It’s been a long year for me, little travel and no brewing, but I have seen some amazing sights when I have been out and about. I have pondered a few things, hopes, aspirations and even an “if I win the lottery” type thing…
2011 was a year of great challenges, shifting sands and more choice when it comes to great beers. It was great to see British breweries stepping up and increasing the quality and diversity of their beers. It’s been a lagery year for me, but UK brewed memorably: Windsor & Eton Republika, Buxton Axe Edge, Dark Star numerous, Magic Rock Human Canonball, Brodies Kiwi, Redemption Big Chief. Great work chaps!
Things I would like to see in 2012
- I really want to see more collaboration, city wide, or just two local breweries. Sometimes I think UK brewers look at the US brewerying social schema out of the corner of their eye. Maybe it’s just a British thing, something we’re expected to leave at primary school, the idea of playing/working together. Get over it, invite people in, homebrewers, pro-brewers, your favourite brewer in France, Italy, Germany or the US. Do it! now… get on the phone, internet and do something about it! (BrewWharf Collab with Toccalmatto and Redemption with Mikkeller, I hope is just the start of it!)
- Getting rid of the High Strength Beer Duty. Nuff said.
- UK small brewery Keg: I am really hoping that keg or one-way keg, be that KeyKeg or EcoKeg presents chance for brewers then bars to present stronger, hoppier, richer brews. Getting the general drinking populous comfortable with bigger beers and non-cask dispense, but still artisan beer, is a mountain that needs to be climbed. I want to wave bye bye to the tied keg dispense that so many pubs and bars get wrapped up in, for the sake of a cooler?
- More and more quality beer bars. Beer centric bars, with a not-too-geeky-a-leaning are a massive change in the way that we might access quality beer. Of course, then comes the onus of quality HR needs, good supply and favourable rents and leases… but they can all be worked around. Applaud those that have taken that leap and make great new beer venues open in 2011. Congrats to Emma J Cole and Tony Leonard on the opening of the Spotted Dog, and Mark with the Powder Keg Diplomacy.
- Open a MicroPub: The best thing to have happened in Kent, ever. Very few things come from Kent that can have significant influence out there in BeerLand. The “MicroPub”, probably started in it’s modern guise by the legendary Martin Hillier of the Butchers Arm in Herne. Out here in deepest Kent – the Just Reproach, The Conqueror and the Bake and Alehouse are 5, part of something larger.
- More diversification: greater experimentation or investment in away from the norm as well as historical brewing. Where have all the Old Ales gone? IPA’s?
- PR Freebies: Dear beerwriter-y types, if you get freebies please – I don’t care if you don’t tell on your blog – but, please don’t look like a soft touch. Please think about your personal brand.
- Being Unreasonable. When ever you feel like complaining about something, consider this: Creating an alternative. If you’re not happy with the status quo, do something about it. Work with a local brewery, help promote their efforts. Work with a local beer bar, help set up a micro pub. Get beer into your work place, arrange tastings. Start little tasting circle. Help spread the word! But, don’t suffer the status quo
- Homebrew. Do it. It’s the best thing ever. If you love beer, great food and find cooking easy. And, have good cleaning routines… DO IT! You’ll take a greater appreciation for the beers that you drink in the pub, or buy from beermerchants.com, than from any book, blog or tweet. Remember, support your local homebrew shop.
- Celebrating. We really need to better celebrate the true industry heroes. We need to better celebrate the brewers, landlords and out and out beer passionate people. Everyone loves a “nice job” pat on the back, so can we not bring it to ourselves? Hell, if it takes sponsors, energy etc: I’ll throw my hat in the ring? C’mon people! I asked this last year!
- Play well with others: I hope for the long term that everyone learns to play well together. For the sake of the beer….
- Websites and e-presence: If you’re business in craft beer, please please get your website straight and keep it up! There are so many out of date and just useless sites out there. We’re so connected these days and so many people just jump on the web to find out. These are your main calling card? Want justification on ROI or something? There are loads of beer savvy techies who’ll help! Email me…
- Have fun. I think I work in the greatest industry in the world. I am surrounded by amazing, passionate and committed people. We have to remain focused on what reason we got into this crazy crazy game, out and out love for the greatest beverage known to man. I want it to remain fun, exciting and always leave me with a smile on my face at the end of the day. With out you all, this would not be possible, let’s keep it that way!
A quick note; Simon Johnson, you rock!
Whilst I’m still not convinced that collaboration has found its feet yet in the UK, beyond ego-massaging in certain quarters, I think it has stacks of potential.
But I’m firmly behind #13. It’s too easy to over-complicate what should be a simple pleasure.
And I hardly rock. More likely wobble. Like an inebriated Weeble.
…would just like to add to your point about collaborative brewing and let you know that Project Venus is having its fourth collaborative brew next weekend. Hosted by Patsy Slevin at Prospect Brewery. So far we have ten brewsters lined up to attend, brew Project Venus Gold and indulge in #13. There is a great mix of people involved and there is the potential for even more interesting beers from the project http://www.facebook.com/ProjectVenusUKEire.