They Brew it, I sell it, You Drink it... and so do I..

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Peer Pressure

There's been some interesting goings on recently around one of our local pubs which seems to almost border on the Hot Fuzz-esk shenanigans. I feel the recent actions of the Far Headingley community can only be classified by the term "for the greater good."

We have a well know pub in Far Headingley - it's second on the 'Otley Run' and is called The Three Horseshoes. It's stood in it's location for many many years, probably about a thousand... (not actually sure, but it feels like a thousand years when some people talk about it!)

The pub recently changed hands and this was the scene I observed when coming back from the deli one afternoon;

Crap quality photo I know, but you might just be able to make out that the name changed to the Industrialist - a pub that was going to push "All day food, Live sports and Craft beer" once the referb was completed.

This obviously had mouths agape and tongues started wagging whilst fingers pointed and heads shook... you get the gist. I personally thought it was a bit silly, but held some silent optimism and waited for opening night.

Now I was too busy to pop in for a pint on opening night but assumed it went down well. About a week later me and some friends decided to go check it out only to find the doors locked and closed. Without seeing any explanation I didn't think much else of it until I saw this tweet from Greg Mulholland;

@GregMulholland1: Well done & thanks @SpiritPubCo for listening to the #FarVillage community & re-renaming the #ThreeHorseshoes!

The tweet had these two accompanying photos:

There it was, plain as day.. the name had changed back to The Three Horseshoes.

Now some of these women in the photo come in the shop from time to time and I see the rest of them out and about in Far Headingley a lot. I'm pretty confident when I say that I'm 99% sure that they do not drink in the shoes. I'm also pretty confident in saying that I'm 99% sure that these were the only people who will have complained about the name change.

I knew the Far Headingley community had a lot of power behind them, but for all of this to go down in the space of 2 maybe 3 weeks is very surprising to me.

All this pushed to one side for the moment though, name aside the referb is a vast improvement to the place. We went in for burgers and beers the other night and had to go back the very next day as the quality was that good. Call it what you want, surely it's the quality that matters the most?

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Enjoy By

I'm not sure I fully understand brewers need to put an 'Enjoy By' date on their beers instead of a best before date... What the hell (as a retailer) are we supposed to do with these beers if they pass this date? Treat them as out of date? Because they certainly seem to be without a BBD if they have an Enjoy By..

It seems to be a phrase creeping into a lot of pale ales and IPAs at the moment and its seeming to annoy me a little. Why not just use the phrase 'Drink Fresh' and stick to a best before date?

Maybe I'm making mountains out of mole hills, but as a retailer if you send me a pallet of beer with only three months to sell it, you're either totally convinced in your product to stand out against all competition - to sell out just like that, or oblivious to said competition at all!

Is an extra couple of months really going to make that much of a difference to the taste of your beer? If so maybe you need to think about making a beer that isn't so focused on just the hops. There's another three ingredients in beer too! We all know that hop deterioration does exist, but I've never been shown any sort of time scale for this phenomenon much less pair two of the same beers made one month apart...  I'd really be interested to know if someone had tried a beer that was five months old in the bottle compared to a beer that was one month in the bottle. Honestly tell me you'll be able to tell the difference, cos I bet you wouldn't be able to - unless your mind totally convinced you otherwise!

Forget the Enjoy By, forget even the Drink Fresh! Just stick to a best before date (which let's face it, unless you're making a wheat beer doesn't matter at all)

And how about you all stop making beer which you know will lose half it's flavour a couple of months after it's been produced... It's not a realistic time scale to sell your product!

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Yeah, but.....

We're starting to see a little bit of a trend forming at the moment whereby a brewery will take one of their well know beers, basically double the strength of it and release it as a limited edition, special beer. I don't see this as a hard thing to do. Upping the abv of a beer is an easy task for an experienced brewer. Charging twice as much for the beer, at the end of the day, is a bit of a marketing ploy. And a clever one at that, don't get me wrong!

Let's look at some of the recent examples that've come through the shop over the past few months:

William's Brothers Joker & Double Joker
Buxton Imperial Black & Battle Horse
Buxton Axe Edge & Double Axe
Ilkley Mary Jane & Mary Jane IPA
Pressure Drop Bosko & Bosko Absoluto
Magic Rock Cannonball & Un Human Cannonball

I'm sure there are more, but asked for the beer I'm drinking right now; It's that well talked about Jaipur X. It's a beer they brewed to celebrate their 10th birthday, and rightly so, I'm not saying don't celebrate. What I will say is though that I personally think there's about 75% of these amped-up beers that don't work because of their increased abvs..! They seem too big for their own good. The alcohol masks the flavours with a prickly warming heat which distracts from what the beer was in the first place.

I can foresee a few coming in the current year as well...

Siren Soundwave & Ultrasonic
Weird Beard 5 O'clock Shadow & 10 O'clock Shadow
Beavertown Gamma Ray & Quasar Beam
Wild Beer Co Madness & Beyond Madness
Red Willow Ageless & Deathless
Roosters Baby Faced AssassinBabygesichtige Attentäter

Ok, maybe these are a bit far fetched, but are they though?? I think the problem lies in the fact that if you have such a good beer to begin with, why would you want to mess with it? When you have a beer that's so well know, so well loved, there's going to be a few things to happen when you make it stronger..

On the one hand you're going to get the beer nerd die hards who'll say yeah, it's good, but it's not as good as the original. Hashtag 'not my beer!' totes..

On another hand you'll get people saying, yeah it's really good, I really like it, but it's completely different.. Why didn't they just package it as something else...

And then you'll have the beige group who'll just stump at the cash without having an opinion because it's what everyone else is buying.

For me it's not progression.. Of course you should, and need to pay homage to the past, but it's not moving forward. Love the beers you've made, respect them, keep them alive and move on. It's not forgetting them! Jaipur X is a really nice beer, (go out and buy it, you should!) but I'd prefer a pint of regular Jaipur and set my lustful eye on their Bamberg Smoked Bock that's coming out soon. That for me is progression.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Beer "Hype"

We've been having discussions in the shop recently about a phenomenon which I'm going to call Dark Lord-itis. We feel that some breweries are making one off beers and creating such a hype about them on social media that by the time they're put on the shelves they're already sold out! And some of the time these beers in question aren't even very good! (but that's another blog all together..)

A current example I can call on is Beavertown's Bloody Ell Orange IPA. We had people asking us for this beer over twitter weeks before we got any in.. It's a beer we got in yesterday (Thursday) and in under 20 hours we sold out of all three cases we received. More are coming, but they won't last long. That's 72 cans, if you look at our five best selling products (not just beers) for those twenty hours it seems pretty ridiculous;

1- Beavertown Bloody Ell cans - 72
2- Beavertown Gamma Ray cans - 22
3- Carlsberg Lager cans - 16
4- Roosters Fort Smith cans - 15
5- Beavertown Neck Oil cans - 14

These are our five best sellers for the past twenty hours in a shop that has around 1000 items. Just let that sink in....

Another few breweries that have had a similar beers pull at people's heart strings only just recently are as follows;

Magic Rock Un-Human Cannonball
Buxton Double Axe
Roosters Baby Faced Assassin
The Rainbow Project Beers

I'm sure there are plenty more but don't even get me started on Thornbridge X which will be hitting our shelves next week. People have been asking after that for over a month!

The thing is I've not really come to a conclusion if Dark Lord-itis is a good thing or not.. I guess time will tell. If there is one thing I know for absolute certainty though, it's this - If you're going to make a limited edition beer, there will always, always, be some people left disappointed.

I think a future blog post will be focussing on when exactly did the hype created by twitter outweigh the quality of a beer...

Monday, 9 February 2015

Foreign Export Orval

After dabbling back in blending beers again recently, it seems I'm not the only one.. I've been inspired by Boak & Bailey's Orval blending over the last few weeks and thought it time to try one of my own, so here goes!

One bottle of Orval, one bottle of Partizan Foreign Export Stout, all in one glass!

You'd think a big punchy 8+% Stout would dominate the meager comparison of Orval's 6.2%, but it seemed to do the opposite! The sweet hay like Bretty flavours were really at the forefront of the drink, and the big roasted Stout flavours came in the finish.

You get all the flavours of Orval, and they are complimented by a big boozy, roasted punch in the finish. This could be because of the heavier nature of the Stout and it sinking a little beneath the Orval.. We'll have to see at the end of the glass!

For now though, I'm thoroughly enjoying this mix and am thinking of others I could do! After all I do work in a place full of possibilities....