Flagship February is an international project designed to celebrate those ‘beers that got us here’, the beers that can sometimes get lost in the constant stream of special releases. I was very honoured to be invited to contribute in the project’s inaugural year.
And now, on that same beach in Cornwall I stand with someone different. I step over the footprints I once left behind and make an entirely new path. My hands touch other hands, hands I hope to hold forever. And though the pub may be different, the beer is the same. Because a beer is not an ex-lover. It’s not unfaithful to return to it from time to time. And it will never, ever break your heart.
I chose to write about a beer that meant a lot to me, and was something of a game-changer in terms of British beer. You can read my essay on St Austell Brewery’s Proper Job right here.
It’s only when it breathes that I know for sure it’s going to live. Until then, I’m never quite convinced I’ve done enough. But the morning after brew day, as I walk downstairs and hear it wheezing into life, taking its first bubbling breaths through the airlock, I know. I wrap my arms around its belly to feel its warmth, and perhaps just the faint beginnings of a heartbeat, and right there, under the bright light of my kitchen, I know I have created life.
I was really pleased to be asked to contribute a piece for this year’s Sheffield Beer Week guide. As a founder of a beer week myself, I know the amount of work that goes into making these events happen, and just how much they can bring to a city in terms of raising it’s profile as a beer destination.
I met Jules Gray – the organiser of Sheffield Beer Week and owner of the award-winning Hop Hideout – back in October at the inaugural Beer Weeks Forum in Norwich. She shared her experience of running such a successful event and I was really taken with her enthusiasm and drive for making things happen.
Because art is about noticing. Noticing when the choices made by a brewer many weeks beforehand throw shadows forward through time. When she has trusted that the aroma will bloom, the bitterness will solidify, the malt sweetness will dance. When she has believed that the paint she has daubed will dry in precisely the way she imagined.
Given Sheffield’s place as a city of art as well as a city of beer, I drew the two together in my piece, ‘Noticing’. Because beer is nothing if it’s not also a work of art.
You can read the piece in its entirety right here.
I interviewed head brewer at Wild Card Brewery, Jaega Wise, for a profile in the Spring 2019 edition of CAMRA‘s Beer Magazine.
Jaega is a well-known figure in the British beer scene. Not only is she a talented brewer, she is also a chemical engineering graduate, singer, TV presenter, campaigner for diversity in the brewing industry and an elected director of SIBA.
“I’ve always said I’m a brewer before I’m a female brewer, before I’m a mixed-race brewer. But I will always do my part to support women, ethnic diversity, lots of different types of people getting into the brewing industry. The goal isn’t reached at all. We’re not even close. Equality is 50 per cent. Why should we be satisfied with anything less?” (Jaega Wise)
I was really pleased to be invited to be a part of Club Soda‘s Mindful Drinking Festival which took place at the Old Truman Brewery on Saturday 12 & Sunday 13 January 2019.
There were thirteen breweries represented at the festival, and some great beers. Low and no alcohol beers have moved on significantly in terms of both quality and range and I enjoyed showcasing a number of great examples in my festival beer tours and talk. Some of the standouts for me were Adnam’s Alcohol-Free Ghost Ship, which I’m really pleased to see is available on draft; Braxzz porter – apparently the world’s first alcohol-free porter; and the tasty low-alcohol alternatives from Small Beer Brew Co.
Like all Club Soda events, the Mindful Drinking Festival was friendly and welcoming, and full of a diverse, enthusiastic crowd, ready to explore some great alternatives to alcohol. I look forward to heading along to future festivals – after all, this scene can only get better!
Together with PUB19 – the only dedicated show for the UK pub industry – I have produced a series of short podcasts exploring the challenges and opportunities facing publicans today.
The podcasts take a look behind the headlines at the trends shaping today’s market and explore issues such as food, drinks, design, technology and more. With guest including Geetie Singh-Watson MBE (founder of the UK’s first and only organic pub), Laura Willoughby MBE (co-founder of Club Soda), Lee Cash (founder of Peach Pubs), Joycelyn Neve (founder of the Seafood Pub Company), Jane Peyton (drinks writer and educator) and Pete Brown (Chair of the British Guild of Beer Writers), the conversation is sure to be lively and informative.
“Ten. My hair is like spun gold but my knees are scabbed from falling in the playground. We live next door to a pub and, each night from my bedroom, I hear the rattle-slam of the door open and close, open and close. Sometimes I’m sent round there to buy dimpled glass bottles of lemonade and bags of unsalted crisps. I enter through the door marked ‘Off-Sales’, into the tiniest of rooms, but I always peep across to the sepia-stained lounge. It’s there I learn that both ‘mild’ and ‘bitter’ have more than one meaning.”
I’m a big fan of the wonderful Stu McKinlay and his fine beers, so I was thrilled to be asked to contribute to the Yeastie Boys 10th Birthday Zine. You can find my piece, ‘Ten’ – alongside contributions from Adrian Tierney-Jones, Jess Mason and more – in ‘Decade’, available from Yeastie Boys’ anniversary events.