With more and more people needing – or choosing – to exclude gluten from their diets, I set out to investigate gluten free beer and suggest a few good brews to try.
Given the numbers of people now having to – or choosing to – consume more gluten free products, it’s not surprising that the number of British brewers producing beer without gluten is growing. But brewing gluten free beer comes with its own challenges.
I love cask ale and was very happy to be invited to contribute a short piece to this year’s Cask Report about one of my favourite places to drink it.
The Basketmakers is the place where Brighton leaves messages for itself. Tucked inside the vintage tobacco tins that cover almost every inch of the pub’s walls, there are small folds of paper, tiny twisted notes that reveal something of the city’s heart.
You can find The Basketmakers Arms at 12, Gloucester Road, Brighton, BN1 4AD. And, if you go there, have a pint for me.
My piece in CAMRA’s Good Beer Guide 2020 tackled diversity in all its many guises.
We lose nothing by embracing this diversity. In the same way that my cocoa nib Belgian-style sour doesn’t make your pint of bitter taste any less appealing, the diversity of people now actively involved in the UK beer scene in no way undermines the brewing and drinking traditions of the past couple of hundred years. On the contrary, it serves to strengthen it. Just like British beer itself, that blending of tradition and modernity, art and science, the past and the future, will propel us forward far more than looking backwards. We lose nothing by welcoming difference. And we have absolutely everything to gain. Without it, beer and the pubs that are so inextricably caught up in its well-being, will fail.
There are some fantastic Welsh breweries and I featured as many as I could in my guide to Welsh breweries for the Visit Wales website.
From Ceridwen the enchantress who cooked up magic in her cauldron of transformation, to the new microbreweries creating equally charmed drinks, Wales has a long and proud history of brewing.
From Purple Moose in the north to Monty’s Brewery on the English border, and from Swansea’s Boss Brewing to Cardiff’s Tiny Rebel, plus everything else in between, if you’re visiting Wales and fancy a beer, this website is a great starting point.
In August I braved the summer rain and mud (oh, that mud!) at Thornbridge Brewery‘s Peakender Festival. In between falling face first into a puddle and trying to keep the tent dry, I interviewed the wonderful Dominic Driscoll about his work as head brewer at Thornbridge. We took the audience through a tasting of Thornbridge beers and I was very happy to get my hands on one of my all-time favourite beers – the legendary Serpent (a Thornbridge x Brooklyn Brewery x Oliver’s Cider collaboration).
Peakender is a magical festival and I will definitely go again. I’ll just be praying for a bit more sunshine next time!
I was lucky enough to visit one of my favourite breweries – and write about one of my all-time favourite beers – for the Summer 2019 edition of Beer Magazine.
I interviewed Darron Anley, founder of Siren Craft Brew, about Broken Dream, winner of CAMRA’s 2018 Champion Beer of Britain award.
Broken Dream, falls somewhere between an orchestral symphony and a hands-in-the-air, stay-up-all night dance track. It’s boozy black with a rich viscosity built on the oats and lactose that swell to fill the mouth.
The Cambridge Beer Festival (organised by CAMRA) is one of the biggest dates on the beer calendar with over 40,000 people visiting during the week-long festival.
In 2019, I curated and chaired a series of events in the Discovery Pavilion. There were talks, tastings, discussions and debates on a range of topics including wild and mixed fermentation, sustainability, the contemporary cider scene and the future of British beer.
In March 2019 I travelled up to Liverpool to deliver the keynote speech at SIBA‘s Beer X conference.
We need to throw open the doors of our echo chamber and have conversations not only with people who do buy craft beer, but also with those people who might be persuaded to – the young people, the people who aren’t drinking so much, the women, the people who drink beer made by multinational, global brewers.
I spoke about the beer ‘echo chamber’. Despite the fact that those of us who inhabit the beer world share many of the same values with people who do not, we sometimes alienate or dismiss them, rather than welcoming them in. I also spoke about the strengths that many independent brewers have to attract new groups of drinkers. The beer world has changed. We need to make sure we are changed too.
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.