The Friday Pint 2 #43 – An end of year list awards type thing

So, that was 2013. The year in which I got engaged, was part of a successful new beer festival, and met The Doctor (in order of awesomeness, in any other year, each one would have been top of the list). As this is my last Friday Pint of this year, I thought I’d take a look at what have been my (mostly) beer related highlights.

1. Birmingham Beer Bash (July)

Really there couldn’t be anything else at the top of this list. It was nerve wracking, it was tiring, but most of all it was satisfying. We achieved something which on paper seemed absurd. 10 amateurs, most of who hadn’t even met or spoken aside from Twitter just 18 months previous, came together to put on one of the most enjoyable celebrations of beer I’ve had the privilege to be a part of.

Plans are currently in development for next years Bash, which I will endeavor to be a part of. If you’d like to know about the Bash developments when they’re announced follow @birminghamcubed on Twitter.

2. Jelly Baby Massacre

The result of what happens when someone asks me what I’d brew for the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who.

Jelly Baby Massacre was a beer brewed to use stuff up. There was no recipe, just half full bags of malt and hops, and a bag and a half of jelly babies. One bag went into the boil, some went into the fermenter, and one jelly baby went into each bottle at bottling time. This was sheer crazy experimentation, which could have easily not worked. Somehow though it did, and it received positive comments from those who tried it.

I have two large bottles left, and have since been formulating plans for further Jelly Baby Massacres, and other sweet shop influenced beers (Parma Violets or Humbugs for example)

3. Bristol Beer Factory Southville Hop

When I went to the Maltings Festival in Newton Abbot on the Thursday, I began by choosing breweries, and drinking all of the beers available. This was also the case on the Friday. By the time Saturday came, many of the beers were starting to sell out, and my method of choosing what to drink simply wasn’t possible.

This led to me settling on Southville Hop. I’d done two days of trying new beers (of which Southville Hop was one). I figured it was time to enjoy myself. I can’t quite remember how much Southville Hop I did drink that day (not a crazy amount though), but I can remember loving it.

In a way, I credit that weekend with changing my approach to beer festivals. Whilst I still want to try new beers, I also want to drink the old favorites again. This was certainly the case at the Falmouth Beer Festival at the end of October, where a number of the beers I drunk were “old favourites”, including a certain Southville Hop.

4. Drinking All The Alcohol.

At some point over the summer, The Rockstone announced that they would be introducing new challenge boards for their Rum, Whisky, Bourbon and Gin challenges. At this point I was halfway through a structured tasting of the Bourbons.

Between then and the end of September, with about a week to spare, I drank all of the Rum, Whisky, Bourbon and Gin, 120 drinks in total.

On the first weekend of the new challenges I became the first person on the new boards by drinking all of the Bourbon, in what was effectively just over 24 hours. I will say now, it’s not something I’ll be doing again soon.

5. Rudi Can’t Fail

One Malt, One Hop, water and WLP001. The most simple of my homebrews so far and also the most satisfying. A reproduction with more hops and a reduced alcohol content simply wasn’t as good.

6. Drie Fonteinen Golden Blend

I could have all the bottles of this in existence and it still wouldn’t be enough. Without a doubt my favourite gueze in existence. I have a couple of bottles left. I want more. I love this beer.

7. Dancing Man Smokin’ Banjos

When Aidan first mentioned to me the idea of brewing a smoked US style barley wine I was somewhat intrigued. Could such a thing really work? I went up to Bitter Virtue soon after and bought a bottle each of Sierra Nevada’s Bigfoot and Anchor’s Old Foghorn to drink and try and figure out if it could.

The end result was better than I expected, and probably my favourite beer to come out of the brewery this year (just in front of Easy Rye’der). I bought eight bottles of it in the end, one of which has been put by for a long period of ageing.

8. Visiting Warminster Maltings.

In April I was still lacking an entry for Malt in The Others (a series which still has some stories left to be told, and that I shall return to next year). Thanks to the wonders of Twitter, Chris Garratt came to the rescue and offered to show me around Warminster Maltings.

I came away from that day full of information, much more than I could have dreamed of (much like when I visited Paul Corbett at Charles Faram last year). I also came away with a changed perception of how many people there are behind each pint, something which I then wanted to try and convey to my readers, and still do at some point.

9. Erm

I’ve run out of things that spring to mind. I have had many great beers this year, but clearly no more that have stood out enough for me to declare “I love this beer”. So with that I’m going to say that was my 2013. There should be at least one more post from me before the year is out, featuring a vertical tasting of Anchor’s Our Special Ale.

2014 will bring a focus on local beer (with the first post coming from the USA), the relationship between beer and art, more on The Wool House saga, and much much more.

From The Friday Pint, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all.


The Art Group Vs. The Brewpub

This afternoon I was made aware of this news story about a campaign against Dancing Man Brewery’s proposed use of The Wool House in Southampton as a brewpub, restaurant and entertainment space.

The Wool House currently lies empty and unused, after having been used over the summer by local arts group, Element Arts. It sits facing out towards the docks and ferry terminals. Previously it housed The Maritime Museum, which has now been relocated to the more central location of the recently developed Cultural Quarter (and renamed The SeaCity Museum in the process). Prior to housing The Maritime Museum, which it had done since 1966, The Wool House had been used to store wool for export since it’s construction in the late 14th century.

Many of the comments made by people on the Daily Echo website make reference to The Wool House being a “community asset”. Their tone implying that a public house could in no possibly way also be a “community asset”. I suspect that some people’s aversion to the idea of a brewpub moving into the space will be based on the idea that pubs are seedy places, full of drunken debauchary and fights, unsafe for any civilised human being. Whilst some pubs can resemble such a scene, generally on a Friday or Saturday night, most don’t, and wouldn’t want to either.

What seems to pass many people by is that it isn’t perpetually the weekend in a pub. If you visit The Platform Tavern (the pub on which Dancing Man currently brew their beers) on a Tuesday for example, you will find a relatively quiet pub where you can sit, relax, read a book or newspaper, or even work or socialise.

In many places in the UK, the pub is the community space. Turning The Wool House into a brewpub and resturant wouldn’t mean the loss of a community space, but the repurposing of one. Just because it sells alcohol doesn’t mean you have to drink alcohol. It is entirely possible to visit a pub without buying a beer, or wine, or spirits.

In my opinion, Southampton’s beer scene is significantly lacking behind many other UK cities, so I may be somewhat biased on this matter. That’s not to say I don’t have an opinion on art in Southampton. There is absolutely no reason why the two can’t co-exist (limited edition beer bottle labels, anyone?). A pub is as good a place as any to showcase art to an audience that in some cases wouldn’t otherwise see it. There is also no reason why the proposed live music space in The Wool House couldn’t be used for performances other than the live blues acts upon which The Platform Tavern has developed it’s reputation.

I’m sure each side will have their vocal minorities, and that the louder minority will win their case. I sincerely hope that the Dancing Man Brewery do get to move in and start building next year, not least because I’m looking forward to writing about the new place when it opens. In the meantime, I’ll be keeping an eye on this story, and will most likely be visiting it again soon.

(Edited to reflect the corrections highlighted within the comments)


The Friday Pint 2 #42 – Looking Forward

The Year Without Buying Beer has, admittedly, not been as successful in writing terms as I had hoped. Whilst I have drunk many things I wouldn’t have otherwise, I don’t think this has translated well to the posts within this blog. With that in mind, next year’s Friday Pint will return to the beer a week theme, though with a focus on drinking the beer produced closest (available) to where I am at the time.

Until then though, there are still a few weeks left of this year, which for me contains a week down in Cornwall with the family for Christmas. Naturally this means a whole bunch of drinking, and last weekend I packed the bottles (and minikeg) that I’ll be drinking amongst others in just over a weeks time. In no particular order, these are…

1. Dr. Rudi’s Dark Experimentation (5 litre minikeg)

This is my latest brew. I was aiming for a hoppy stout, yet I came nowhere near. Instead I got a stout which is enjoyable, but drunk in the knowledge that it isn’t what I wanted. I’ll be drinking this as and when until it runs out.

2. Brewdog and Lost Abbey Lost Dog

It tastes like Christmas in a bottle (it was aged in rum barrels) , so what better time to open one than at Christmas.

3. Anchor Our Special Ale 2008 – 2013

With the exception of a 2009 bottle, I have a run of five bottles of Anchor’s annual release, which I’ll be opening in a vertical tasting. I’ll try to do a write up of this.

4. Cantillon Fou’ Fonne

It was in stock in Bitter Virtue last weekend. All previous plans and notions of buying anything else were put to one side. This one is being saved for an appropriate dessert, or possibly just to enjoy on it’s own.

This won’t be all that gets drunk at Christmas, but it’s a start. Not long after I’ll be returning to America where hopefully I’ll get to start The Friday Pint 3 with some good local Pittsburgh beers.


The Friday Pint 2 #41 – Not much to say, yet again.

The problem with this year’s Friday Pint theme is that come many Fridays, I have found myself with not much to really say. This is one of those weeks.

As I write I’m drinking Titantic’s Plum Porter. I’m sure I’ve had this before, yet I don’t recall it being this plummy. On the strength of this glass, it’s one I’d have again if circumstances arose.

This weekend will see me bottle and (mini)keg the Dr Rudi Stout that I brewed a few weeks ago. When I had a taste of it last time I was back, it wasn’t as hoppy as I was going for. I’m hoping that the end result, when it gets poured from the keg at Christmas, will be enjoyable nonetheless.

I’m afraid that’s pretty much it for this week. I’m off to open a bottle of 3 Fonteinen Golden Blend. Enjoy your weekend folks.