Best festival/Highlight of the Year
2017 saw my first visit to the Mikkeller Beer Celebration (MBBC), and it definitely won’t be the last, as I’ve some tickets are already booked for 2018. The festival itself was almost perfect, and there were too many wonderful beers to mention them all over again. A notable new style was the modern extremely alcoholic mead, of which the pick were Superstition’s Grand Cuvee and Coffee Marion.
It was augmented by all the fantastic ancillary events around Copenhagen during the week, finishing at Mikkeller Baghaven , where they were selling halves of the leftover festival kegs, properly random in that even they did not know which each was, at just 10 Krone per half.
Extremely honourable mention:
As Beavertown have hit brewing capacity constraints they truly left their real mark in 2017 via Extravaganza, which just 18 months after the debacle of the 4th birthday party, was the UK’s largest and most impressive festival to date.
Only two years prior to this Craft Beer Co. had to cancel London Beer Carnival because they couldn’t sell out the vaults beneath Waterloo as the £50 ticket price was a step too far for “just beer”. Fast forward to 2017 and 8,000 people, over two days paid £55 for a sold-out event in Surrey Quays.
There were a couple of minor teething problems, but overall it was brilliant, and shows just how far and fast the UK scene has come. Beavertown also produced a very mellow Sour Solstice festival, in which I tasted the exceptionally rare Tommie Sjef for the first, but not the last time.
(However, it wasn’t all perfect as the small CraftMaster glasses at its 5th birthday were crap!)
Best road trip
It was the editor who strongly recommended going to the Buxton Brewery tap-house, and a trip in late September completely lived up to his endorsement. Great beers in a friendly town-centre location, which has a perfect mix of geeks, locals and hikers. There really isn’t any excuse for any London beer fan not to make the trip at least once.
Best Brewer interaction
July saw a Brasserie de la Senne dinner, organised by Matt Curtis, and held at The Prince in N22. Yvan de Baets, the brewery’s co-founder, was on particularly garrulous form, with my favourite line: “I love my yeast. It does all the work and is always the employee of the month.
It’s meant to be a blog about beer, not capital markets
March showed that those who participated in the Equity For Punks (EfP) scheme did not actually receive proper equity (http://beerinsider.com/lack-of-equity-at-brewdog/0), and it was gratifying to read that the FT (https://www.ft.com/content/1161a174-2b68-11e7-bc4b-5528796fe35c) agreed with me about the confusion at Brewdog between debt and equity, and the unsatisfactory nature of the founders cashing in whilst the investors were not allowed to. The year ended with their ludicrous ‘Equity for Pups’ scheme where they encouraged adults to buy shares for their dogs.
In January 2016, just after the boost from Camden’s successful sale, Redchurch raised £500k on the Crowdcube, on a valuation of £2.2 million, based upon their sales and profit forecasts. However, they missed the sales figures by approximately 50%, so that the prediction of a £1k profit turned into a £170k loss. Fourteen months later they were back for another £400k, but ludicrously the valuation was now £5 million, or more than double. It is absurd that a business can spectacularly miss its targets and yet double in value.
I don’t think we are in bubble territory yet but these examples are not healthy.
The King’s Arms in Bethnal Green probably just shaded it, but will they be able to hold onto their crown in 2018 now that Mauritz is running the show at The Axe in Stoke Newington?
Brewdog Shepherd’s Bush is definitely the brewery’s flagship branch in the capital and had some cracking events in 2017 (To’Ol, Kernel and many more), but the ridiculous “no pouring until 18:00” rule, creates unnecessary bottlenecks, and benefits neither the beer geek nor the casual drinker
The GNRT (Great Northern Railway Tavern) is the flagship for Fuller’s new trial to have substantial guest keg lines available in their own pubs. This is fantastic for drinkers, and fortunately the GNRT works very well.
The Wigmore pub attached to The Langham Hotel in central London brought a decent beer line-up, to a Michel Roux Jr. food project. Will 2018 finally see the long-awaited improvement in restaurant beer lists?
Mini chains expanded with Barworks-owned The Axe, which had every beer geek in London over for a Other Half TTO during London Beer week, and, as the year ended we have the Brave Sir Robin, and Small Beer N8, all of whom have excellent pedigrees.
For breweries, Burnt Mill won rave reviews in the autumn while most interesting saw House, which opened on site at the Prince N22, as The Earl of Essex struggled a few years ago with the same idea.
A very sad farewell to Duke’s BBQ, which I will cover in detail in the upcoming December blog.
Flying in US imports were all the rage with Bissell @ Hoplocker, Other Half at The Axe and Modern times at The Bottle Shop.
The welcome return of Marble in quantity to London,
A question about Jaipur on a mid-afternoon network TV gameshow. (Why weren’t you working? – Ed).
Easiest improvement for 2018, unfortunately as in 2017.
A live beer list on the internet isn’t difficult, but helps, and attracts customers. Well done to Mother Kelly’s that does it. There really in no excuses for those that don’t.
Overall 2017 saw London’s beer scene grow from strength to strength, so apologies for anyone who I have forgotten. I wish you all a happy and prosperous New Year.
Reporting from the front-line – Amateur Drinker manages to get along to all the beer things you’d like to but couldn’t. If you see this man and are tempted to buy him a drink think of the consequences.