Thursday, 22 January 2015

Hosting a Brewery Tour

As a beer geek I've been on many brewery tours... from London Fields back when it was tiny, all the way to Adnams which is not so small.

I think it's fair to say that from a combination of this and my love of beer, that I know a fair bit about the stuff.

I remember when Redwell Brewery first opened, it was much smaller than it is now and I was given a kind of informal tour of the brewery... this was two years ago.

Two years on I'm working at Redwell, it's much bigger and now I'm doing the tours.

I am actually hosting brewery tours. I've done two so far and coming into the brewery on a Saturday to educate people about craft beer and most importantly our beer, brewery and future plans excites me.

Seeing people have their first taste of Steam Lager, their eyes lighting up, the 'woah, I didn't know lager could taste like this' factor, to me is exciting and it's what I live for.

Then comes even more excitement when I tell people that we can sample unfiltered, fresh as hell beer straight from the tank... on Saturday it was our India Pale Lager that was ready to drink. This 5.5% hopped to hell and back, yet cool, crisp and refreshing lager is the one beer of ours I now drink most of and as I poured glass after glass and handed them to people I heard gasps... I felt everyone's excitement and happiness. I had a room full of people who had never met before engaging in conversation about how downright amazing this beer was.

It just makes me feel so happy and it's hard to put it into words... just doing something awesome for people, making them feel special and privileged as they get to take a glimpse into what we're doing, and getting to taste beer in the vessel it's lagering in. Seeing people walk away knowing that they've learned something, and seeing the smiles on their faces.

What's more is that I'm making friends out of my job... people who have come to my first tour are following me on twitter, suggesting going out to dinner or for drinks.

It's amazing and I love my job!


*Photo Credit to my good friend James Wilson. He's an amazing photographer!

Sunday, 4 January 2015

A small crawl in London

I had Friday off work so I decided to go to London for a few beers since Emily had to work. I'd not done a proper London pub crawl in ages so it was rather nice, I got to drink some beers that I otherwise wouldn't tried.

I started off in Craft Beer Co Covent Garden (which, btw, isn't really in Covent Garden) with a half pint of the Siren/Beavertown/Magic Rock collaborative beer Rule of Thirds. It's 6.4% and pours golden with a fluffy white head, it's full of grapefruit, blood orange, mango & peach flavours and was really delicious.

The bar itself is brilliant... one long bar with 45 beers on draught. Most of these are keg, but there were around 10 cask beers (about a third of these were Thornbridge so not that varied). It's very bright upstairs, windows all around allowing you to look at the busy passersby. There was also a small smoking area out the front which made me happy as I could take my drink with me, unlike many craft beer bars. Downstairs is The Lounge, which is dark and beautiful. They also serve burgers, but I didn't have one this time. They all sound amazing though.

I then decided to have another beer, which was Siren Haunted Dream, a pumpkin porter at 6.5% and possibly my favourite pumpkin beer ever. Straight up you could smell the spices and chocolate so I couldn't wait to take a sip... yum. Chocolate, coffee, spices. I could have drunk two pints!

I then walked to the first craft beer bar I'd ever been to, many years ago, The Euston Tap, which I'm sure I've written about before. As soon as I got there I knew I needed to try the Lagunitas Hop Stoopid at 8%. Big, boozy, sweet and fruity. I loved it but I'm glad I only got a half as it was a little hop sticky. Next was Founders Breakfast Stout (8.3%) which was basically breakfast... chocolate coated oatmeal with coffee on the side. I'd  had this bottled before but keg was even better. I needed something lighter next, before I headed out, so I plumped for an old favourite - Maisels Weiss... a perfect hefeweizen.

Next was Brewdog Camden, again it's a favourite. The ante was upped here when I saw Alesmith Speedway Stout on keg... this beast is from California, is 12% and cost £5.05 for a third of a pint, expensive but a rarity. Was it worth the price? Well I enjoyed it. The true tradition of imperial stouts being chocolate and coffee, this had all of that but without the insanely booziness that such strong beers often deliver. My good friend Boggle then arrived and got himself a beer, so I got another... it was a collaboration beer from Brewdog and the legendary Weihenstephaner, India Pale Weizen. The whole idea was to create a hefeweizen but hop it to fuckery like an IPA. It was good but I'd take Schneiderweiss Tap 5 Mein Hopfenweiss over it anyday when I want a hoppy wheat beer. Next came Stone Sprocketbier, a black rye kolsch which was certainly interesting with spicy rye and chocolate notes working well together. Andrew then arrived and we got more beers... I went for Dead Pony Club which has long been a favourite and these days I think I'd even prefer drinking it to Punk IPA.

We finished at The Black Heart where we met Jonny from Craft Beer Channel and to be honest, I don't remember what I drank and nor do I care because I was having a great time with good friends.

It was a really nice day out and I do need to get back to London more often.


Sunday, 21 December 2014

#12BeersOfXmas Day One - Stewart Weiss Christmas Blanc

Alright, my advent calendar didn't quite work out did it? I know I've posted before but apologies, I was a little busy. I'm still busy, I have stuff to do, but I really want to do 12 beers of Xmas to support my buddy Steve at The Beer O'Clock Show.

Him and Mark run a brilliant podcast that I was lucky enough to guest on once (until my battery died and I had no charger) and I'm looking forward to doing it again one day.

Yesterday was day one and I picked Stewart Brewing Weiss Christmas Blanc (4.7%, Edinburgh). We'd shared a few bottles of this in the office as they were nice enough to send us a bunch of samples when we bought a couple of pallets from them, and I enjoyed it but on cask it really is even better.

So this beer is a German style Hefeweizen with added spices, in the spirit of Christmas. To be honest, I think it was a genius move to brew a Christmas Wheat Beer because nobody else seems to do it - Christmas beers all tend to be fairly dark.

It pours like you'd imagine a Hefe to pour... cloudy with a solid head (man, this beer is a master for head retention. Love hefe yeast). On the nose you get big bubblegum, cloves and allspice. When you take a sip, this all comes through brilliantly, with added spices and those foam banana penny sweets we all ate as a kid.

Overall, this is a brilliantly balanced spiced wheat beer from a genuinely exciting brewery. I've been incredibly impressed by Stewart because they're an exciting brewery whose brewers know exactly what they're doing!

This was drunk at Mash Tun in Norwich and I couldn't just have one pint.


Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Golden Pints 2014

2014 has been absolutely mammoth for me for two reasons in particular; firstly, I fell in love with a beautiful lady called Emily. She's amazing and means everything to me; and secondly, I finally got myself a job in the beer industry, at Redwell Brewery in Norwich. I've been drinking Redwell beers since the beginning and I've known everyone involved since way before it started so I was so happy when they offered me a job. Basically what I'm doing is covering all aspects of social media, marketing, promotions, events, beer festivals amongst other things. I've been here about a week and a half now, and it's just awesome! I'm so happy to be working in an industry that I love, with some really awesome people who I call friends.

Anyway, I do Golden Pints every year and it's always so difficult because I drink a ridiculous amount of beer. Probably too many beers. I'll give it a crack, though, as always.

Best UK Cask Beer: Oakham Citra (again) - Seriously, I have no reason to choose any other cask beer. This is probably because these days, I don't drink enough of them and when I do it's almost always Citra.

Best UK Keg Beer: Magic Rock Cannonball - Realistically, if this is on in a pub I am going to order it. No question.

Best UK Bottled or Canned Beer: This is a toss up between Beavertown Gamma Ray (can) & Fourpure IPA (can) - Both are incredibly juicy and delicious.

Best Overseas Draught Beer: Tbh, I'm gonna go with Lagunitas IPA again. It's just brilliant, widely available and reasonably priced. I can't get enough of it.

Best Overseas Bottled or Canned Beer: Three Floyds Zombie Dust. I bought a few bottles from Mikkeller's webshop earlier this year. I require more.

Best Collaboration Brew: Adnams/Sixpoint Make It Rain - An American IPA brewed exclusively for Wetherspoons and incredible. It rained down my throat many times.

Best Overall Beer: It's gotta be Three Floyds Zombie Dust. GIVE ME MORE.

Best Branding, Pumpclip or Label: Love Weird Beard's branding because I could never grow a beard as weird as the ones on the labels.

Best UK Brewery: Beavertown. They just do everything right.

Best Overseas Brewery: Sierra Nevada - they manage to get every style they do right and their Kellerweis has made me especially happy.

Best New Brewery Opening 2014: Was Fourpure first opened this year? Probably not but that's when I discovered them and I love them.

Pub/Bar of the Year: The Swan in Stratford St Mary's. I went twice this year, first on The Craft Wanker Day Trip and secondly for dinner with Emily on a trip away. Everything about this pub is amazing.

Best New Pub/Bar Opening 2014: The Mash Tun, Norwich. 15 keg lines, a hop infuser, 4 handpumps, loads of great spirits and Harbercue cooking American inspired smoked meats. Not to mention the soon-to-open Gin Palace upstairs which will have over 150 gins and infusions!

Beer Festival of the Year: London Craft Beer Festival was great... it allowed me to try so many beers that I otherwise wouldn't have had access to.

Supermarket of the Year: Waitrose - I don't get there often but when I do I'm always impressed by the selection.

Independent Retailer of the Year: Harper Wells, Norwich. Although predominantly a wine shop, Brian (with the help of Redwell's distribution arm) has turned it into the number one place to buy bottled and canned craft beer in Norwich.

Online Retailer of the Year: Ales By Mail - I think I've used them more than any other online retailer this year.

Best Beer Book or Magazine: Although not 100% beer, I really enjoyed The Enlightened Imbibers Guide to Alcohol by The Thinking Drinkers.

Best Beer Blog or Website: I always enjoy reading Chris Hall's blog:

Best Beer App: Untappd, obviously. How else would I know what I've drunk before?

Simon Johnson Award for Best Beer Twitterer: Without a doubt it's Michael McGrorty. If we lived closer we'd be the best mates ever and hang out all the time.

Best Brewery Website/Social media: Redwell because I'm their social media guy and I'm awesome.

Food and Beer Pairing of the Year: De Dolle Oerbier with Game Pudding at The Swan.


Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Bullitt at the Ten Bells

Alright, I haven't kept up with my advent calendar because I've had other things to do, but it's cool. I imagine I'll get back on it soon... rest assured that I've still been drinking all the beer!

Anyway, last Friday manager of Ten Bells in Norwich, Richard, invited me and a guest along to sample Bullitt's new menu along with the winter cocktail menu.

Obviously my guest was my beautiful girlfriend Emily, because who else would I take?!

We arrived at 7:30pm and were shown to our table by Richard who left us to peruse the cocktail & food menus. After a while another member of staff came over to take our first cocktail orders - I went for a Cold Buttered Rum which was incredible - it was so smooth with the rum and spices coming through perfectly. Emily went for something a little different - I forget what it's called but it was marvellously sour and bitter with a little sweetness.

Our food orders were taken - I got Pork on Pork while Emily got the only suitable option for her as she doesn't eat meat, Taiwanese style hirata buns with pickled ginger, Asian style slaw and marinated salmon. Both came with fries, mine were hilariously massive King Chips whilst Emily's came with sweet potato fries.

My pork on pork was really something special - both hot & cold pork with mint & chorizo jam in a homemade bun. As I took my first bite I was in awe - the pork was perfectly tender with the cold & hot pork complimenting each other, a little spice coming in from the chorizo with a cooling mint finish. I will eat it again, for sure!

Emily's steamed buns with salmon was damn good too... I'd never had a steamed bun before but I will be having them again! The salmon was really nice and done differently to what I've had before with the slaw giving it a nice kick!

We had a few more cocktails including the Black Jack & The Chaplin Revue which as always were outstanding.

All in all, we had an awesome evening and will definitely be returning!

Thanks to Richard at Ten Bells & Bullitt for the free food and cocktails!

You can get cocktails at Ten Bells every day but Bullitt are only there Friday - Sunday... GO ASAP!


Friday, 5 December 2014

Advent Calendar Day 5 - Helsingborgs Kaffestout

So day 5 now, and my second day at Redwell Brewery as Marketing Manager and it's a beer from a strange land since David Jones is back. This is a beer he has been brewing at Helsingborg Brewery in Sweden.

Brewery: Helsingborgs
Beer: Kaffestout
ABV: 8.5%
Style: Coffee Stout
Country: Sweden
Where I drank it: Redwell Brewery

Look: Pitch black with a large tan head that sticks around for a while.

Aroma: Coffee, coffee and more coffee! Woah.

Flavour: Sweet black coffee with a handful of spiky hops.

Mouthfeel: Silky smooth, so drinkable.

Overall: I absolutely love this beer. It's ridiculously drinkable and delicious and I want more!



Advent Calendar Day 4 - Adnams Wild Hop

As I've mentioned before, Adnams are one of my favourite British breweries. They may be fairly traditional with Southwold Bitter and Broadside, but head brewer Fergus proves that he can use lashings of hops and brew new world style beers time and time again.

To be honest though, i rarely buy their bottled or canned beers (other than Ghost Ship) because here in Norwich I'm guaranteed to find their beers on cask and keg everywhere.

They did, however, contact me a couple of weeks ago asking if I wanted to try their two new beers to write about and here's the first one...

Brewery: Adnams
Beer: Wild Hop
ABV: 4.8%
Style: Amber Beer
Country: England
Where I drank it: At home

Wild Hop Amber Beer is a very awesome idea. What Adnams did was put feelers out into the internet to essentially crowd source wild hops, as well as ones that people had been growing in their gardens. Due to this, it's rather interesting as the hops used are basically unspecified - they could be any variety and mixture of British hops.

Look: Pours a dark amber with a fizzy white head that disappears quickly.

Aroma: On the nose you get grassiness, and citrus bitterness with a bit of toasted brown bread in the malt.

Flavour: Light bready grains, a bit floral, lashings of citrus, candied orange peel, a peppery spiciness and a long, lasting bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Sharp and prickly, but gets smoother as it goes down.

Overall: It's an interestingly delicious beer - due to the different types of hops used, you get so many different qualities. I'd highly recommend buying a bottle or two, especially if you're a hop freak.

You can buy it in all Adnams Cellar & Kitchen shops by the bottle, or online by the case. It's also available on cask in select pubs: