimeo.

One thing I got a chuckle out of is the ‘contract brewed’ gag. But openly talking about contract brewing seems rare in the UK, or is it that it’s just not that common? Five Points Brewing Co announced in their year-end blog that they were contract brewing some (only Kegs, cans are brewed and packaged at Five Points) of its Pils beer to a ‘family owned, independent brewery in Belgium’, in an arrangement reminiscent of Camden Town’s. I can understand their rationale too, which is outlined in the blog, but can be summarised as “At Hackney Downs we are hemmed in on all sides, and after several months of (currently unsuccessful) negotiation with our neighbours and with Network Rail, sadly it looks like we’ve run out of expansion options at our current site”. But surely 5 Points aren’t the only ones with this problem? That sounds like any typical craft brewer, in an industrial estate or in a railway arch – hemmed in – waiting for an opportunity for a close or woe-betide adjacent lot to become available. Often this leads to inefficiency, such as taking an hour to unpack assorted brewery paraphernalia only to spend the same amount of time repacking it that same evening. A quick google search of contract brewers in the UK reveals a number of options, namely traditional brewers with extra capacity to spare. But again, it’s unclear whether, when faced with barriers to expansion, craft breweries seriously consider contract brewing as another way to grow in the face of barriers to scaling up quickly to meet demand.

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

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.

My Golden Pints 2016

I know it’s peculiar that I am only now, on the 27th of January, getting around to publishing my Golden Pints for 2016, even more peculiar that it’s after I have already posted my predictions for 2017. Nevertheless here they are.

A few caveats from me. Firstly I don’t get out as much as I used to. I have two young kids under the age of 4, which any parent will know is a handful. It has a way limited your spare time. Not that I would have it any other way mind you. The other is that I don’t really drink cask beer, as noted in a previous point of mine, which again limits my exposure to certain beers and breweries (but I am working on that). As a result, my list of Golden Pints might look a tad shorter than others you may have read.

Regardless, I think it’s a perfect opportunity to shine a light on the good things people are doing to make my experience as a beer drinker more enjoyable and as a result this post is unapologetically positive.

Best New Brewery: Elusive Brewing & Lost and Grounded

Like any craft beer enthusiast, trying new beers from new breweries is par for the course. Keeping up with all the new breweries is always difficult given the explosion of new breweries in the UK. This competition makes it a challenge for those opening a brewery to cut through that noise and make an impression.

In launching a brewery there is lots of decisions to be made; business model, branding and visual identify, beers, premises etc. and lots of red tape to cut through; licensing, tax, regulations etc. Increasingly breweries are looking to share insights about their decisions and experiences of their launching brewery before they have even brewed a beer. I can see the merit; engaging your audience, setting the tone for your brand, vision and identity. My joint winners for the award – Elusive Brewing and Lost and Grounded – both shared a lot about this before they even brewed a beer. Not that they were first time brewers by any stretch.

Elusive Brewing has made a running start to their first year. Founder and one-man-brewery, Andy Parker, collected a swag of homebrewing awards before ‘going pro’ and he has continued that winning streak, picking up six best of festival awards in his first year. Andy has a number of collaborations under his belt including Aztec Challenge, a smoked chilli porter with Hop Burns and Black. Andy produces beers in cask, keg and bottle. Keep an eye out for his unique retro, 8-bit computer game inspired visual identity in your bottle shop. And to top it off Andy is an all-round top bloke, sometimes referred to as ‘the nicest man in beer’. I’m sure reading this will make Andy wince.

In contrast to Elusive, Lost and Grounded started with a scale probably unseen in recent times, they are similar in size to Magic Rock, with plenty of room for expansion. Lost and Grounded was founded by former Little Creatures and Camden Town brewer Alex Troncoso and his partner Annie Clements. In one of their very open posts, Alex and Annie explain they have put all their life savings into the venture plus are backed by Made by HAND, the four original founders of Little Creatures, an Australian craft brewery sold to Kirin in 2012.

With a narrow but focused core range, this soon expanded on the back of a number of collaborations with other breweries including Cloudwater and Burning Sky. I’ve written a little about their beers on a previous post but to summarise they are characterised by smoothness of mouthfeel, subtle but distinct flavours and above all else an approachable drinkability. But it’s their open and humble approach and willingness to engage that has won me over.

Most Improved Brewery: Redchurch Brewery

I must admit I have a soft spot for Redchurch as it was the first craft brewery I really took an interest in (see a previous post of mine on this). Consistently producing quality beers is the benchmark that every craft brewery strives for. Unfortunately every Redchurch beer I had wasn’t reaching that consistent quality benchmark. However, 2016 was a breakthrough year. They picked up some talent and experience in James Rylance; successfully smashed their £200k crowdfunding target raising just under £500k; established a new brewery in Harlow, Essex; set about improving their brewing recipes and practice; after experimenting with a few different beers they formalised their Urban Farmhouse brewery at their existing site in Bethnal Green and to top this off launched a new branding and visual identity to wrap all of these changes around to set a fresh, new direction.

Their core range of beers are all dialled in and true to style. At their party on Saturday 10th of September 2016, I sat in their taproom and sampled each and every one of them alongside a large number of other enthusiastic London drinkers. The standouts were the Shoreditch Blonde, now brewed with saison yeast, the Great Eastern IPA, as good a West Coast style IPA you’ll find in a core range, and the Old Ford Export Stout. The taproom itself is small and cosy sitting in a mezzanine above the brewery and worth a visit if you’re in Bethnal Green area.

Best Brewery: Beavertown

Like many Londoners, I drink a lot of Beavertown beers. They are readily available, there’s great variety in their core range and importantly, quality and consistency. Add to that the seasonals such as Bloody ‘El and Quelle, the frequent collaborations and the Tempus Project and they are brewing a variety of beer that would suit anyone’s tastes.

They put on great events too – whether it’s their birthday events (notwithstanding the issues around overcrowding this year), Rainbow Project or special one off events, they always entertain, engage and educate.

In Logan Plant, they have a front man than any brewery would kill for – driven, articulate, and passionate. He sets the tone from the top and is creating a great team of people and importantly a great culture. I’ve often said that Beavertown are more punk than Brewdog. Not that being punk is an aspirational position or benchmark to aspire too, but there is a relatable authenticity to Beavertown. They are my brewery of the year for all of these reasons.

Best Beer: Barrel Aged Caribbean Chocolate Cake, Siren Craft Brew x Cigar City

This was both the easiest decision and the hardest decision. As you go through the year you mentally catalogue which beers really stand out and this was the first beer my reflexes naturally responded to when thinking about my beer of the year. But when challenged I questioned the criteria upon which I was making my assessment.

Five Points Pale Ale is a great beer across keg, bottle, can and cask (albeit I only had one pint of Five Points Pale on cask), fragrant and flavoursome. Beavertown’s Gamma Ray continues to delight as does their seasonal farmhouse pale, Quelle. Cloudwater DIPA v3 was a stand out as was their Citra IPA. Brew by Numbers range of saisons including their 01|06 Motueka and Lime and BrewDog’s Albino Squid Assassin also made a strong impression.

Regardless the Barrel Aged Caribbean Chocolate Cake stood above all of these. Labelled as a Topical Stout aged in Bourbon Barrels and brewed in collaboration with Cigar City Brewing, it weighs in at a big 8.4% ABV. Lucky for me there appears to be a never ending supply at Oddbins West Hampstead where for £6 you can get your hands on this rare beast. It’s got big dark chocolate and coffee flavours, a fruity sweetness and hints of oak, vanilla and tobacco. It must be said I am also a fan of any beer with cacao nibs on the ingredients list. So many flavours blended and balanced so well together. I can only imagine the faces of the brewers at Siren when they cracked open the barrels after 12 months to find this treat of a beer. Thanks for making such a cracking beer, cheers.

Best Pub: Dukes Head, Highgate

On my first visit to the Duke’s Head I mistakenly turned up at Duke’s Brew and Que. Having agreed to catch up with Matt Curtis at the Dukes, I got my wires crossed and headed to Dalston rather than Highgate. Eventually I arrived late and we settled down to a few beers.

The Dukes Head is smaller than I imagined. One long, relatively narrow rectangular room with a bar covering half of one side. It has character and importantly great beer. Whether its keg or cask, cans or bottles they have a rotating beer list that would satisfy even the most discerning of beer drinkers. They do have food but run a rotating roster of street food vendors who take up a short term residency inside the pubs kitchen. They have great, knowledgeable attentive staff and put on some memorable events, hosted by passionate beer writer Matt Curtis. The relationship the Dukes Head have with Matt has me convinced that every pub worth its salt needs a resident beer writer / blogger / beer evangelist to do what Matt does for the Dukes Head.

But the credit is not Matt’s alone. Mars is the curator of the beer list and build the menu based on her own likes – it’s clear that she has impeccable taste – and Tom is the manager overseeing all this. It’s a little off the beaten track (take the Northern Line to Archway and then the 143, 210, or 271 bus or take the short but steep walk up the hill to Highgate) but well worth a visit.

Best Online Retailer: BeerBods

It’s difficult to describe BeerBods as an online retailer as they are more of an inclusive beer club for the advancement of the appreciation of beer. That is their value proposition, their differentiator and it’s difficult for competitors to copy because they will lack the passion and drive of Matt, Gordon and team. I’m heading into my third year of being a BeerBodder and it’s great to see them go from strength to strength.

In addition to their weekly beers, I look out for their ‘Ones to Watch’ box which includes a curated selection of beers from new breweries (due out in coming weeks) and other selected boxes throughout the year. I’ve got my hands of one of their BeerBodsPlus box, a concept they are playing around with, which delivers a slightly more exotic selection of beers at a higher price point. It will be interesting to see where they take that proposition as in my view, there is a market for a more exclusive type of beer club. They also do a range of BeerBods for Business services if you are interested too.

Back to what they do best; each week for just £3 there is a beer, the story behind it and an interaction on social media about it with your fellow BeerBodders. One caveat – you might not like all the beers – but you will learn something and might pick up a few pointers from what others think of it. It has spawned its own customer created content: Steve and Rolands Beer Podcast reviews the beer each week, and Si Bullock creates a Spotify playlist for each beer each week, a Strava Running and Cycling club and I’m sure there is others I have missed.

It’s helped me on my beer journey to discover new beers and breweries. I have also got family and friends to sign up too and recommended it to countless people. If you are interested be sure to use my referral code YRHXQS for a little discount!

And that’s all the Golden Pints I have to award for 2016. I am looking forward to being dazzled and amazed by what 2017 brings.

Note: thanks to Clayton Chisholm (@clayfiish)  for permission to the use the artwork

Three Bullet Tuesday – 24 January

SIBAs craft mark, Lost and Grounded and what glassware tells us about the state of beer

  • SIBAs craft mark: it’s been just under 6 months since the Society for Independent Brewers (SIBA) announced a definition for a craft brewer and a stamp to accompany the title. The ‘Assured Independent British Craft Breweries’ (AIBCB) initiative was designed to provide greater clarity to consumers looking to purchase beer from genuinely independent1 breweries. While SIBA has over 850 members, all of which are eligible for the stamp2, only 150 pledged their support for the scheme and committed to use the logo at the time of launch. Today that number has increased to 350 which, given that it is still early days for the initiative, is a result I am sure SIBA considers a success. The next steps for the initiative will be unveiled further at the BeerX in March (SIBAs annual conference-cum festival), but will likely include engaging both on and off trade points of sale. Personally I have yet to see any of the craft beer I drink with the AIBCB mark although if it goes some way to achieving its goal of provide clarity to consumers on what they are drinking that surely is a good thing. However, there remain consenting views – without consensus on a definition and without complete take up, will it achieve this goal? Time will be the judge.


siba-aibcb-logo_black1: SIBA defines independent as ‘independent of any larger controlling interests

2: to be eligible, breweries should be independent and above by SIBAs Manual of Good Brewing Practice

Have you seen any beer with the AIBCB mark? Tag me in your picture

  • Lost and Grounded: Lost and Grounded was arguably the biggest brewery launch of 2016. They came with brewing pedigree, financial backing and an open and humble approach and then they got around to brewing some beer. Like most, I waited with anticipation to try their beer to see if my sky-high expectations would be met. While I had perhaps a pint or two at the Dukes Head Highgate one evening, it wasn’t until they released their bottled range I really got to sit down, enjoy and assess their creations. Having purchased two of each of their available range from Beer Merchants, I was both surprised and delighted when they arrived just two days later (kudos to Beer Merchants for their impeccable service). Beer is best shared and I bought these beers to share with my father-in-law over the weekend. They were characterised by smoothness of mouth feel, subtle but distinct flavours and above all else an approachable drinkability. You can find a more detailed review of the beers on my Instagram feed, although what I would say is that they were all very good (my highlight was their No Rest for Dancers, a hoppy red ale). If you haven’t seen them in a pub or bar near you, get on to Beer Merchants and make an order.


  • Glassware: ‘You don’t seem to have any beer glasses’ I observed recently at my Dad’s house. He seemed to take some offence to the suggestion as he pulled a tumbler from the glass cupboard. While he had a variety of glasses for different styles of wine, he failed to have anything I would consider suitable for by Pilsner. So I helped myself to a wine glass, which was subject to much eyebrow raising on his behalf. It got me thinking of my own glassware collection. When I got married, glassware took its pride of place alongside crockery on our wedding registry. At the time this was what I viewed as a suitable if not slightly flashy beer glass.


Over time, and almost by osmosis I have started to gather a range of more specialist beer glasses – visits to festivals and breweries largely to blame. I have my favourites; my 1/3 pint tulip from Hop Burns and Black, my Teku from BeerBods and my Craft Master from Weird Beard. I understand that drinking beer and appreciating beer are two different things, but until I can walk into my Dads house and he has more suitable beer glasses there is still more to do to educate people about appreciating good beer.

My beer glassware
My small, growing specialist beer glassware collection

Share a picture of your glassware collection – tag me in a photo

8 Predictions for 2017

As a new year rolls around, it’s time for beer bloggers to dust off their crystal ball and give their take on what to expect in the year ahead. I’ve penned a few quick thoughts on some of the key things I expect we will see in 2017.

Beer Styles

Many talk about which beer styles they expect to see emerge and dominate, which I believe is a fool’s errand. The beauty of the craft beer scene is the variety that breweries continue to deliver. Whether its traditional styles, lagers, low ABV, high ABV, murk bombs, sour beers, barrel aged beers, fruity beers – there exists great examples already available to consumers with many more to come.

One trend we will see is that wood-aged sours, wild, mixed and spontaneous fermentations will get greater attention. Burning Sky have taken delivery of a coolship, thought to be the first in the UK for some time. Beavertown’s Tempus project will no doubt start to see results. Cloudwater, Wild Beer Co and The Kernel have foeders that they will be playing with more and more in 2017 and BrewDog have announced plans to build a separate and segregated sour facility, Overworks, in Ellon, to be headed up by Richard Kilcullen, former head of sour production at American brewery Wicked Weed. Great news for fans of these types of beers.

Tooling Up 

If last year saw breweries scaling up, this year we will see breweries tooling up. Expect your Twitter Instagram feed filled with breweries taking delivery of whirlpools, centrifuges, lactic acid tanks, yeast propagators, canning lines (more on that later). Why? All in the name of improving quality, consistency and efficiency. This is important for the breweries as with all the choice out there, drinker’s tolerance for a beer that is not quite up to snuff is wearing thin.

Festival Fever

Craft beer festivals are mirroring the growth of the breweries they promote – scaling up and tooling up. The traditional craft beer festival catered for beer geeks, bringing together a select number of breweries who usually bring key personnel as well as a selection of core and experimental beers. Like-minded people mill about comparing beers and using it as a chance to catch up. There remains a big place for these types of festivals, but new ones will emerge. More focused festivals on types of beers (think HopCity), regions and breweries, as well as big events targeting mainstream punters offering an experience – something millennials supposedly value above all else.

The festival making the biggest splash is The Beavertown Extravaganza (great to see that word featured here), which promises to be massive, bringing together a huge array of the world best and hippest craft brewers and will also serve at the launch of the 2016 Rainbow Project beers too. But it has caused a splash in that it will clash with the Leeds International Beer Festival. My view is that there is room for all of these festivals. While the craft beer enthusiast will struggle to attend all (maybe 2017 is the year of FOMO management for the craft beer enthusiast), it should hopefully see craft beer expand into a wider audience.

Small Pack

Last year saw a point of inflection in beer buying patterns in the UK with off-trade purchase of beer exceed on-trade purchase of beer for the first time. This clearly translates to a big an opportunity for brewers to focus on packaging in bottles and cans for off trade distribution. We are already seeing some trends emerge for smaller bottles (Thornbridge moved to 330ml from 500ml), bigger cans (Magic Rock have released a number of beautifully designed 500ml cans in late 2016, Cloudwater landed on 440ml cans for their move to canning) and multipacks (BrewDog sell in multipacks and I have recently seen Five Points selling their cans as six packs at OddBins in West Hampstead). And I expect to see this continue in 2017.

Whilst talking of cans, one odd trend is the 360 degree, or topless can, that London Beer Factory are currently using. Unsure how widely this one will spread.

Re-branding (Visual Identity)

In an increasingly competitive market having a distinct visual identity is one way to stand out. We have seen a number of traditional breweries re-branding in 2016 to appeal to younger, craft oriented drinkers. In 2017, I believe we will see a number of craft breweries follow the lead of Redchurch Brewery and review their visual identity. Redchurch launched a new site in Harlow, refreshed their beer recipes and brewing techniques and announced their Urban Farmhouse brewery at their existing site in Bethnal Green. This resulted in a desire for a fresh look to go with it. We’ve already seen Beavertown move away from their original ‘B in a triangle’ and go full skull in 2017. Will BrewDog continue their look as they launch in the US, the Lone Wold distillery and the Overworks sour facility? My money is to expect a new look from them this year.

Merch Alert

2017 will be the year of merchandising. While breweries have dabbled in cheap t-shirts, badges and glassware, this year we will see more focus and quality in the merchandise breweries are willing to put their name to. Some breweries are really well positioned with a brand and visual identify that, if done well, would shine in a range of quality merchandise.


While many believe that a rising tide lifts all boats, in a competitive market, there will be winners and losers. Sadly we will see some breweries close. I would think this will likely be breweries that don’t have the resources, ability, or passion to continue. Smaller local breweries without; a taproom, strong link to their community, quality beers, ability to scale and social media presence will be most likely at risk. I don’t think we will see any large scale failures however.


Not in the traditional sense of breweries collaborating with each other, but collaborations across industries. This links to a Three Bullet Friday post I did last December. Think collaborations with coffee roasters, restaurants / chefs, sporting bodies (think local football teams, cycling brands, running clubs etc), music labels / brands / festivals (could we see a beer brewed usual wild yeasts found at Glastonbury?). This helps bring craft beer to a broader audience by looking at where beer drinkers’ interests overlap with other interests and vice versa.

That’s my views, looking forward to hearing some of yours.