Thursday 15 April 2021

Class collaboration

Craft brewing is essentially a petty bourgeois movement. That is, small businesses competing against larger established companies. This regularly leads to tensions as small companies that grow turn into big companies themselves. 

The latest craft darlings to take a step beyond the pale are Cloudwater brewery, who have just done a big deal with Tesco's. This time it's been complicated by being linked to a smaller deal to stock collaborations with beer brand owners from oppressed groups. This has put a different spin on the inevitable twitter storm, but as far as I can see it's still basically business as usual. 

I was more interested in the collaborations, as the final twist is that Cloudwater aren't actually brewing the beers themselves, they're being made a Brewdog. This did get my mind boggling. What on earth does this mean? No doubt a lot of "collaborations" simply involve a recipe being emailed to a brewery, but does forwarding an email to a bigger brewery count as collaborating? Looking at Cloudwater's blog I see they also mention that their house yeast strain is used but as they've only been going seven years this also seemed a trifle irregular. Does the brewsheet just say "use US05" or is there more to it? Either way I really don't get that one either as if the yeast doesn't come out of a packet surely it only recently came from a culture collection? 

I didn't think I'd done any colabs myself, but I have had beer contract brewed and do a lot of contract brewing at the moment. Does this mean I have in fact done lots? Or does it only count if there's a press release calling it a collaboration? There's always more to learn about brewing but I suspect there is more to learn about marketing too. 

Friday 9 April 2021

Finally: The Death of Keg

It has been a difficult year for the faithful, with few opportunities to commune with the one true living beer. But take heart! I can now reveal news with will bring joy to all who revere cask beer as the pinnacle of the brewer's art: keg beer is dead!

Whilst some have spent lockdown on such frivolous pursuits as baking sour dough bread or learning foreign languages others have followed a higher calling. I can now reveal something I have been hiding for months, as it will soon become apparent to all. The opportunity presented by furlough has allowed a plan 50 years in the making to be put into effect. The order we have all prayed for was sent from a secret bunker in St Albans: the Albeergensian Crusade was launched! Like modern day St Patricks with a strange beer obsession teams of crack CAMRA commandos have been busy across the country driving keg beer from the land.

I first got wind that something was up when I noticed someone at work I didn't recognise pouring away some beer. I didn't think too much of it, sadly as a brewer you get used to seeing beer poured away.

A CAMRA commando at work

"At least it's only keg" I said. This caused the stranger to look at me quizzically. "Do you know the old man?" he replied. I was a little taken aback, but being a devout member of our Mother Church I knew this was a coded reference to Roger Protz. I made clear I'd met the great man and he'd even liked one of my tweets. At this point the stranger started applying hand sanitiser and said "I'd like to shake your hand". I of course reciprocated, using the CAMRA handshake, the secrets of which I cannot divulge. 

Having confirmed our mutual CAMRA membership the stranger was able to speak more freely and tell me how he, and others, had been working tirelessly, visiting countless breweries and destroying the evil keg. "But how can you do that? Don't people see what you're up to?" I asked. "It's the high-viz" he said. "Put on a high-viz vest and no one questions what you're doing."

And sure enough, he demonstrated just how far this could be taken as the empty kegs were decommissioned by having their spear removed before consigning them to the fiery pit. I mean scrap yard. 

Kegs awaiting execution

These will spew forth keg filth no more. 

I wish I'd been there to see shocked look on the drayman's face when he went to get some kegs now deliveries to pubs have started again. Despite what the stock list said there was not a drop of keg beer at the brewery, or indeed any kegs, a situation found across the country.

The breweries and pub companies have managed to keep a lid on the news so far, but come Monday everyone will know. When you next get down the pub, you will ask for cask.