All the news gleaned from the Beer industry this month…

This month in the beer industry Heavy Metal headliners have been making waves once more, one of the biggest Awards nights of the year took place in London, we discovered the worrying future of the US beer industry and Scottish brewers make the best of bad comments. 

Bruce Dickinson to headline BBPA Dinner

If you’re an honest-to-God real ale fan, like us, then you will certainly have heard of Robinson’s Trooper. This deep golden ale surprised the beer industry by becoming the brewery’s top-selling ale, more surprising was Robinson’s unusual collaborators: Heavy Metal legends Iron Maiden.

Since helping to develop and brew the beer back in 2013, the ale has  sold 15 million pints and is now sold in 55 countries. As a result, Maiden frontman, Bruce Dickinson, will be speaking at this year’s BBPA Dinner – tables can be booked at their site here.

Morning Advertiser Names Top British Pubs

The finals of The Great British Pub Awards took place earlier this month in London, with two of the top awards going to socially conscious establishment The Eagle and Child, it was clear that the the judges from the Morning Advertiser were impressed with the renovated pub.

Glen Duckett, licensee of the Lancashire based business, was blown away with the accolades and praised his staff, as well as the team of young people that he helped into employment. The Eagle and Child has built a solid reputation for hiring disadvantaged young people, including young offenders.

Millennials drink less beer

It’s official – the kids are killing the beer industry, or at least they are over in the States. Goldman Sachs downgraded the Constellation Brand (owner of Gaymer Cider Company, Modelo and Corona) and the Boston Beer Company (owner of Sam Adams Boston Lager) because of data suggesting that younger drinkers are drinking less.

When Millennials do drink, they are said to prefer spirits or wine over traditional beers. The financial giant is expecting the US beer market to decline by 0.7% in 2017.

BrewDog debuts T-shirts based on online reviews

It’s not often that a bar will want to share their bad feedback, let alone print them on their staff’s t-shirt – but that’s exactly what craft beer rebels BrewDog have done.

Cherry picking some of the less favourable reviews left on their social media channels, co-founder James Watt shared the T-shirts earlier in the month, declaring quotes such as ‘This is just a shit hipster Wetherspoons’ to be amongst the ‘best’ feedback that the Punk IPA brewers have received.

Drinks brands are well known for putting on over the top launch parties…

…complete with elaborate ice sculptures and glamorous bar tenders, they’re not often known for their subtlety.

However, this week, globally renowned beer makers Heineken made their first foray into the world of craft beer by launching two new products that they are hoping will win over ‘curious beer-drinkers’. The new brand is called Maltsmiths Brewing and both drinks are firmly aimed at wresting away the usual pints of lager away from regular beer drinkers. According to Sam Fielding, the man in charge of the new team at Heineken, 75% of the beer drinking British public are yet to branch out to the craft beers that have proven so popular in the metropolitan regions of the country.

So what makes these beers any different from the hundreds of others that are currently on the market?

Both beverages will come brightly packaged as either a 330ml bottle or can, no surprises there; you’ll also be able to find them on tap at your local (retail price is a rather steep £4.70 though). The real innovation comes from the brewers, or ‘Maltsmiths’, as they’re known. Sarah Bartels, a Heriot-Watt graduate and German-born brewer has been working with Alex Brandon-Davies, a fellow expert in the field, to develop brew beers that would appeal to fans of craft ales, in addition to those who have yet to experiment.

With Heineken’s joint takeover deal of 1900 Punch pubs throughout the UK, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the company is making a bid for a Brewdog style domination of the drinking scene. However, the new beer-maker has stated that their first step into the world of craft beers is intended to win more fans over to the drink in general, rather than their own specific brand.

“This is about getting curious beer drinkers into the category and expanding their repertoire with more flavoursome beers – which will be a springboard for them to discover beers from the 1,500 breweries in the UK. This is about supporting our customers and growing the category for the entire industry.”

Yorkshire-born Alex has been brewing with Sarah using the cutting-edge facilities at the award-winning Caledonian Brewery in Edinburgh.  Together they’ve created both the Bavarian-style Pilsner and American style IPA – the cans and bottle labels have been plastered with the copious tasting notes that the pair made whilst developing the beers, a process that took a great deal of trial and error. The Pilsner has been favoured with crisp, clean pine and citrus notes, featuring an earthy hoppy character – whereas the IPA has a caramel base with notes of tropical fruits and citrus.

“Using citrus-flavoured hops – namely Centennial, Chinook and Columbus hops – we’re hoping that drinkers will love the fuller flavours and it will be their first step into experimenting with beers from the hundreds of other breweries in the UK.”

Those eager to try out the new ales got their opportunity at the Craft Beer Rising Festival in London this February. Maltsmiths was proudly on offer at the event, along with dozens of popular brands, jostling for attention.

Ale is international.

This beautiful drink in all its beautiful varieties has fans around the world and is loved around the world.

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It is tasted around the world. It is appreciated around the world. It is absolutely a global cultural phenomenon that is sweeping across the globe. Everyone loves it and it is wise and old and brilliant! It’s like liquid Meryl Streep.

They are popular around the world, these beers.

These drinks. Such a popular drink it is, such a popular drink! So I’m always on air planes flying around the world trying to keep up with the global ale community.

I went to Paraguay and drank a Porter. I flew to Canada and drank a can-of-beer. I flew to Japan and drank a pint. I’ve done it all! I live near Liverpool which has a fantastic real ale culture, with really great pubs and really great drinks around every corner.

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It is really, truly, amazingly, unbelievably, super great!! But I often have to leave Liverpool, I have to pull myself away from the bar here in Liverpool and get out of the city and go really far away to drink and to taste and to promote and to talk about one thing: real ale.

I jump in the old banger and head out to the airport and I leave this damn country.

Now, car parking at Liverpool airport used to be a complete nightmare, but it is no longer a complete nightmare because they’ve built a flipping massive car park and their are some great ways to find cheaper parking.

So I park up and I head onto those magic metal birds and get the hell out of this country and go around the world and bloody well show everyone just how bloody great the ale is.

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One from the archives, this.

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Back in 2013 at Brouwer’s Big Wood, one beer really stood out for us when we were over in the US and that was ‘American Stupid Sexy Flanders’.

Despite the very, very, funny name. Like, an actually funny name rather than a really awful funny name as most funny name ales. Also, unlike many funny name ales, the beer was really interesting. It came from the bottle a deep, dark red, tasted a little tart but with a strong fuzz too it. It was like drinking a classic Duchesse but with rockets under it. A fantastic beer that we’ve just got a new case off. Lovely stuff!

If you have a suggestion of what should be our Beer Of The Month next month, let us know!

During the 2008 economic crash one of the only British industries which had consistent growth was the Scottish Scotch industry.

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Scotch, it transpired, hit an absolute economic boom in that period despite its traditional markets in the UK and the USA completely crashing.

Why? Because Scotch became the drink of choice in, of all places, Japan!

Small time Scotch producers managed to break into the Japanese market by pooling their resources to pack their scotch up into timber packing cases and get it shipped over to Japan. They managed to get their fine whiskeys tasted by the right people and suddenly BOOM the whisky market was changed forever. Suddenly Japan couldn’t get enough of the stuff. Suddenly the number of Whisky enthusiasts worldwide had its biggest jump in the long history of this proud drink. And all thanks to a little ingenuity and a lot of whisky and those packing cases that took that beautiful brown elixir all that way.

Now, why does that matter to us?

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We are not the campaign for exporting whisky to Japan, our focus is strictly on Ale right? Well, yes. That is completely right. But what I’m talking about is a little bit of page stealing. As in, stealing a page from their book. From the book of the Scotch people. Yes. From that book. It’s a pretty great idea, and I’m pretty excited about it. We just need to do what they did! Pool a few small brewery’s together, get them to all chip in for some timber packing cases (From Barnes & Woodhouse) and some shipping costs, and then just get that ale in the right mouths!

That is really all it takes, and it could be such a massive boon to the industry. Japan loves new things and loves the idea of old Britain and these things for some reason, so let’s give them what they want!

Let’s give them REAL ALE!

When I was young we were lucky enough to live in a nice house with a fire place that we would gather around in the winter, feeling the natural heat warm our bones.

I like that.

‘Lucky enough…’ in America they tend to say ‘we’ve been very blessed’. ‘So you grew up in a mansion in up state New York because your father was the CEO of the company that makes all the string?’ ‘Yes, we were very blessed’ or ‘Yes, I’ve been very fortunate’ but, you know… ‘we were always taught the value of money’ or ‘we weren’t spoilt’ or ‘we had to earn our keep!’ or ‘I was still working on the weekends at 16!’ oh! ‘Wow! That really is humble, it’s almost like you’re a real person!’

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Confronting and acknowledging your privilege is an uncomfortable thing to do and it is uncomfortable exactly because it is not a case of you simply being lucky or fortunate or blessed as an individual. This gives your privilege an isolation from the context that creates it. Your privilege was not simply a product of you and good fortune. It is calculated and it is cold. ‘We were very blessed’ divests you from the context in which your privilege arose. In ‘We were very blessed’ you were just one family existing on it’s own, being blessed. Especially when this is actually formed in the religious context in which it belongs this becomes completely removed from the essential relationship between the privileged and the impoverished in our world. You have a direct relationship with a God who, in their power and wisdom, has blessed you.

God did not have to take from another to bless you, he simply blessed you.

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But in the real world, in the world where your ‘blessings’ are manufactured, are produced, are given to you in abundance and deprived of others, there is no such thing as ‘blessed’.

I remember sitting by that fire, I remember feeling the warmth on my bones (now our fire holds peat and hardwood briquettes, not quite as warm or as fun, but less guilt I suppose) I remember thinking about the fire, and thinking about the wood, and thinking about the warmth and never once thinking about those out there with no fire, with no wood, with no warmth.

And never once thinking about how the structure that gives me warm bones makes theirs cold. I was lucky to be born into the life I was born into, but only because we live in such an unequal and unjust world.

The ‘luck’ of some to be born with one life and the misfortune of others to be born with another is a damning indictment of the institutionalised inequality we all now accept as normality.

I live in a rural outback that I could hold up and call the ‘heart of Britain’ or ‘Britain’s Heartland’ or ‘True Britain’.

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Or anything else insultingly reductive and exclusive.

I could look around and see cricket pitches and rolling hills and the green grass of home. I could see the Britain the officer class sent people to die for. I could see the postcard Britain that drove people to travel perilously across the world to live and work here. I could see the perfect, civilised Britain that embodies a certain sensibility and set of values. A sensibility and a set of values that made us so morally superior in the world that we had a duty to become an expansionist, military civilising power.

Because what made us a marauding army of dominance and death in many ways lies right here in the green grass peacefulness of the village. This is a well off little village. People spend money here. I live at number 5 on my street and during this week alone I saw that: Number 1 bought a new two seater sports car, number 2 re-did their garden with beautiful wooden decking, number 3 installed a brand new conservatory, number 4 went on holiday to some far flung tropical island and we, perhaps the most modestly, had some new laminate flooring for our kitchen put in. This, of course, is for our second kitchen, it would be treacherous waters indeed to have people round to see laminate flooring in our main kitchen.

We spend a lot of time in the kitchen.

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I like being in the kitchen. It’s a nice place to be. But as I was saying, this is a wealthy village and a lot of it’s wealth is not generated in the village. We are a little community sitting on the top of a massive pile of communities and we are doing very well out of the pile. A lot of the pile, in fact, but the pile’s filth and pain and chaos does not come here, not to the pristine green grass we have here. And we can forget about it whilst always remembering it and imagining that it is our manners, our green grass, our cricket and our cakes, our polite conversations in the street, that make our community so different to theirs.

But it isn’t. It’s just money and power.

‘The past is always easier to give meaning too than the present. The past has community, has unity, has purity. The presence is always a myth. ‘Where is Britain?’ you ask. ‘Where is The Nation that was once one?’. My friend, it never was. Simply put, it never was.’

Extract from the letters of an anonymous conscientious objector in exile 

We in Britain like to think in terms of what has been lost.

We have lost out past, that is the essential truth of all presents, but we like to think that this loss of our past is in fact a reduction in the existence of the nation.

In our obsessive historicism we create a past Britain that exists on a level that any present Britain cannot. We create a Britain of consistency and purity that exists holistically. Not happily, but honourably singular.  We rub out all the little imperfections on the side of every point in our societies history, and this only makes it easier to suppress and exclude the parts of our present which sit outside the perceived norm.

‘British Values’ are trumpeted. ‘British Society’ is elevated. Something which is under threat now but once was safe. Something is splitting now but once was whole. So the battle goes on, a battle against difference and any minority interest, thought or culture. So we can see threats to ‘the public’ rather than issues within the public. Threats to the nation. And we have the audacity to condemn others as demagogues and oligarchy.

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Our country side plays a big role in this, especially in the imagination of the upper classes.

The past was out there in the rolling hills, in the green grass of home. The lies we used to send people to their deaths. The encroachment of the city, of the great urban sprawl, the rotting carcass that attracts maggots and flies. This idealised rural past.

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And then there’s Real Ale. It has a horrible place sometimes, as something Nigel Farage swigs in his tweed jacket to look like a nice little harmless rural landed gentry mega prick. It’s just a drink.

A drink that’s enjoyed by all.