belly button lint

After a busy few weeks, what with the GBBF and all the circus that comes with it, sat here watching the rains that have started coming down, contemplating heading out and doing some angling, waiting for my camera* to come back from the doctors – leaves me with time to put finger tips to black squares and contemplate.

Belly button lint it is not, beer is a monster of a subject and not a day goes past to remind me, show me, teach me and just shake my tree to how little I actually know about beer.      It’s been the small things that have been important to me this past week, reminding me what pleasure we can give to others by sharing, giving access and championing moments for others.  There is nothing better than a shared learning experience, collaborative working in the brewing side of my life is always an incredible experience.  Things occur, things get forgotten and things come back around – they all have influence on what we perceive and our actions.

But, beyond that…. Travel? Expanding ones horizons is always good.  Spending time around other beer passionate people?    I love you all, but, working, talking, reading and everything else that comes with beer, can get a little weary.   Yes, I have plans to visit newer spots on the world of beer, New Zealand, Australia and Japan next year are a certainty.   Revisiting Chicago, NYC and pop in and say hi to San Francisco is gonna happen this year.   Plus, I am under family orders to head to Italy, which will of course mean travelling via…?!  But that’s all certainty in beer, I know what I am going to get, where I am going to get it, see who I am going to see, with of course some detours to garner the extra, as curious as I am.

I have been looking outside, looking at my ambitions, new bits, new brews, the language, my time spent and many other things.     I have an interest in land in front of my house, albeit 17 miles of water in front, but that has a rich brewing heritage, but has homogenised down to perceivably one style of beer, perhaps five at a push. But,  why this interest, well, just because it’s not big, brassy, experiential.  Yet, there are lots of breweries, selling lots of beer, with a massive wine culture – but hasn’t migrated as far as Italy.    It’s almost slipping behind the iron curtain and seeing what others are up to, not influenced by the “American Craft Beer Movement” tm; and hopefully getting a grasp of their status, I wonder if they will change, whether an anti-american stance will prevail – who knows… but I want to find out.

Another is getting good beer, (by who’s standards I don’t know yet,) into the every-man’s hands.    I am sorry Coors, Bud, Fosters,  but your time is up. Please pack up and go home.   I can put your brewery to far more interesting use… Ok, but now seriously, you’ve got a year… lol.    But,  there is one beer brand, we all know, that draws comment through gritted teeth in certain circles;  I for one, applaud them for their efforts.  Whilst they may not be everyone’s cup of tea but I really don’t care, carry on!    Over the last few weeks, my “normal” mates, battered me with emails and “have you seen the bottle with a squirrel up its ass/arse“… it pissed me off to begin with, but then I thought… hell, I have tried for years to get them to contemplate the art/craft edge of brewing and beer, and in one fell swoop, James and Martin achieved that… of course, there is the question are they likely to get a few bottles of their latest and greatest in and I know that a couple have asked me for that beer, and/or “have they got anything else”!   I suppose the telling tale is are they getting beer into conversation, and I would wholeheartedly say yes.  Of course, you can debate whether it’s a positive message, but that’s for another day.

Acknowledging great, good and the better beers out there –  I  touched on the awards structures out there… and every day, having contact with a brewery or two, I hear about new awards schemes, local, national and international.    I suppose the nearest thing I can relate this to is supporting a football team; of course there are Man Utds, Chelsea thru Charlton and the increasingly successful Dover Athletic, near here.   We chose to support them, we follow them, we buy shit from them – yet they don’t win everything, every year – but we acknowledge that, “on their day” are as good as anyone… Milan, PSG, Ajax… you name ’em.     I guess what I am trying to say, is that we need to better acknowledge the consistently excellent breweries, on a longer term merit basis.    There are people who support Charlton at the depot, even those that support ‘Spurs… but those that follow Man Utd from London, Hong Kong…  can we not help establish, champion our great contemporary and classic breweries outwardly…  perhaps we might get a fan base for the best of UK brewing a little further afield?

Appreciation of size and effort. Being involved with the London Brewers (LondonBrewers.Org) – and having travelled so much,  people see Fullers as a monster brewery – 4.5x’s the size of Stone Brewery, Escondido, but, about half the size of Sierra Nevada!   And, into comparison with Coors at Burton… ha! 5million barrels of just Carling!      So, Fullers have more in common with my little brewery, except we don’t parti-gyle *(in house joke).  John and Derek are good people,  brewing great beers, and are out and about mixing and moving about the industry – just like smaller brewers, with exactly the same passions – but, with absolutely brilliant stories to tell.

so, all in all, what does the next 6 months, perhaps next year hold in store? What are your ambitions? what would you like to see?   What would you like to happen?

*needed, lenses are all broken, and looking for suggestions as to what to replace  them with.