Pubs are rammed with the Office Xmas Party crowd in December, so don’t need events, while January sees alcohol consumption drop so I’ve decided to combine both months for the purposes of this blog. The combination is also hideously late, for which I apologise.
The biggest news of the period was obviously Fuller’s. The Editor has covered it fully here (http://beerinsider.com/fullers-sale-sad-yes-but-not-the-end-of-their-story/). Clearly, it is very disappointing. Low sterling/yen may have helped the deal, but Asahi did not pay such a hefty price for Vintage Ales.
At best, they did it to push London Pride in Japan’s growing beer culture; at worst, they will develop the Thames-side site that Tokyo executives would have driven past many times from Heathrow.
Events have moved swiftly on with Head Brewer Georgina Young moving to Bath Ales in March, which clearly is not a good look for those hoping that standards will be maintained. At a recent (mid March) Brewers’ Journal lecture, Sam from Gypsy Hill noted that in 2015, 100% of beer made within the M25 was independent. After Fuller’s, Four Pure, Camden et al, it will be just 17% next year once BeaverWorld is on-stream, and that is if no one else succumbs to the lucre.
A fantastic list for The King’s Arms 5th Birthday Party. Cantillon Rose de Gambrinus, Verdant Maybe 1 More Psi NEDIPA, Bruery’s The Wanderer, Alesmith Vietnamese Speedway Stout, Stiegbergets Nuddle IPA and many more classics on keg. Fuller’s Vintage Ale on cask and 100ml shots of 3 Fonteinen Oude Gueuze and Orval 2016.
Work commitments meant I couldn’t make the actual event, but luckily was able to enjoy them all the next day. The Fuller’s Vintage Ale was also on at The Earl of Essex, and, unbelievably, lasted for most of the Xmas period at both venues, even with all that I was drinking
Brew By Numbers hosted a MTB for the Danish Ale Farm in December. This event had been scheduled for Mikkeller Bar, London but was transferred at the last minute. Crisp, modern IPA’s and DIPA’s. The Bermondsey stalwart also announced major changes: Co-founder Dave Seymour, remains a significant share-holder, but is stepping away from day-to-day operations at BBNo to pursue other interests. And with absolutely no idea if they are connected or not, but the brewery also revealed that they would be opening a new Taproom and barrel-aging store in Peckham.
A slightly bizarre beer story on Bloomberg TV during the US government shutdown: Damian Brown, head of Bronx Brewery, was interviewed, as the Federal Government has to approve each new beer labels that cross the State-line. There was already a five week backlog by mid January.
Three thoughts: the USA has far more red tape than the world’s largest ever single market, on our door-step, a large part of what governments do is just bureaucratic nonsense and finally it nicely links to this Blog Post (https://theburntoutbeerguy.wordpress.com/2019/01/13/is-craft-beer-burning-out/?fbclid=IwAR1ZKwALwn5G7S7gUA0WLh165B9TI30l8BCevravNmp-NmhI3uBX9vd0oR0) regarding Beer Burn Out as punters demand new styles, which leads to a constant drive for new recipes, when, by definition, there are more ways of screwing something up than making it work.
Burning Sky had two events at The Bottle Shop. In December, they launched the annual Burning Sky Cuvee 2018 and the Saison de Fete. In 2019, the new Saison de Peche , a brilliant blend of white and yellow peaches, which was a gorgeous beer with a delicate sharpness, introduced by Head Brewer Mark Tranter.
Birrificio Del Ducato was previously distributing through, and running The Italian Job bar. Regrettably that is now a normal pub, rather than the Italian specialists outlet it began life as. The beer is now distributed by The Bottle Shop, who celebrated by hosting a TTO.
Highlights included Settembre, with a sharp white grape and tannin quality from the Malvasia grapes, Frambozschella, Beersel Morning with its blend of 3 Fontenien Lambic and their in-house Saison, and Kiss Me Lipsia a fantastically tart Himalayan salt Gose.
A brewery trademark dispute actually made the main BBC web-site (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-derbyshire-46390587). They even managed to successfully attribute it to and, then, correctly describe Rainbow Project 2014! Both breweries put out PR statements, which can be viewed here for those who are interested: https://twitter.com/BuxtonBrewery/status/1070685730203205633 and https://www.bateman.co.uk/yella-belly-gold-facts/.
The Foxglove soft-opened in 2018, and then properly in the New Year, which meant that it assisted this combination column. On Liverpool Road, Islington, this converted restaurant is friendly with a keenly priced beer selection, whilst Red Hat opened in Dalston, from Graceland, known for King’s Arms, The Axe, et al.
Moor launched Batallas Double Stout, a collab with La Quince, Madrid. There were three variations, all from a single brew, normal and both rum and whisky barrel-aged versions, the 1st projects from their SE1 Vaults.
Other Half TTO at The Experiment imported the queues from their New York tap-room, and judging from the horror-stories from those that did go, I was glad that I gave it a miss.
Bohem MTB at Union Tavern whilst Cloudwater, Enid St. hosted Magic Rock. The advertised highlights were the collabs but I kept going back to their own West Coast IPA, which was fantastic, back to the Old Skool, and heralded early 2019’s welcome trend of returning to the US IPA’s roots.
As always, Xmas Day marked by the traditional pre-lunch visit to the Wenlock Arms.
January closed with a packed Cloudwater TTO at the GNRT, and I promise February’s review will be more punctual!
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.