Wednesday, 25 May 2016

A Brief Commercial Interlude

Tonight I'm launching a beer I brewed with Jonny Park of Tap East and my dad for his 70th birthday.

Mischief managed!
This, in case you are wondering, is what he looked like when he was about five years old - tie askew and clearly plotting something naughty for when he gets out of school.

And, if I'm really honest, I don't think he's changed much mentality-wise, he's just got better at getting away with stuff as he's got older!

I may also resemble this remark...

However, it would be wrong to say I'm just like my dad, I'm not, I am, without doubt, the sum of my mum and dad's personalities, with a little of 'just me' in there too.

I have my mum's blunt pragmatism, 'don't give a shit what you think' attitude and her moves on the dance floor.

The best way I can explain why I've picked out those three things as most resembling my mum, is also a story of one the funniest things I have EVER seen.

Let me set the scene: my bestie Christine has a fabulous loft apartment in Clerkenwell and it's the perfect party venue and she kindly offered it to me for my 30th birthday party, which was ace.

So, there's about 40 of us having a great time apart form one person the girlfriend of a (now former) friend who I had explicitly asked him not to bring... nobody liked her as she was the judgiest person ev-ah!

Look at that wicked grin!
Anyway, mum & I were dancing away happily to my great mate Dave VJ spinning the tunes but he couldn't play music loud enough to drown out her chuntering away about how we were dancing and how 'inappropriate it was for a woman of Bernice's age' and so on and so on.

So, after two songs of this behaviour my mum, god love her, had had quite enough and straight-up slut dropped - waving her booty right in front of this judgy baggage's face!!! Stood up and said: "No, that's probably a little inappropriate for a woman my age but I don't give a shit what you think" before sashaying her way back over to where I was standing with my jaw on the floor before bursting into uncontrollable howls of glee at her actions.

Honest to god, in my eyes that evening, my mum wore a cape that fluttered in the non-existent wind as she stood there with her hands on her hips like a dance floor-owning, bitch-slapping goddess.

That's what I get from my mum and I love that side of me, and her.

However, there's no doubt I have more similarities to my dad as I grow older - which my mum & sister would tell you is not necessarily a good thing!

We go fishing together, we like to work with our hands, we are both story tellers (although I cannot tell jokes and my dad excels at it) and if you leave us alone together for long enough we're almost bound to get in trouble/break something/do something silly that will piss my mum off/be reduced to uncontrollable giggles at a joke only we understand... or all the above.

It was my dad that taught me that being selfish isn't necessarily a bad thing, as long as you don't hurt other people along the way. By 'selfish' I mean doing what you want to do, to achieve what you want to achieve or experience new things and gain new skills in life.

He was also my role model for striking out on my own and offered lots of advice and support to me as I did so.

However, the thing I love most is spending time on the river bank with him, nothing does my soul as much good as hanging out with my dad for the day, trying to catch trout and setting the world to rights.

Smelling gooooood! 
But brewing this beer came a close second.

Seeing dad recognise how much hard work and expertise goes into a brew, seeing me chatting with a brewer about how we were going to progress through the day, what we were looking to achieve and then getting stuck in was brilliant.

Not so keen on the hurry up and wait aspect (he's also where I get my notorious lack of patience for things that aren't engaging me from) it's probably the most engaged I've seen him in a project that doesn't involve woodwork, springer spaniels, sailing or fishing.

And it's the personal nature of the brew that I'm thrilled with too - Commercial Road is named after the road in the East End of London that connected the East & West Indies Docks.

It's also happens to be where my grandparents lived until their house was bombed in WWII and they ended up in Englefield Green in Surrey, (a wonderland for naughty little boys to grow up, with Windsor Great Park just down the road!).

So, between the connection to my dad's parents and the fact that the road joined the docks where IPA was shipped to the Indies, it seemed only natural to brew an English-style IPA.

However, right at this point in time I am more scared about a collab launch than I've ever been.
I haven't been able to try it yet and I can only hope that we've created something that's half as memorable as the day of brewing it and that the fun we had making the beer somehow comes through.

Whatever the outcome, it's a day that I'll never forget and one I hope was a nice present for my dad, who isn't in the least bit 70, he's still that tie-askew, wide-eyed-at-the-world, total hooligan you saw in that picture above and in that, and so many other things, he will always be my role model.

Quick thank you to Jim and the guys at Simply Hops, without me even asking, donated the hops for the day - we used Target for bittering and three additions of Warrior Queen and Endeavour and a dry hop of both too.

Big love goes to Jonny Park at Tap East who was unstinting with his time, knowledge and ability to cover me in wort on the day! And thanks to Mike Hill & Richard Dinwoodie for allowing us to go and play on the kit.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

London's Hopping To It

(Just a quick note, I'm working with the London Brewers Alliance on this - mostly because it's AWESOME!)

With over three times the amount of pubs, bars & restaurants signed up to the London Brewers Alliance Hop Shoot Festival than last year, chefs are ready to cook up a storm with an ingredient considered the most expensive veg in the world[1].

Curious diners and beer lovers are set for a rare treat for just a few days from Thursday night as the London Brewer’s Alliance annual hop shoot pick comes around again.
Members of the Alliance, along with a few enthusiastic helpers, will be picking hop shoots, that would otherwise wither on the bine[2] as part of the cultivation process of the plant, and turning them into delicacies to put on a plate.

Among the big name restaurants rising to the challenge this year are St John, Duck & Waffle, Alyn Williams, The Manor, Pidgin, The Dairy, Quality Chop House and Paradise Garage – alongside other noted names as the Drapers Arms, The Empress in Victoria Park, Pitt Cue and the iconic Eagle gastropub – and a long list of other illustrious and award-winning venues across the capital.

Not only are the outlets challenged to use the hops, they are also challenged to think about pairing the dishes with a beer, which means consumers will have a chance to see the full journey of the plant in a very tasty and satisfying fashion.

Commenting on this year’s walk founder of the initiative, and London Brewers Alliance stalwart, Peter Haydon said: “It’s fantastic to see that not only is there a huge growth in breweries in the capital, there’s a huge growth in interest in the whole scene around beer, which includes these hop shoots.

“I’d just like to thank everyone who has got involved this time around and look forward to seeing what creative things the chefs come up with, and perhaps having a few beers with a few of the dishes myself!”
Award-winning beer & food writer Melissa Cole, who assists with project, said: “It was a high bar set by chefs last year who, when I delivered the produce, fell on them with huge enthusiasm and excitement – and I can’t see that changing this year, which means diners and drinkers are in for a huge treat.”

Notes to editors
Social media account details:
Tw: @londonhop
IG: Londonhopshootfest             
For further information please contact:
Melissa Cole on 07798 568400 or or Peter Haydon on 07973 465081 or

Full list of venues:

Paradise Garage
Duck & Waffle
St John Smithfields
St John Bread & Wine
Quality Chop House
Alyn Williams
The Guinea
The Manor
The Dairy
Drapers Arms
The Marksman
Yard Sale Pizza
John the Unicorn
Fanny Nelson's
Lupollo Pizza
The Regent
The Lauriston
The Empress
Crooked Billet
The Hope
The Catford Constitutional Club
Knowles of Norwood
The Bull at Highgate
The Bohemia
Pitt Cue
The Bell Walthamstow
The Eagle (Farringdon)
Essex St
161 Food & Drink
Canopy Tap room
Hops & Glory
Brewdog Soho
Hopstuff Taproom
King & Co.
Woolwich Equitable
The Florence
Flour to the People
Pub on the Park
The Lady Mildmay
Chai Ki
Zerodegrees Blackheath

Beer News Round Up

Random selection of beer news for you! 

@HiverBeers is doing urban bee keeping and beer tasting sessions in Kennington, which is brilliant, we need more bees and pollinating insects full stop - I have taken to randomly throwing cheap packets of wild flower seeds on barren ground to do my bit, but this seems like a much more sensible solution!

Secondly, @littlevalleyale has created a range of beers to stimulate debate in the EU referendum - whilst strongly stating they are voting IN - well done guys & gals.

Also, I'm excited to announce that I'll be doing a beer & food event with @marble57Tstreet during Manchester Beer Week - we've already been working up a menu and beer pairings and it is shaping up to be a properly boozalicious afternoon with, I believe, a few unique beers you won't have seen before. Tickets available here.

It's also London Brewers Alliance hop pick tomorrow, we have two full minibuses and some AMAZING venues on the list including St John, Alyn Williams, Pitt Cue and Duck & Waffle - as well as a whole bunch of pubs like the Bohemia, the Bull at Highgate, Zerodegrees Blackheath and at taprooms like Hopstuff and Sambrook's. I'll have a full list up by this evening with any luck!

Finally, if you'd like to see the all the winners from the @brewersassoc World Beer Cup which I was judging at recently then you can find them here.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Bavaria Gets Controlling Stake in Palm

Bavaria NV has acquired a 60% majority stake in Belgian Palm Craft Brewers. 

Palm Belgian Craft Brewers will thus from now part of Bavaria NV, with (it looks like from the translation) Bavaria taking 100% ownership by 2021 but I need to double check that.

I've been wondering what's going to happen to Palm for a while, the company's withdrawal from direct sales in the UK struck me as incredibly odd, the thirst for a number of its brands here was clear: Rodenbach & Boon couldn't be more loved.

I'll add more as I get the UK translations! 

Thanks to @belgiansmaak for forwarding the releases to me - very kind.