Sunday, 17 January 2021

Brewdog's 10 biggest mistakes

After listening to the soft hitting interview on Radio 4 and reading capitalist brewery owner James Watt's humblebrag about his 10 biggest mistakes I got to wondering what are really Brewdog's 10 biggest mistakes?

I was an early fan of Brewdog, back in the day when I had to go to specialist beer shops to find their beers. I can remember when they first got a beer in a supermarket and I've watched their growth ever since. Having said that, I also went off Brewdog early on, once I realised they were twats. 

What first pissed me off can't really be called one of their biggest mistakes, as they've done very well out of it, but selling off a very small part of their company to their fans, and then selling off a larger chunk at a lower price to venture capitalists seemed an incredibly cynical move. 

Having tits on a beer bottle was definitely a mistake though, as it rapidly vanished from their website:

I don't remember them getting much flak for it, perhaps because they managed to hide it so quickly. But then  I don't remember them getting much flak for this one either:

Which is certainly as bad, if not worse, than that awful CAMRA young members' leaflet that had everyone up in arms.

The second biggest mistake I think they made was when they dobbed themselves in to the Portman group to generate some publicity. Putting the whole brewing industry at risk of greater regulation for their own personal gain is a dick move, even more so when they duped Zak Avery into writing stuff to support them. Arseholes. 

The general drivel about them being somehow different from any other bunch of capitalist bastards trying to separate you from your cash also grates, but it's hard to pin down a specific mistake as it permeates their marketing output. In fact, I can't be arsed to look any closer, or indeed keep going with singling out any of their many mistakes. Instead I'm going to try crowd sourcing rather than crowd funding. So here's your chance to see if we can get to 10 by putting in the comments what you think are Brewdog's biggest mistakes. 

Saturday, 2 January 2021


 At school they may try and instil in you unlikely career ambitions or even more improbable sporting dreams, but I knew I had a higher calling. I was going to be a #PubMan. 

Daddy, where do you go in the evening?

A high powered job may give you some recognition in business circles and a fleeting sporting achievement may win you some ephemeral fame but do they give you the respect, admiration and overall satisfaction that comes with being a #PubMan? I think not. 

It is not an easy path to follow. As the years, and decades, have gone by I've kept plugging away, week in, week out, pint after pint. Slowly working my may up to regular status, and when I've moved or the pub's changed for the worse find a new local and starting again. But I've not let the setbacks demoralise me and when doubts have struck (should I have gone on more pub crawls? Is only every being a compleatist for one Good Beer Guide 'county' enough?) I've pressed on. And finally after the most difficult of years I've got the recognition sought for so long. I am a #PubMan. There is no higher accolade. I will walk, and drink, with my head held higher. 

Thursday, 31 December 2020

Golden Pints 2020


The golden pints above you
Show me where you've gone
The magic in your blogs no longer
What we gaze upon
I have actually seen a couple of other people doing them this year but still. I blame twitter. I'm not stopping though!

Best UK Cask Beer:

A tragic year for cask beer as Des De Moor's diabolical plan took full effect. I have been able to have communion with the one true living beer more than most as the shop at work sells it but there's no denying that I've lacked spiritual sustenance this year. 

Best cask beer for me this year was when I managed to get a pint of Coniston Bluebird during a brief flowering of freedom. 

Best UK Keg Beer:

I've definitely suckled at the Devil's drainpipe this year as I was lead into a den of iniquity in between lock downs. I can't say that something cheesy from Magic Rock impressed but I can't think of any other UK keg beer I've drunk so that's the winner. 

Best UK Bottled Beer:

My bottled beer drinking has overwhelmingly been what I can blag from work. This is economically beneficial but I do at times pine for beers we don't bottle. Fortunately we do a wide range and the one I've most enjoyed is Ridgeway Very Bad Elf. 

Best UK Canned Beer:

Thanks to an xmas pressie I've drunk a UK canned beer this year. The winner is: Gipsy Hill Hepcat. Definite grapefruit taste. Craft.  

Best Overseas Draught:

Not that I've been abroad this year but whilst being dragged round dens on iniquity in London I was able to avoid harm to my immortal soul in one by sticking to foreign beer from the Devil's drainpipe, which is not haram on account of their different brewing traditions. Even if they are heathen. Ayinger Keller beer was the winner in question.  

Best Overseas Bottled Beer:

Not wanting to die with a full beer cellar when the plague struck the first casualty was that bottle of Obadiah Poundage porter I'd been saving. Very good it was too. 

Best Overseas Canned Beer:

Another tricky one as the only overseas canned beer I think I've had didn't impress, still the winner it has to be: To Øl Gose To Hollywood, bit and all.

Best collaboration brew:

Sticking to ripping off Robbie I'll go with the Obadiah Poundage.

Best Overall Beer:


Best Branding:

Not really my thing this so I'll just go with whatever Too Much Black Coffee have done for Thurstons again. . 

Best UK Brewery

Got to be Coniston. 

Best Overseas Brewery

ABInBev Goose Island. 

Best New Brewery Opening 2020:

Can't think of one.

Pub/Bar of the Year:

The Crown of course. 

Best New Pub/Bar Opening 2020:

Can't think of one of these either. 

Beer Festival of the Year:

I might cry now

Supermarket of the Year:

I don't really buy bottled or canned beer now as I can blag bottles from work. I did do some stocking up when I was near a Booths though which makes them the winners. 

Independent Retailer of the Year:

I think the only one I've been to is Cobbett's Real Ale so them. 

Online Retailer of the Year:

Not my sort of thing either.  

Best Beer Book or Magazine:

Again copying Rob, but really nothing else comes close: Historical Brewing Techniques: The Lost Art of Farmhouse Brewing by Lars Marius Garshol. I really should do a review. 

Best Beer Blog or Website:

I'm getting very much behind on beer nerdery nowadays. Barely blogging, and not reading them like I used to either. There is a winner though, and despite the dire situation it's a  pub blog: retired martin's

Simon Johnson Award for Best Beer Twitterer:

This year I'm going with Alan of A Good Beer Blog fame, he informs, educates and entertains. 

Wednesday, 16 December 2020

A visit to French and Jupps maltings

As there's not much chance to visit places at the moment I made the most of it when business took me to French and Jupp's maltings as they were kind enough to give me a socially distanced tour. The company has been on the same site for over a century, though some of the buildings are now let out as offices and industrial units. 

French and Jupp's originally made old style brown malt shipped down to London for porter brewing, they later made white malts but now only make coloured (i.e. crystal and roasted) malts. 

They have drum maltings where the whole drum rotates during germination to prevent the rootlets of the grains tangling. If I remember rightly they were built for 10 tonnes but they now fill them with 18 tonnes of barley, slightly larger than the ones I used to work with

The green (i.e. unkilned) malt goes to roasting drums where gentle moist heat allows enzymes inside the grain to convert starch to sugar before the temperature is raised and moisture reduced to crystallise the sugar and make crystal malt and cara malts. 

The roasting drum (a modified coffee roaster) below was used to make roasted malts though (e.g. amber, brown, black). 

The malt for these comes from steeping vessels that make chit malt (i.e. malt that has only just had a rootlet emerge from the grain husk) which is then kilned dry before going to the roaster. 

The temperature in a roasting drum can come close to combustion temperature (and even exceed it at times!) so colour development can be rapid and frequent sampling is required. 

Grains cut in a farinator

Chocolate malt

The temperature has to be reduced by spraying on water before the desired colour is achieved as some colour development continues during cooling. 

Old floor maltings

This last picture was taken from a footbridge over the canal that barges full of brown malt used to start their journey to London on. 

Saturday, 17 October 2020

Beer and bugs

 As every beer blogger knows getting free beer is the easiest thing in the world. Though breweries might grizzle about it, threaten them with a bad review and they're sending you a case of beer as fast as their little legs can carry it. But despite this due to my insatiable greed I immediately said yes when offered a Hobgoblin beer and bugs snack pack

Hobgoblin is a bit is a bit of a bogeybeer to crafties, and at one point there was a bit of a twitter thing of people mocking those that dared to say they liked it. I'm not entirely sure why, though it might well be due to Hobgoblin having a well know advert that does a bit of mocking itself: "What's the matter lagerboy, afraid you might taste something?". Crafties being at heart lager drinkers themselves no doubt feel slighted. 

I'm not a huge fan myself, though back in the days when I had to buy beer I did enjoy more than a few bottles of the Hobgoblin IPA, which predictably was also treated with distain by the craftily inclined. I was thinking about this again recently when I saw established breweries worried about falling cask beer sales being told that they need to update their beer range. After all, when established breweries have branched out into the craft sector it has always been greeted with universal acclaim. 

The bug bit really interested me though. Over the years I've heard a few things about eating insects but have never done it myself. Well, not deliberately anyway. There were of course beer and bug matching suggestions so I worked my way through both:

Hobgoblin Gold with with chilli and lime crickets. The beer was a bit of a disappointment as it mostly tasted of diacetyl. Personally I don't mind a bit of it but this was too much for me. The crickets were very spicy but certainly tasted better than they looked. 

The IPA  was hoppier and all the better for it, but disappointingly still a noticeable level of diacetyl. I found the Peri peri crickets spicy but milder than the last packet, still pretty full on though. 

Ruby next, didn't notice any diacetyl this time just the burnt sugar taste. As I said, I'm not a huge fan but it did grow on me. The smoky BBQ crickets taste like you expect, but like the others the flavouring is laid on too thick. Overall they could do with toning it down a bit. And they need to do something about the legs. After munching through a bag of crickets you notice you've got lots of insect legs stuck to your teeth. 

Finally it was on to King Hobgoblin, the stronger one. The greater strength definitely improved it, and it reminded me of Old Peculier. The toffee crickets were really good,  clearly desert insects work! I'd overdosed a bit on insects by this point so most of them went in my muesli the next morning. 

I found the beer and bug thing really interesting, and I'll be eating more in the future, particularly as I've still got some more to cook.

They'll probably go in a cricket and grasshopper curry. There was also a packet of insect protein powder. I'm not sure what to do with that one, maybe my brother will want it, it might be the sort of thing he's in to. 

Sunday, 27 September 2020

Postmodernism - is it bollocks?

 I read with interest Lily Waite's recent blog post about beer and postmodernism. It's well written (even if some of the history is wrong) and I was able to follow the point being made. But at the end, to sound a little crass, I couldn't help but think so what? Beer might be described as hyperreal or a simulacra but if I've got a pint in my hand why should I care? Postmodernism might by sceptical towards reason but my reason tells me to be sceptical towards postmodernism. 

Wednesday, 23 September 2020

Keep it real

Back in the days when a brief glimmer of hope flickered for festering plague pits, I mean pubs, I visited a few with my friend Tim. He did all the planning while I just tagged along so lets see if I can work out where we went and what I drank from the pictures. 

The first one is easy: Boxcar brewery where I had a pint of keg Best Bitter. In these ecumenical times I couldn't tell by looking if it was evil keg, or if it was served from a CAMRA kosher key keg. I can speak infallibly when I say it would have been better on cask though. 

I think it was this one next: a pint of murky cask beer: 


Again our Mother Church provides no help with this one, being neutral on the use of isinglass finings. I can't help but think that not using them is slightly blasphemous though. Surely the fact that the swim bladders of certain tropical fish make an ideal raw material for clearing yeast from cask beer is so improbable it must be proof of the existence of god, even more so than bananas?

The beer was the best bitter from that London brewery all the crafties like. The name escapes me at the moment though. Five Points maybe? And even if it wasn't fined it still tasted fine. 

If I've got the order right it was something a bit different next: Ayinger Kellerbier. 

This was also served from the keg but I had no fear for my immortal soul here. They have different brewing traditions on the continent so I wasn't risking eternal damnation, I was in fact showing how cosmopolitan I am. Not sure what the pub was though.

Excellent choice of what to photograph in the next pub saved me from more embarrassment as this must surely be The Carpenters Arms. 

This was a Krays pub apparently, though a mate who lived in the East End did point out they'd probably been in most pubs in the area. I'm not going to forget what the beer was here as it was lovely, lovely Landlord, which is probably the best beer in Britain and therefore the world. 

I think it was the Well and Bucket next. We clearly went there as I've got the evidence to prove it:

We did end up in another keg only emporium at one point and this could well be it. When I were a lad confronting such a horror would have made me turn tail and take my custom elsewhere but I'm a bit more laid back nowadays. And I hadn't done the planning. It looks like more murky keg. If I remember rightly this was from Magic Rock and was a bit cheesy. I notice that a lot in beers loaded with lots of American hops but it doesn't seem to bother anyone else. 

Tim had sensibly factored in a beigel in Brick Lane before our final stop, which I'm sure you can all recognise from the special feature:

Two of my mates did when I sent them the picture anyway. Perhaps you're confused that due to refurbishment it was moved from the corridor to the gents? Anyway, it was of course The Pride of Spitalfields, one of my favourite pubs.

It was back to beer served as god intended here, with no hint of blasphemy you'll note. I think I had a Pride and an ESB, though the ESB was a bit of a waste as I was too far gone to taste much difference by then. 

We had started our research trip at midday when pubs are perhaps not their busiest but I was sad to see how empty most of them were. The only one that was at all crowded was The Pride, which I might add had the biggest cask beer range. Which just shows that for pubs cask beer is where it's at.