Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Biere de Garb

Gratuitous half-naked girls
For those of you that haven't met me, I have the pleasure and the privilege to run The Rake, a box that kinda purports to be a speciality beer bar. You'd think that Utobeer would have got someone who's outgoing and interesting but if you read this blog on a regular basis you'll know that I'm really quite dull.
There are simple pleasures that I enjoy such as spending time with my wife, enjoying the odd glass of beer(or 5!), watching cricket with my friends, collecting baseball caps(yes you read correctly) and wearing beery apparel.

Yep, I'm one of the saddo's that wears beer t-shirts and baseball caps and thinks they're cool, although you'll have to ask my mate The Fashion Detective if it's true!
I have round about twenty-five baseball caps of which 13 are currently beer/brewery ones and I also own about 50 t-shirts of which 26 are beer ones. When Mrs RBF and I went to San Francisco I took one baseball cap with me and came back with 7! I also bought a few t-shirts over there(brewery and bar ones of course). So sad. But then I've always been like that, if it's free it's cool, just ask the people that get sent free beer.
yes...I'm naked.
There's a mixture of gifts and purchases, sometimes I buy them, sometimes they are donated by friends or breweries(or brewing friends!) we work with at The Rake.

You will I'm sure be happy to know that I've got no intention of wearing sandals outside, flip flops inside is as far as I go and none, I stress again, NONE of my beer t-shirts have the word 'Lagerboy' on them!

Also if you're at a brewery and you feel like you want to donate, grab me a baseball cap or a t-shirt, I'll pay in beer or cash and you'll have my eternal thanks too!
So, Live Long and Prosper, yes I'm so sad I was watching Star Trek whilst writing this! 

Friday, 24 September 2010

Meet the Brewer : Kelly Ryan

Like so many talented superstars nowadays he chose to break the news to us a week ago over twitter, Kelly Ryan announced that he's leaving Thornbridge to go home to New Zealand. I have to say, my first reaction was shock, after all he's put himself about in the craft beer scene over here and it seems like he's been around forever. My second reaction was sadness, as part of the Award winning Thornbridge team Kelly has been at the forefront of craft beer in Britain for the last 4 years and so I wanted to give him a shout out before he went. If you haven't met him he's cool, funny, generous with his time and a fucking talented brewer, ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Kelly Ryan, the best brewer not to have signed The Rakes wall...yet!

1) How did you get into brewing?
Unlike a lot of brewers, I  never actually homebrewed! I studied Food Science and Microbiology degrees at university in New Zealand and ended up doing postgraduate papers in Fermentation Science, Flavour Chemistry and the like. I had an incredible professor, the late Jean-Pierre DuFour, one of the most passionate beer people I’ve ever met and one of the guys that had been involved in setting up the Masters of Brewing Science program at the Catholic University in Leuven, Belgium. I still remember a flavor chemistry lab where about 8 of us sat around doing a sensory analysis of the three Chimay beers and Duvel. I was hooked! Straight from university, I got accepted into a 2 year Trainee Brewer program with DB Breweries in New Zealand, spending most of this time at Tui Brewery in Mangatainoka.

2) How long have you been at Thornbridge?
It’s flown by, but it’s been very close to 4 years now! It’s amazing to think that when I began, we were brewing in a week what we brew in one brew now! From 57 000 pints a year to 2 000 000 pints a year… makes me really proud.

3) Who’s your brewing inspiration, and why?
I have so many! From my old professor, JP through to guys like Doug Odell from Odell Brewing and John Keeling from Fullers. In fact, I’ll list them! Agostino Arioli from Birrificio Italiano, Dom and Colin from Marble for being so passionate, Mark Tranter from Dark Star… he’s just a legend, Stuart Howe at Sharp’s, a crazy genius, Jeff Rosenmeier at Lovibonds, a guy who realizes the importance of amazing keg beer. Can’t forget to mention Martin Dickie from Brewdog of course, I cut my microbrewing teeth with him and Stef in the early days!  Most importantly, the team at Thornbridge, gonna miss those boys!

4) What was the first beer you ever brewed?
The first beer I ever brewed… would have been something at Tui in New Zealand. I’ll just guess and say Tui J Over here, it was either Highlander or Piper’s Gold up at Fyne Ales in Argyll, Scotland. Still one of my favourite breweries in the UK. At Thornbridge it was a tasty Irish Style Red Ale called Ramberg, nice balance of red fruits and toffee malts… can still taste! Mmmmm…

5) What’s your Favourite beer style?
Tough question! I love big hoppy IPAs, but can’t get enough of Lambic, Gueuze or any sour beers. I love what breweries like Russian River in the US are doing with this style. I also love a hoppy, fresh Pilsener… Birrificio Italiano’s TipoPils springs to mind…

6) How do you view the craft beer scene in Britain?
Interesting question. Part of it is shackled by tradition and part of it is breaking free from this and educating the drinker with it. Even in the four years I’ve been in the UK, there has been so much change. Jaipur was one of the hoppiest UK cask ales I had tried (making it easy to accept the job!), but times have changed since then, which is awesome. UK brewers are growing in confidence, looking across the oceans to the US craft beer scene and to Belgium, Czechoslovakia and Germany and the fascinating beer styles that exist over there. Small breweries here are brewing up some great lager-style beers, something that was usually just the domain of the big boys. Craft beer is a niche product, it costs a lot to make, a lot of time and effort goes into it, I think people who enjoy food and drink are beginning to understand this and realize the diversity that exists within the UK. Cask ale in itself is such an intriguing and unique product and it originated here! I think British people should embrace that part of their culture a lot more.

7) Is there a hop you want to brew with but haven’t yet?
I would have said the American Citra hop, but we were lucky enough to get a sample this year and do a 10 barrel brew with it called Larkspur. Probably a bit biased, I know, but it is without a doubt the best cask beer I have drunk this year. Phenomenal!

8) What irks you about the beer scene in Britain?
That some people won’t try a beer due to close-mindedness or lack of wanting to learn. Ignorance and arrogance frustrate me. If I have to hear something along the lines of certain beers been made with chemicals again… aaaargh! I used to work at a large brewery! What chemicals are you talking about!

9) If you could only drink one beer for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Jeepers creepers! Tough question! Orval.

10) What are your plans for the future?
Well, after four amazing years over here with Thornbridge and almost eight years away from home in New Zealand, it’s time for Cat and I to head home! Got a few potential brewing things lined up in New Zealand and really looking forward to charging it and getting people excited about great beer over there! The craft beer scene in both NZ and Australia is amazing at the moment, so it’s gonna be great. Saying that though, I’m going to miss everyone I’ve met over here and the great time I’ve had at Thornbridge. I wish I had a doppelganger!

11) Tell us something we don’t know about you?
I once ran around famous International English rugby player, Rory Underwood and scored a try.

I'd personally like to say a massive thanks to Kelly Ryan, Brewery Manager and Rugby legend! Not only for taking the time out  in his busy schedule to answer these questions but also for giving us such great beers over the years and although I'm looking forward to getting some NZ beers from him in the future, the British brewing scene will be that much duller without his presence.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Mikkeller Nugget Single Hop IPA

330ml bottle from BeerMerchants.com I bought it on a whim, it's a plain label, no hype, no bullshit, just beer, in a bottle with one hop used, how refreshing.
Very herbal aromas as you might expect from a single hopped Nugget beer, the taste is amazing, it's clean, it's refreshing. The Nugget hop is usually one used for bittering only but this beer proves it's much more versatile than that.

I now wish I had bought more whilst I had the chance. Oh well, too skint for any of that now, saving for New York in January, I'll just have to hope you logt ain't bought it all in the meantime.
By the way if any of you are feeling generous I reckon this makes a great Christmas present, hint, hint!

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Zombie Nation

Ever wondered how Zombie movies became so popular? After all they essentially involve brain-dead beings, moving stupidly slowly and eating people to spread the zombie ranks. In recent years films like 28 Days Later gave us a more chilling Zombie, one that runs and screams and is generally more frightening for the film going public. Totally unbelievable in my opinion. Why? Just look around you, they're everywhere, society has been full of them for some time now, you will notice it if you look up from your iphone 4 or Crackberry for one second, take a look in the mirror, have you grown jaundiced with the lack of light you're getting? do you have a diet that consists of reconstituted crap?
Protect your outer-Zombie

Honestly, how many people a day do you almost bump into because they are looking at their iphone screen or you are? Honestly now!
I think it's quite ridiculous that we have become so dependant on these gadgets, I'm sick of having to dodge the Zombie Generation that is infecting our society.
Any chance anyone wants to actually look up at the world, see where they're going and maybe have some appreciation of the world around them.
The other hand had his iphone in it.
I saw on the news that there was a recent study by Australian police had shown that the amount of accidents in three days involving people not paying attention to the road or the pavement etc...They're calling it 'ipod oblivion' it could just and well be iphone oblivion. In road accidents in the central business district of Melbourne, 90% were caused by pedestrians!
Now I'm not saying that the British are that stupid...well, actually I am but it's not undeserved. Now I don't own an iphone or ipod, I used to have a small ipod which was mugged off me in posh Dulwich Village when I worked there but I never felt at ease using it, you see it's a control thing, I feel a lot safer if I can hear everything going on around me.

I'm not only blaming technology for the 'Zombie effect' look at the amount of free magazines and papers  that are handed out around our transport hubs, papers like The Metro, The Evening Standard, City AM etc...Time was when people used to buy their papers from the local corner shop and read them on the bus or the train etc.. on the way to work, now, instead of looking where they're going they keep reading it on foot!
I could probably forgive the producers of these rags a bit more if we knew that these so-called free papers were getting recycled but how many do you see just left lying around in the street or on buses and trains.

Lets also just take into account the lack of queueing that goes on at bus shelters. Instead of the old fashioned British queue people now try and get onto the bus as soon as possible but end up moving really slowly, like old fashioned Zombies. It's quite amusing really, next time you're at the bus stop or waiting for a tube or train during the rush hour, have a look around you.

Ok, not a beery post but something I've been noticing more and more recently and I wanted to have a rant.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

London Brewers Love-In

The London Brewers Alliance is doing good things, nay great things. Years ago London was the hub of British brewing, in recent years it has given way for places like Sheffield, Manchester, Scotland and Wales. Not any more! a hardy group of brewers from various London breweries have come together, united one might say, to produce a new London Porter. They have banded together as the London Brewers Alliance and started shouting about the growing brewing scene in London. They've even made a cool video.
They have put aside sizes of breweries and bank accounts to put London Brewing on the map again.

This Friday, 6pm at Brew Wharf, they are showcasing some of the best beers Britain has to offer, and it's all from London!
It's a great venue to hold such an event as Borough has some of the best pubs and bars in London to explore and enjoy craft beer in general.
Best of all, it's a Friday night and you can sleep it off on Saturday! ;-)
I hope to see you there supporting the alliance,after all, without customers, there would be no reason to do any of this so, go along, enjoy the evening and pat yourselves on the back for supporting some of the finest brews in Britain.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

I am a Craft Beer Drinker

Crikey, I feel like I haven't blogged in ages, other than for The Rake! It bugs me, needles at me like an itch in the middle of your back that you can't quite reach.
I have actually started looking for inspiration rather than letting it hit me like it usually does, I'm also wondering why inspiration seems to have lost me recently, is it too much work? I doubt it, usually my work stimulates my writing and gives me inspiration. I should really be going to bed soon but I'm just wide awake, which is ironic really because I've felt exhausted and a bit run down for the last few weeks(perhaps another reason for the lack of bloggage).
I saw on facebook a new video released by the beer bloggers conference, it was inspired by Greg Koch's 'I am a Craft Brewer' called 'I am a Craft Beer Drinker' it's short, snappy and made me want to write a blog post about craft beer.
As a drinker of craft beer, this evening I have drunk three and eaten a rather nice dinner that Mrs Rabidbarfly and I cooked together.
The beers this evening were :
Thornbridge Jaipur, Goose Island IPA and Kernel Export Stout.
The Food? Not chosen for the beer but rather experimentation was Lightly fried Water Buffalo fillet with roasted potatoes and veg. Very Nice it was too. In case you were wondering I got the Water Buffalo from the Gamston Wood Farm stall in Borough Market.
A few of my friends are over at the Great American Beer Festival and I'm very jealous, so much so that I may have to unfollow them on twitter for the duration of GABF! A bit extreme but I have now been to the USA and I know how much great beer my friends and colleagues are drinking and that untouchable itch on my back has returned! I might just get my own back at Christmas when Mrs RBF and I go to New York, I'm already looking up craft beer joints over there, thanks for the suggestions so far, keep 'em coming!
Anyway, I am actually tired now so I'm going to go, was nice to get the little grey cells working again!
until next time.

Best of the South West at The Rake

This is one of Ugly Fucker'sTom's better pictures
As part of my Deputy Manager's training, he has to organise a beer festival at The Rake and since he spent a couple of years in the west country he decided that his festival should be all about the south west.
The list of beers is pretty huge, probably bigger than I would have done but he's a glass half full kinda guy and thinks he'll sell it all in a week. Good luck to him, It's going be cool and I just pray there's no morris dancing involved! That's what they do down there isn't it?

What I want to know is can Tom erect the cask racking in the shape of Stonehenge? How cool would that be?
Anyway enough of poking fun at my Deputy Manager, there is a serious ask here and it's that you all come along to his South West Beer Fest at The Rake between 31st October and 6th November. If you do you'll not only be supporting Tom who is one of the nicest blokes you'll ever meet, but craft beer from one of the most beautiful places in our green and pleasant land.
Hope to see you at The Rake!

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Texel Brewery coming to The Rake

No, we didn't find them lying on the beach!

Exciting beer launch for you lovely beery folks and you're ALL invited!

Texel Brewery from the Netherlands will be showcasing their beers on draught and in bottles for your enjoyment next Wednesday, 15th September, 6pm onwards.
This is the first time that this brewery have showcased in the UK and naturally we're very excited to be doing it!

You can find out whats on here.

We hope to see you at The Rake!

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Dates for your diaries!

Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut!

Ernest Hemingway.

Wise words from Hemingway. How many times have you said something when you've been stupidly pissed and woken up feeling like a complete idiot?
I have been guilty of this many many times and nowadays it's usually work based and a massive idea that gets shot down in flames, quite rightly sometimes, and sometimes it's a massive idea that is cool, fun, innovative and make's work a lot more fun than it really should be!
I've had several of these ideas recently and one in particular has started forming very quickly and very excitingly!
I'm going to let the cat out of the bag slightly and say we are planning four beer festivals(at least) in the next 12 months and the fourth will be a celebration of our 5th birthday and it's going to be HUGE!
You basically need to save the following dates in your diary....

October 31st - November 6th 2010 - South West Beer Fest.
February 27th - March 5th 2011 - 3rd annual Welsh Beer Festival
May 28th - May 30th 2011 - Summer Ales Festival
The fourth festival has two provisional dates that I'm looking at : 
DATE ONE : July 24th - July 28th 2011 OR
DATE TWO : August 7th - August 10th 2011

So those are the dates, no excuses for not being there and I can tell you one thing for sure, it's going to be fun, there I go running my mouth again!