Thursday 30 December 2010

2011 Note to Self

Well, I've looked back, now it's time to look forward before I have so much to drink on NYE that I forget what I'm looking forward to.
What do I want to do?

1) Learn to drive, yes, at 36 I'm not a driver, never really wanted to and really still don't but it's a useful sin.
2) Sunderland Uni - Brewer course. Why the f**k not? I enjoy brewing.
3) Brew some more.
4) I'm organising at least 3 beer festivals this year possibly more, hard work but watching them unfold into a good time is like watching a child say it's first word or watching someone enjoy your beer as much as you do!
5) Find interesting new ways of expanding the craft beer revolution. Very fucking vague but in all seriousness we need to start really shouting about how exciting beer is. I have some ideas, I WILL need your help.

I think 5 things is enough to be going on with, after all most of them are pretty time consuming!

Good luck to us all for 2011. Some will need it more than others, especially if I learn to drive ;-)

Monday 27 December 2010

My Year In Beer

No, I have not spent a year actually IN beer, although my liver might disagree with that!

This could end up being a long and drawn out ramble so bear with me.. I'll start with the bars.
Evening Star - I love that place, it's friendly, the beers are always top notch and it's somewhere great to go outside London
Euston Tap - FINALLY somewhere to drink other than The Rake! I know the guys behind this and the Sheffield Tap and they're onto a winner with it.
The White Horse, Parson's Green - Still the best pub in London and still going from strength to strength.
The Bunch of Grapes, Pontypridd - Run by the guys behind the Otley Brewing Company, great beer, great atmosphere and awesome food. Such a great place to drink in!

Boggle About Beer - Sorry Pete Brown but it was really good to see you knocked off number one, even for just one month! Sid has a mission to stop the spoogebeerians and his blog is a great read!
Tandleman's Beer Blog - It's been a pleasure getting to know Peter this year, he comes across as a bit of a grumpy old git at times but so do I. He knows his stuff though and it comes across in his writing.
Cooking Lager - Do I need to say anymore? Legend!

Thornbridge - One of my beers of the year was Thornstar, along with Kipling, Jaipur, Lord Marples.....blah blah blah, I could go on all day with this list!
Kernel - One man, one small brewery, so much great beer, as one of my staff said about a week ago 'I've never come across a Kernel beer I didn't like'. I second that.
Dark Star - Consistent, great, tasty beers. Not nearly enough recognition from the Geekaratti.
Otley - Still making great beers and still letting me loose in the brewery a couple of times a year, look out for more Utobeer/Otley collaboration this year!

Goose Island IPA - Still as consistently great as ever, a beer for brewers to aspire to!
Kernel S.C.A.N.NS IPA - One of Evins best beers this year.
Schlenkerla Urbock - Waited a long time to get this to The Rake and it was worth the wait. Simply the best smoked beer I have ever tasted!

Best Moments
My Wedding - Heed my words, getting married is the best!
My Honeymoon - My first stateside trip and because of it, not my last, so much great beer, so little time.
What a rabble, what a great day!
Twissup #1 - First of the Twissups in Sheffield and a great time was had by all!
Boggle Gets to No.1 - Already said it, I'm a bit of a sucker for the underdog so it was great to see him get to number one even if only for a month.
Blogaborations - Did  a collaborative blog with Shea, Dredge, Kelly and Mark earlier this year, got a couple more in the pipeline. It's fun, thought provoking and interesting pastime this blogging stuff.

I'm certainly looking forward to 2011 and what it brings. There are several big beer festivals I'm organising for The Rake and even though I'm not going to make it personally, the European Beer Bloggers Conference should be a lot of fun.
See you round the Isles! Love, Peace and Chicken Grease.

Saturday 25 December 2010

Happy-Happy Joy-Joy

Well, the worst is over for me, I'm on annual leave until January 3rd. The once a year drinkers are having to put up with their families, I think that's punishment enough for the way that some of them behave at this time of year.
What they've probably forgotten is that Christmas is a Christian holiday. I was brought up a Christian and even though my mother is a vicar down in Hampshire and I have very little time for organised religion nowadays, I at least understand what this time of year should be about.
So what am I doing? Drinking a fantastic beer (my first beer of the day is Kernel Export Stout) and watching some less fantastic films. Not actually celebrating the Christmas holiday, more just the holiday, the time off and the fact that I get to spend some time with my wife.
In the last few weeks I've been a right grumpy bastard and I would like to apologise to anyone that's had the misfortune of working with me in that time, and before any of my friends say I'm always a grumpy bastard, I get worse at Christmas because of the once a year crowd.
I was recently talking to one of my friends that also works in the industry and he said that it's not the behaviour of these people that gets worse, it's our tolerance that gets lower. He's right, he usually is!
I've been working in bars or pubs at Christmas for what is about 18 years now and this year has seemed so bad that I was starting to think this might be the last Christmas I do in the industry, it might be, who knows what the future brings, not me anyway.
I would like to thank my staff for their hard work this last year, my bosses for their continued support and I'd like to thank my regular(and irregular) customers for their patronage, it's down to them that The Rake is so successful, after all, they make us all work harder to bring the exciting beers to The Rake for their/our pleasure.
So, Happy Christmas, have a great new year and I look forward to seeing you all at The Rake in the next year for what will be an exciting year for the specialist beer industry.

Tuesday 21 December 2010

Brewday with The Kernel

Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of a brew day with Evin O'Riordan of the popular micro brewery The Kernel Brewery.
I asked Evin if I could come and brew with him a couple of months ago and he very generously agreed, I came up with the idea of doing a black IPA which Evin got really excited about. THEN I had the fortune of being brought a can of 21st Amendment's Back in Black IPA and I got even more excited about brewing a black IPA! - I wrote about the Back in Black here.
Then Evin suggested that because I liked the BIB so much we should do an homage to it, I very swiftly agreed to that because if ours is half as good as the 21st Amendment version, I'll be really happy. Evin got the recipe from Phil Lowry of beermerchants who knows the guys at 21a and had done his own version called Military Intelligence. We were now good to go.
Boggle turned up to chronicle the event/make fun of me and you can read his blog on it here.
I'm not going to bore you with the brewing details as frankly I've been too busy in the last couple of weeks to make the notes up, I'll have some of them available at the launch on the 9th January if you really must know.
Hops we used were five editions of Centennial and Columbus. Malts were Pale, Carafa & Munich.

So as I type, it's two weeks later and I have tried the beer! I have one sentiment to convey as far as the beer goes and that is : oh my!
I've only had the last runnings of it and as yeasty as they were they were also superbly tasty! Can't wait to try the good stuff!
Anyway we're launching the Black IPA at The Rake on Sunday 9th January between 12pm and 5pm for the first of our Sunday Specials of 2011 so come on down and try it!
Hope to see you there and more importantly, I hope you enjoy the beer!

Saturday 18 December 2010

Cold Weather? Snow Thanks!

Bit of snow and it grinds to a halt.
It's snowing. Bugger. This means that my Christmas rush will be severely curtailed in the next few days. But it's preeeety I hear you whine, yeah maybe but there are hundreds of businesses out there that will be affected by this weather, including pubs and the wholesalers that supply them!
The effect the weather had on us last time was awful. You see a lot of my customers rely on the trains into London Bridge to get them into the area, this includes the office workers and the other people who come into town on the weekend to do their shopping.
3 weeks ago when we got the first lot of snow, London Bridge station practically closed down and we had one of the worst weeks if not the worst week since I took over The Rake.
So spare a thought for the pub & bar operators during this weather, they will be hit hard and you can get there they do need your custom.
If you can get to London Bridge this weekend we're doing the Geek-Out Sunday tomorrow where I'll have four one-off St Austells beers, 2 new Brodies beers and a vertical tasting of Anchor Christmas 07, 08, 09 and 10. Oh and there may be a cask JW Lees Harvest Ale knocking around for a cellar run or two too!
Now, lets hope I can get to work!

Tuesday 14 December 2010

Russian River Blind Pig

I've just been out for the evening to see AFC Wimbledon put a reserve/youth team out against a decent Dulwich Hamlet side in the London Senior Cup. It was cold, so cold in fact that it took me the entire bus ride home to get feeling back in my fingers and toes.

I did a favour for some friends a couple of weeks ago and in return got a couple of bottles from the Russian River brewery in Santa Rosa, California. I had the foresight to put one of these beauties in the fridge before going to the game this evening.

If you asked for a Blind pig during the prohibition era at a bar you may well have been given a beer. It was a secret code between customer and barman if the customer wanted a beer. If you ask for one nowadays you'll get this....

Blind Pig IPA is 6.1% abv and really doesn't taste like it! It's so easy drinking and I remember now why I got so drunk in San Francisco when we were over there. The nose is all fruit, primarily Pineapple and Grapefruit with a bit of pine in there for good measure. The citrus really comes through on the palate too along with the pine, what a beautiful brew! It's smooth and fuck me it's got some lovely hops and malts in it, so balanced and  drinkable that I may have to move to Santa Rosa.

Oh and the score was 3-2 to AFC Wimbledon if you wanted to know.

Geek Out this Sunday

Being that it's the last Sunday before Christmas and Borough Market is open, The Rake will also be open from 12-6pm.

We're getting our inner geeks out too, all the details are on The Rake's blog, so come in and take beer far too seriously for the afternoon!

I might even get some mince pies out for ya!

Pic from the Beer Philosopher website.

Sunday 12 December 2010

Weasel Beer at The Florence

Just been for lunch at a friends house in Herne Hill, popped into The Florence Brew pub on the way back home as it's right next to the bus stop.
Now last time I went in I went specifically looking for the beer that they brew on site and I was very disappointed that they didn't have any.
This time they did and it's great! The beer is light in colour, really floral on the nose with hints of elderflower and the taste has an initial bitterness from the Cascade and Bobek hops they used but the end is slightly sweet which I wasn't overly enamoured with. HOWEVER whilst I'm a big hop-head it's extremely moreish and I would have happily had another couple of pints!
The question was asked of they'd used weasel coffee whilst making it but the name is all about the hoppiness aparently! The Weasel hops around as their wardance and that's where they got it from.
Message for the guys and girls at The Florence : Love the pub, love the beer, work needed for the beer names!

Wednesday 8 December 2010

Wine is Evil

Wine is evil, in fact it is the Devil. It gives you horrible hangover.

Drink beer instead. It Rocks.

Sunday 5 December 2010

Open it! Great Divide Espresso Oak Aged Yeti

Beer of the day No.2 and it's a biggie, one of the beers that I've recently had on draught at The Rake that I have been particularly impressed with. On draught it's a mere 11.5% abv, in bottle it's an almost sessionable 9.5%!

The first thing you get is coffee, the second, coffee the third get the point! A MAHOOSIVE beer that is so drinkable that you won't know you've had too much until well, you've had too much!
I'm pissed, not too pissed but nicely buzzing and I know I've been drinking a rather titanic beer today. Worth every penny of the 12.50 that Utobeer sell it for. This beer is one of the favourites of the Great Divide Brewing crew and is now one of mine too.
If you have a bottle anywhere in your home then for the love of all that's holy, OPEN IT!

Open it! Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA

I did a couple of friends a favour this week and ended up opening the bottles I was going to open for these blogs this weekend. Worth it though. We opened a New Glarus Cherry Stout which I have to say was superb and a Gouden Carolus Cuvee Van de Keizer 2009 which was a great beer to have on a snowy London night shared with friends.
Suffice to say I was left with a hole in the fridge where beer used to be!
I had to think on my feet and think quickly, what was I going to replace those two monsters with?
I got to Utobeer just before I had to rush off to work and picked up two great bottles of beer, after all, it's what we do!
Beer number one, Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA, at 7.2% abv and a deep cloudy orange hue to it. a nose that's full of a sweet Orange and Mango.
The mouth feel is immense, it coats the mouth with a warming, tongue-tingling lather that tastes of tangerine and a hint of soap! Not in a bad way though, this is very drinkable beer and I'm glad was forced to buy it in a hurry!

Friday 3 December 2010

Virtual Beer, Pah!

It's disturbing you know, on twitter various people keep mentioning virtual pints, virtual bars, virtual food etc.... blah fucking blah.
Virtual beer. Bet it's really satisfying. Not!
No I'm not going to buy you a virtual pint. If I want to buy you a drink you can meet me in person and drink a real pint of real beer in a real glass with real people around you in a real fucking pub!

This virtual bullshit is both pointless and annoying. I beg you people, please stop!

Tuesday 23 November 2010

I Just Want a Kitchen Sink!

There I was walkin' along the Frog and Toad when I get a real Geoff Hurst on an' only a beer'll do. Know what I mean? So I find da nearest boozer an' order da first pin' ov somethin' fizzy. The Barman pulls a pin' ov lager an' this Oil Tanker tells me...
"it's knock on the door a pint! "
"You're 'avin a Turkish" I tell 'im and he says 
"it's knock on the door bin lid awer you can Bombay Duck off!"
"You must be aaghta your bacon mate, I ain' paying that!"
Bombay then pal! he say's, this geeza's got some minerals talkin to me like that but i'm chubb so I turn an' walk out. There's more bath tubs around 'ere.
wot's Laadaaahn coming to when a barman gets to bubble and squeak to me like dat?
Typical Laahdan Battle Cruiser!
I walk into the battle cruiser dahn the frog and it's full of whistles and I cant even get to the bar so uncle buck that!

One more boozer in walkin distance and I'm in Friar Tuck, nobody's at the Ringo Starr and they have lots of pigs ear on the bar. I know this drum n' bass, it's cheap as chips and no fucker will rabbit on whilst I'm trying to read the currant bun wiv me pint of Nelson!

Don't Can That Idea!

So Brewdog will be canning Punk IPA from March next year. About time too, of all the breweries in Britain, they are probably the one that has enough of a following to be able to carry it off and their own unique style of branding works very well too!
Great Idea!
My last post was on 21st Amendment's Canned Back to Black IPA which also has very distinctive branding on the can so it 'can' be done well but I think that breweries will have to come up with a hip and trendy can to make it appealing rather than old hat or passe. Obviously the beer has to be good too otherwise you might as well be canning tramp juice!
Looking forward to it.
Other breweries that might benefit from canning their range? Otley? How about Harviestoun, Marble or Thornbridge?
Who do you think would be able to pull it off?

Saturday 20 November 2010

21st Amendment Back to Black

In may and June for a couple of weeks I was lucky enough to be in California. Whilst we were there we were also lucky enough to get to 21st Amendment brewpub, one of my favourite places on earth!
My favourite beer there was the Brew Free or Die IPA, but more about that later.
My friends Matt and Karen who run the Evening Star pub in Brighton were recently out in California and New York and they managed to pick me up this on their travels.
Pic from
Back in Black IPA. The first thing you notice is that the art work is amazing.
The second thing is the aroma, lots of liquorice, some orange and mango. Totally black unlike some supposed black ipa's. 
Now, I know some of you will say black ipa's blah blah oxymoron blah blah; Whatever. 21st Amendment have decided to call this a black ipa and I personally think they've done an absolutely amazing job with this beer. It's totally moreish which at a lowly 6.8% abv and a not so lowly 65 IBUs it's a wee bit dangerous but I want more! No, really! Matt and Karen found this in New York apparently, if you're in NYC any time soon, bring me back a couple, I'll sort you out for them! I love this beer!
Dredge would FABPOW this, I'm just gonna say I will happily SMILE for this beer and those who know me will say what a big deal that is! 
Brew Free or Die Next....

Tuesday 16 November 2010

Right Royal Knees Up

So Wills and the posh bird are getting hitched. Now you might think that because they're a couple of toffs that they'll be drinking Champagne all day long.
Can't see it myself, you see beneath those two icy posh facades are a couple beer swilling, car stealing, asbo-touting chavs!
I can see it now, Wills sends his butler to the bar, not for more champers but a couple of pints of fosters!

On my wedding day I started by sharing a bottle of Brewdog's Zephyr with my best men, my father-in-law underager!

Are you married? If so what did you drink on your wedding day?
Are you engaged? do you have a 'beer list' for your wedding day? - Admit it Dredge!
How will you(if you) toast the royal couple on their wedding day?

Will I toast them? Yes I will, after all they're two young people starting their lives together with nothing but their love for one another and a tiny flat in Anglesea!

*add-on question: Are you a brewer? Will you be brewing a beer for the occasion?

X-Factor For Punks

Louis Walsh was heard saying this week "Brewdog you remind me of a small Marstons".

Brewdog are coming to The Rake this Thursday to showcase a new version of the Punk IPA. Known only as Agent X  sorry...Punk X.
So nice they put kisses on front.

There will also be the old version of Punk IPA so that you can compare the two. Magic Dog will be keeping score and generally making the place look untidy(old habits die hard) and YOU can help decide whether or not Brewdog make the new Punk X version, the 2011 version of the beer.

It's X-Factor, you decide! Calls from mobiles may be considerably more expensive!

For more details you can go to the Brewdog Website.

Friday 12 November 2010

What is a 'Craft Brewer'

So the arguments about Cask and Keg rumble on, I suspect they are never going to stop but a couple of people have asked the question, what is a craft brewery? and what happens to the breweries that aren't considered 'craft'?
Two extremely good questions, lets deal with them one at a time?

What is a Craft Beer?
Well this(below) is as good a statement as any and it seems to provide more tradtitional breweries such as the *Moorhouses and Fullers of the beer world a foot through the craft beer door :

Craft Beer is an American term which is also common in Canada and New Zealand and generally refers to beer that is brewed using traditional methods, without adjuncts such as rice or corn; brewed for distinction and flavor rather than mass appeal (from Wikipedia).

Now I know that there are writers and bloggers out there that will spit their beer out at the thought that an Americanism might be spoiling the language or beer and brewing but that's just tough, you know as well as I do that our language is a very fluid thing.
But I'm not here to talk about language, I started this to try and define craft beer and I don't think I'm doing a very good job!

I personally think that craft beer is beer that's had the personal touch, where the brewer has taken the time to select the ingredients carefully, put a bit of thought into the beer he/she is brewing and then do their best to get the beer to the outlet in the best possible condition(be it from a Cask, Keg, Bottle or Can).
Personally I also like the thought that there are breweries and pubs being the centre of the local community. You only have to look at Pontypridd to know what I mean.
Don't get me wrong, I don't only drink craft beer, I have been known to drink a mass produced lager or two in my time and if you've read this blog for any length of time you'll know that Guinness is myt 'go-to' beer for want of something different, but I drank these beers in the knowledge that they are mass produced and that very little 'craft' to speak of has gone into them. I just happen to enjoy beers that I know have had some effort put into them. So sue me.

What do you think of the wikipedia statement above? I think it's a very reasonable way of putting things, it keeps  breweries like Moorhouse and Fullers in the craft beer picture and rightly so in my opinion. Why shouldn't these breweries claim a part in the craft beer revolution?

So what about the other question? What happens to the breweries that aren't considered craft? who knows? not me. I'm not naive enough to think for one minute that these mass producing, monolithic multinational brewing monsters are going to go out of business any time soon as why would they? At the moment they have a place in the market. They produce (relatively) cheap beer and the masses still drink it, for want of something better I suppose. Partly I think because craft beers tend to be more expensive and 'the people' still have these prehistoric hangups about how cheap their beer has to be.
Watch this space I guess.

*These were just two of the breweries that were either mentioned to me or mentioned in other posts on the subject.

Thursday 11 November 2010

Craft is the Future

Ok, this is a follow up post to the Where Next one. The reason for this post is that the last comment on the where next one(bar mine) actually made me very angry. The person in question seems to have swallowed a Brewdog bible and it was such a pile of steaming shit that I felt I had to write a follow up rather than just comment!

I am so sick of the keg vs cask argument. When 5 of us wrote blogs on Why Cask Beer Rocks it wasn't to say that Cask was better than Keg, indeed, Zak rightly pointed out that we were talking about a form of dispense on several of the blogs rather than a beer style.
I would just like to say this and you can agree or disagree, comment or not, I couldn't care less.

Craft Beer is the future. Not Keg, not Cask and not Bottle. Anybody that says different is wrong. These are just forms of dispense. The sooner people realise this and start raving about how great craft beer is, the better.

69 Dude!

As Bill and Ted would say!

Joking aside Lovibonds, based in Henley-on-Thames are launching their IPA as 69 IPA on Monday 15th November at The Rake.
This is one special beer, an American style IPA at guess what 6.9% abv, personally I can't get enough of it it''s right up there with some of the best American IPA's and if you consider yourself a beer fan it's a must try beer!

Proceedings start at 7pm and you'll be able to meet Jeff Rosenmeier, Jason Stevenson and Pete Brissenden from Lovibonds brewery who will talk you through the beer and why they indeed we, think it's so great!

There will of course be other beers from Lovibonds too including Sour Grapes, Gold Reserve and Dark Reserve as well as the usual favourites Gold, Amber and Dark all on draught. So 7 great reasons to join us on Monday night for a beer or several!

See you there!

Wednesday 10 November 2010

Where Next?

A cask Breather
So Pete wrote about the CAMRA stance on styles of dispense yesterday which frankly I could only see as a cynical ploy to get his no.1 spot back on Wikio from Sid Boggle(but shh...don't tell him I said that). In doing so though, I do think he made some excellent points and I want to touch on them from the point of view of someone who sells lots of all dispense styles.
Firstly as someone who has never used a cask breather, if a beer tastes amazing from cask and a cask breather is used, who cares?? Now, before the CAMRA bods say how can you say that if you've never used one? I have tasted beer from a cask with a cask breather and it makes very little difference to the taste.
swan necks with sparklers
The cask breather is designed to get a small amount of CO2 to replace some of the oxygen in the cask, extending it's life and giving it more condition at the point of dispense, not changing the taste.
I'm therefore also interested to hear the views of CAMRA members on sparklers and how CAMRA think they change the taste and condition of a beer! And if so why do so many northern CAMRA pubs get to use them? One I wrote in yesterday, Bacchus(Tyneside CAMRA pub of the year 2009 and 2010) uses sparklers and the beer still tasted superb! So, come on CAMRA bods speak up or forever be voiceless wannabes!
Secondly if a kegged beer tastes better than a cask beer is the world going to end?? No, and it does quite often taste better. Take Lovibonds for (a British) example, fantastic beers and not a cask conditioned one amongst them. Shock, horror! Never! I can see beer being spluttered all over keyboards across the country. Yes people, sometimes it DOES taste better when dispensed through a keg.
I hope I'm portraying the argument that I don't give a shit how a beer is dispensed as long as it tastes good that's what I'm hoping to do anyway.
The last point that I'd like you to think about is if CAMRA has done such a good job and the battle for real ale is effectively won, what now for CAMRA?  What is in the organisations future? After all, some of the more militant 'CAMRA-Types' are starting to 'expire' due to being older than God and who is left to pick up the mantra? Why, the more reasonably minded younger people of course!

Tuesday 9 November 2010

Live Blog From Bacchus, Newcastle

Tucked away on an innocuous side street is one on Newcastle's coolest bars, Bacchus. Given that the bar has continental beers, eight hand pumps and lots of spirits front and centre, it's an odd name for a bar. The wine is almost hidden at the back of the bar.
There seems to be a large range of whiskies from the USA and Scotland and the hand pumps are taken up with some great beers from the Fyne Brewery from Argyll. I am drinking the Hurricane Jack, a lovely light beer with a  tonne of Lychees on the nose and superb, thirst quenching bitterness that leaves you wanting more.

Andy Hickson, Manager, Bacchus
Picture from
Manager Andy Hickson is a very cordial host, the first time we came in was last night and he was behind the bar and whilst taking the time to talk to us he was serving customers, always keeping an eye out for them at the bar.
He's passionate about what he does too, the bar does beer and food matching dinners that are very popular when they're held.
Whilst Jeff and I were telling him about twissups and how we'd like to end up here with a beer dinner on the Saturday night it was clear that he was thinking about the logistics of doing this with a busy Saturday Newcastle night, very affable fella.
He's just given me a tip for a day trip I want to do tomorrow, after all, can't sit around pubs in Newcastle all week, cam I? Well probably but it'll be nice to get off my arse and do some exploring this week, after all, I have time on my hands and money in my pocket(for now).
Back to Bacchus, here I am listening to some local office bods talk footie and the possibility of AFC Wimbledon vs The Scum that Shall Not Be Named and thinking it's 'well funny' think not chaps but I'm in a strange town and I'm not about to get into an argument!
The food looks good, I don't have time to eat here this afternoon but I intend to return in a couple of days foir lunch, after all, who else is going to drink all this great beer?
Until later then!

Monday 8 November 2010

Kelly Ryan Obituary

You'd never guess this guy was a genius!
Ok, HE'S NOT DEAD but the first thing I have to do is give you the waiver, this post might make you cry. After 4 years with Thornbridge, Kelly Ryan is going home, he's done his handover post for the BeeRevolution blog and started a new one for the Thornbridge guys which I'm hoping they keep up.
I'd like to say thanks to Kelly, he's an extremely generous fella, especially with his time. After all it's not everyone who can right the wrongs of the beer world and still have time to reply to emails! Indeed when I heard he was leaving Thornbridge I contacted him for a meet the brewer piece I was thinking about writing, I emailed him some questions and he had the answers a couple of hours later!
Innovation, Passion, Knowledge.
When I came up with an idea of a collaborative piece on Cask Ale(I think it was my idea, feel free to correct me!) which was initially going to be pitched to the papers, Kelly was an obvious choice for the brewers point of view and he was the one that came up with the simultaneous blog posting idea that eventually happened. He put his time, his knowledge and his passion for craft beer into the piece and it was a very good read.
I first met Kelly at the Great British Beer Festival a couple of years ago and have met him sporadically at various beery events since then. In that time Thornbridge (and Kelly) have gone Stratospheric. The beers they have produced in the last couple of years have been on a par with some of the best I have ever tasted. One of my favourites being the Lord Marples, a fantastic hoppy session bitter that I could drink over and over again.
I'm also a big fan of the Kipling amongst others and I'm keen to see how it works on keg.
Anyway....Back to Kelly.
I think the best way to remember what he's done for the British craft beer scene is this :

Jaipur(yes I know they were brewing this before he got there)
Lord Marples
St Petersburg
Wild Swan

A heady list to say the least and not a bad beer among them! If you look at Ratebeer or other beery sites you'll see the full list of just how many beers they've actually released(I could go on for ages!) but these are some of my favourites.
I'd like to say thanks and good luck, I'm sure you'll all join me in raising a glass to an amazing brewer that New Zealand are lucky to be getting back.
Quick! It's not too late to keep him locked up in a brewery somewhere!

Sunday 7 November 2010

Beer Bloggers Conference 2011

Yep, The Dredge announced it to us on twitter earlier that there will indeed be a Beer Bloggers Conference in London in 2011.
So, are you going? I think it'll be fascinating and well worth going. The tough part for the organisers will be finding a suitable venue so any ideas feel free to send them to Mark or myself and I'll pass them on to him.

I just hope the organisers realise that beer bloggers over here aren't the pretty young things like in the USA or they may be in for a very ugly shock!

Friday 5 November 2010

All Hail Boggle!

The new Wikio rankings are out and unbelievably my mate Sid Boggle has risen 39 places to overtake the seemingly unmovable blog mountain that is Pete Brown from the no.1 spot!
We celebrated this achievement at The Rake yesterday by giving a free pint to one of our customers who came to the bar and shouted the phrase 'All Hail Boggle', we had put it up on Facebook and Twitter and it was a great bit of fun for our festival as well as a way to celebrate the big mans achievement.
Now, it should be said that whilst Sid writes some great stuff about beer, the posts that got him the rise weren't about beery stuff they were about Frank Sidebottom, a subject that I know means a great deal to the Boggle.
So, should it be allowed? well that's the beauty of blogging, you CAN have a blog that is about one subject most of the time and from time to time stick another subject in there. If you get more hits because of one, so be it. It shakes things up after all.
Oh and it should be noted that there are a whole THREE wine blogs in the top twenty and yet Wikio are still calling it the Wine and Beer Ranking?
The mind Boggles.

Tuesday 26 October 2010

Why Cask Ale Rocks!

Cask Ale is important to each of us in very different ways. In this collaborative blogging effort me(Bar Manager), Kelly(Brewer), Mark(Homebrewer), Mark(Beer Writer) and Shea(Young Female Drinker) say why it's important to us.

When I took over The Rake, it had two hand pumps and was doing approximately 8 firkins a week. A little over two years later and Cask sales have more than doubled to the point where on average The Rake goes through 17 casks a week and I’ve had to add a third Handpump and some extra stillaging in the cellar!

So what do I put this down to? Well, for starters, I’ll put it down to the customer. My average punters are not old guys who sit at the bar all day and drink the same thing day in day out, they are a lot more curious than that. Whilst I do get some of the older generation coming in, they are also genuinely after something new, probably more adventurous than a lot of the younger guys.  I’m not saying that the younger folks aren’t curious or adventurous, that’s the nature of youth and I am extremely thankful for that, it makes my job more rewarding if I can recommend a beer to someone and they come back and say that was fantastic!

It’s helped also by the fact that the British craft beer scene is so vibrant at the moment, breweries such as Otley, Thornbridge, Dark Star and Moor, to name just a few, are taking their inspiration from the USA. They have the personalities to give cask ale the hype that it deserves, they are giving their beer a personality too, something that has to be applauded and celebrated.  What craft brewers and bar managers such as myself are trying to do is spread the word that it’s not just about necking 10 pints of lager on a Friday night and writing off your Saturday, it’s more about experiencing the flavours and enjoying the craft that goes into making the beer that goes into your glass.

For years the beer scene in Britain was bland and one dimensional, it made working in pubs a bit dull really and gave us the feeling of working in a factory environment, dishing out the same beers to the same people day after day. That in turn gave credence to the generalisation that anyone could work in a pub and those that do are thick and should be treated like second class citizens. With the amount of different beers coming into pubs, bars and restaurants nowadays the staff are more than just mindless robots dishing out tasteless fizzy rubbish and there is a genuine lack of respect for these human beings. It’s a mindset that is still to be gotten rid of in these enlightened days of craft brewing and growing choice for the consumer but we do what we can and we’ll keep shouting about it.

The recently published Cask Report states that cask beers sell better when they are more expensive than the regular or ‘house’ lager. I generally agree with that sort of pricing, after all, from the first mash-in to racking the beer into barrels, delivering it to the outlet, stillaging, venting and tapping to the final moments up to when the customer takes their first sip of the pint, it’s a labour of love from brewer to cellar man. Cask ale you see is a live product if it‘s not handled correctly it will lose its flavour, its body, its condition or life, it needs to be loved. One of the stigma’s of cask ale you see is that it’s warm and flat. Not so if you pay attention to it, treat it like a baby. It needs to be nurtured and more than anything it needs to be respected.

Sunday 24 October 2010

My #Twissup

So the day started at 6am, I'm excited, it feels like Christmas, my attempt to call it #twissmas on twitter was pretty much ignored, hay-ho, back to being excited then.
I miss a bus by seconds and had to wait 10 minutes for another bus to Brixton, 10 minutes which felt like an eternity. A 333 finally turns up and we're off!

I get to Brixton and the Victoria line tube I got on seemed to be clean and new, bit bright for that early in the morning but it doesn't smell of piss so it's ok. Euston here I come! I'm meeting up with Mark Dredge and Chunk for the two hour train journey to Manchester and #twissup.

I'm there before my two journey mates and by this time I am starving, I really need my daily bacon fix. I head upstairs to the Britannia for a coffee and a bacon sarnie!

Dredge and Chunk turn up, we grab a breakfast or two and head onto the train, we're due into Manchester Picadilly at 10.49am. At this point it must be pointed out that I think Dredge and Chunk have worms, I've never seen two skinny guys eat so much and then complain about being hungry!
We discuss the various stuff on the train including t-shirts for next time, plain white with Twitter names, followers, blogs(if applicable) etc... what do you think, would you wear one?

People I am looking forward to meeting on this trip are Leigh who writes about good stuff and of course the beery legend that is Cooking Lager. There's also the guys and gals who I haven't seen in a while or even since the first twissup in January and are great fun to be around, Baron Orm, Fletch, Moggy, Zak, Tandleman & Richard MBT to name but a few!

We get into Manchester on time and meet up at a coffee shop, even though there was a perfectly crappy bar we could have started at instead! Baron Orm unexpectedly dishes out our 'Twadges'(Twitter Badges). Not t-shirts but welcome nonetheless.

We have a 10 minute walk from the station to our first stop which will be the Marble Brewery just down the road from the Marble Arch Pub, somewhere I am looking forward to getting to later. We're greeted at the Brewery by Colin who's dishing out glasses of Dobber, an absolutely great beer with no need for sparklers, eh Tandy?

Marble Arch, Interior
We get a tour of the brewery, another glass of Dobber and head off to the Marble Arch where most of us begin with either the Pint or the Bitter, mine was a couple of Pints, then a Manchester Bitter then half a Lagonda, great beers all of them! Just as we're were preparing to leave Cookie turned up, top bloke, and finally, out of'closet'?

Then it was time to go, predictably I wanted to stay at The Marble Arch all day, such a great pub with good beers in great condition, I look forward to visiting the pub again!

Next up was The Angel just down the road from the Marble Arch, there seemed to be 30-40 of us, so the poor guys at The Angel must have got a bit of a shock, especially when we all started ordering the Pictish Centennial. Yet another example of a superb beer served oop north. I've not had the pleasure of many Pictish beers but I have heard lots of good stuff about them and, the two that I have tried have been top notch! Anybody know who can get them down to London? A couple of pints later and it was time to go again, this time we were off to the Fringe.

This is where things got a bit fuzzy for me, all I know is that there are pictures that I remember having been taken of myself and posted on various social networks. I have no idea what I had to drink there but soon enough it was time to move on again and since people were heading towards Huddersfield, it was time for me to make a move toward home. We got back to Manchester Picadilly and I partook of the Burger King before getting onto the train and passing out. God only knows what the other passengers went through with my snoring but I woke up about half an hour out of London and got back home, hangover well and truly intact!

Another good day with like-minded beery folk, as Hunter S. Thompson said 'good people drink good beer' I couldn't agree more!

Women Who Drink Beer Are...

So the poll is closed on the debate over women drinking beer. A massive 22 of you voted and you decided what all of us actually already know.

Women who drink beer are....Sexy and Sophisticiated.

Of course they are! Meaningless poll really but for those of you that voted 'Just Fucking Weird'...Shame on you!

Thursday 21 October 2010

Beer Styles

Well this was always going to be a contentious one! Monday night I was getting pissed, sorry, enjoying the atmosphere at The Old Brewery in Greenwich for the British Guild of Beer Writers Seminar on beer styles. I'm not going to go into the seminar much because other people have already done that.
Dave Bailey a.k.a. Hardknott Dave of Hardknott Brewery fame gave me a bottle of his Dark Energy, a 4.9% beer that when we had it on draught for Hardknott Night at The Rake, whilst Dave it described as a stout he qualified the style classification to say he wasn't entirely sure what style it was but that it was the easiest hat to put on the beer.
It tasted enough like a stout at the time but the bottle is distinctly different, it's much more like a Mild and a very nice one at that. at 4.9% though, can it be called a mild? a strong mild?
Since the seminar there have been numerous posts on beer styles, a lot of people saying that there are too many(133 apparently), that we don't need all these classifications, I tend to agree; with consumer choice becoming more widespread regarding beer there is a real danger of confusing the customer to a point of alienating them all over again.
The Molson Coors UK Cheif says he wants beer menus in every pub, well in a lot of pubs cases that is a decent idea after all you have a wine list, why not a beer list. How are you going to lay it out though? It's a question that I have battled with in the last couple of years, deciding how to lay out a beer menu for The Rake, no easy task I can assure you with the fluidity of my ever changing line-up.
It's easy to pigeon hole things, and it happens every day in life, doesn't mean we need to do the same with beer though. After all there aren't really any right or wrong answers in this debate, which kind of makes the whole thing a bit pointless and dull.
There have been comments though that intimate the need for clarity so my beer list will eventually read by simple style and any description will have to fit into that category. For example a Raspberry Porter would come under the Stouts and Porters category rather than fruit beer or 'Raspberry Porter' or the SOS that I recently brewed with Otley would come under the Wheat Beer Category, after all it is a wheat beer.
Keep it basic and don't confuse the customers!

Sunday 17 October 2010

Beer Cupcakes

The cupcake war has been going on for some time now and more and more people seem to be getting involved in some way. Started by brewing Leg-End Phil Lowry and Dominic Driscoll others have started making them and I started getting the itch to try it on Wednesday, unfortunately I couldn't partake until Sunday. I was having had ideas for 'normal' cupcakes, you know, lemon drizzle, vanilla etc...Bacon was then mentioned on twitter and the aforementioned Mr Lowry suggested that would be a Yorkshire Pudding 'or a muffin' I retorted.
Then the idea came to me, beer! Now this was partly because I was feeling like shit all week and hadn't really had anything to drink because of it.
So which beer to use? Kernel Export Stout? Sierra Nevada 30th Anniversary? Beaumonts Ginger Beer?
All of the above?
I decided on Ginger and Lemon Cupcakes with Beaumonts Ginger Beer and fresh grated Ginger.
So I'm not going to go into the details of the recipe because I'm not a chef and you don't want you all nodding off but suffice to say you can find the recipe I used here.
What I will say is I modified it from Lemon to Lemon, Ginger and Vanilla and I also used Beaumonts Ginger Beer which I've blogged about before, it's a light, refreshing alcoholic ginger beer from Cornish Orchards and it's damn fine stuff!
All in all I guess it's a success, the cakes are light and fluffy and the icing is lovely and gingery too!
Now I'm going to...and drumroll please....have my cake and eat it!

Saturday 16 October 2010

Girlie Beer Anyone?

Picture supplied by Cooking Lager
Not once, not twice but three times today we were asked if we had any 'Girlie Beer' by ladies who had been brought in by their other halves. Ok now I'm one for equal opportunities but I knew what they meant, something that tasted of fruit. Oh dear.
My mate Melissa Cole has been shouting about this subject for years(not going to give her age away though) and I'm sure if she was standing in the bar at the time she'd either a) walk out in disgust or almost certainly b) try and educate these ladies into trying something other than an over-sweetened fruit beer.
Now, I have a whole shelf in one of my fridges dedicated to fruit beers and there are some very good ones but clearly we still need to shout about the fact that ladies can enjoy any beer on any occasion so, anyone up for ladies night soon at The Rake?
I could put some very 'unladylike' beers on and invite all the ladies I know, hell! YOU could invite all the ladies YOU know, how does that sound?
You can also vote on the poll to the right, and before I get people complaining that it's sexist, it's just a bit of fun and my wife approved it!

CAMRA Awards 2010

Last Saturday I had the pleasure of attending the CAMRA awards lunch. Now having had Roger Ryman, Head Brewer at St Austells and one of the winners at The Rake the night before, I was somewhat hungover so it took me a bit of time to get into my stride.
I was lucky enough to get a mini tour of The Oval too before the function, it was awesome! It's a ground I've been to loads of times, being a member at Surrey CCC but I had never been behind the scenes before, what a treat!
I got to see the original copies of the Wisden almanacs and the dressing rooms. Interestingly, the away dressing room has a wall not unlike The Rake's brewers wall. It's been signed by lots of international players from all countries that have played at The Oval.
The Lunch itself was superb, the staff at The Oval really did a superb job. Lunch started with beer, of course! I started on a pint of the Castle Rock Harvest Pale Ale, a lovely light hoppy beer that's apparently good for getting rid of hangovers!
The menu went thus...
Ravioli of Butternut Squash with a sage butter sauce, crisp sage leaves with grated aged Parmigiano Reggiano. Served with Castle Rock Harvest Pale Ale.

Roast breast of creedy carver duck, celeriac souboise, root vegetable and sweet potato galette, creamed savoy cabbage and a port and sage jus. Served with Timothy Taylor Landlord and Fullers Gales HSB.

Creme Brulee with Scottish shortbread biscuit and blueberry confit. Served with O'Hanlon's Port Stout and Thornbridge Jaipur.

Served with St Austells Admiral Ale.

Now I don't usually eat posh nosh like this but it  was really rather good and the beer parings were excellent, introduced by the brewers of each beer they went extremely well. I've never really liked creme brulee but because I was in polite company(surrounded by Fullers & Thornbridge brewers!) I thought I'd give it a go and very nice it was too, exactly the right consistency and great flavour, made all the better with the beer paring of Thornbridge's Jaipur and the O'Hanlons Port Stout.
If you weren't aware there were awards going on too, these were I believe announced at GBBF but given out last week. If you didn't know who won here's the list:
Mild Category
Gold : Surrey Hills, Hammer Mild
Sliver : Greene King XX Mild
Joint Bronze : Golcar Dark Mild & Nottingham Rock Ale Mild.
Bitter Category
Gold : RCH PG Steam
Silver : Moor Revival
Joint Bronze : Orkney Raven & Purple Moose Snowdonia Ale
Best Bitter Category
Gold : Timothy Taylor Landlord
Silver : St Austell Tribute
Joint Bronze : Evan Evans Cwrw & Great Oakley Gobble
Strong Bitter Category
Gold : Thornbridge Jaipur
Silver : Fullers Gales HSB
Bronze : Beckstones Rev Rob
Golden Ale Category
Gold : Castle Rock Harvest Pale Ale
Silver : Marble Manchester Bitter
Bronze : St Austell Proper Job
Speciality Category
Gold : Amber Chocolate Orange Stout
Silver : O'Hanlons Port Stout
Bronze : Breconshire Ysbrid y Draig
Bottled Beer of Britain Category
Gold : St Austell Admirals Ale
Silver : Pitfield 1850 London Porter
Bronze : Great Oakley Delapre Dark
Champion Beer of Britain 2010 : Castle Rock Harvest Pale Ale
Silver : Timothy Talyors Landlord
Bronze : Surrey Hills Hammer Mild

Now I like the Castle Rock Harvest Pale Ale but Champion Beer of Britain? Really? There are better beers on this list. Likewise the Silver position and I haven't tried the Surrey Hills Hammer Mild but I am reliably informed that it was superb.
There were some very interesting results in the mix, for instance, one of my favourite beers at the moment is the Moor Revival, it's a beautifully balanced beer that's 4% and tasty as hell, it only got silver. As remarked by Roger Protz who was doing the presentations, brewers are getting a lot younger! The Great Oakley lads got a couple of bronze's and they don't look old enough to even drink! So when they went to collect their awards I thought they'd let their kids collect instead! Now I haven't had their beers but they got two bronzes which usually means they're better than the golds when it comes to CAMRA so well done chaps!
All in all a massive well done to all the guys who got through to the final stages, I enjoyed almost all the beers I tried and those I haven't I'm looking forward to!
Slap on the wrist for Protsky though who STILL can't pronounce Ysbrid y Draig! You've had two months to practice Roger, school report says must do better!
Until next time folks!

Thursday 7 October 2010

If The Rake had a Jukebox!

So Pete and Liz have published their Pub Jukebox choices on their blogs. Sorry folks but my pub jukebox 'Rocks Out' way more than yours! This is what would be on it...

1) Wonderstuff - Mission Drive
Possibly the best first song to any album...ever!

2) Stone Roses - Fools Gold
This has to be just about one of the coolest songs ever made. Fact.

3) The Who - Won't Get Fooled Again
Rock track at the beginning of CSI Miami, one of my favourite shows and a great track.

4) Oasis - Cigarettes & Alcohol
Because in the nineties that's all it was about!

5) Pulp - Year 2000
It was either this or Parklife by Blur, both fantastic songs that are 'party-bangers'.

6) Gomez - Whipping Piccadilly 
One of my favourite bands and it was this or 'Get myself arrested' guitar riff won though.

7) Stereophonics - Handbags and Gladrags
 I love this song, it's a nice harmony and Kelly Jones has a great voice.

8) Bruce Springsteen - Jungleland
This song epitomises exactly what 'The Boss' is, a legendary musical, religious experience and Clarence Clemons Sax solo is just fantastic.

9) Manic Street Preachers - No Surface All Feeling
Another Welsh band that I listened to as an impressionable teen and I love this track.

10) Pearl Jam - Alive
I remember coming back from a pearl jam gig with my best mate and not having any voice left because they played this last as an encore, and what an encore!

Yup, they might be crass, they might not be classics but they are feel good party tunes and that's what you want for a pub. There will never be any music at The Rake as some people will never be able to agree on it, also it's too small for music offer. More's the pity.

Tuesday 5 October 2010

Water, Malted Barley, Hops & Yeast

I'm about to start sounding like a right grumpy old bastard so please forgive me or stop reading this post now before you get bored.
There is a current trend in the beer scene that says that ales have to be hopped then dry-hopped, green-hopped, mega-fuckin-hopped and then hopped again. Really? Not so my friends. Those of you that read this blog on a regular basis will know that I am a bit of a 'hophead'. Last night however, I had a great balanced beer, what gave it the balance, why that'll be one of the other four main ingredients in beer, the malt!
The beer in question is Kernel Pale Ale with Amarillo and Centennial hops, this pale ale is slightly darker than most of Evin's previous concoctions in as much as it's a light amber colour! Boy it's great beer though, totally drinkable, so much so that I went from having a quick half before going home to having a couple of pints of it before leaving!
People were insisting on more hops last night for his next round of these beers but I personally think this was pretty much the perfect beer and without wanting to sound patronising, I think it marked a certain 'coming of age' or maturity in the brewing that whilst the beers were great, hasn't been seen before and I hope that he just get overly persuaded by the beer mafia wannabes and keeps making these superb brews. Hops are all well and good but when you find the perfect mix, why change it?
If it ain't broke don't fix it!

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.