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Friday 31 December 2010

Happy New Year (well almost....)

Tonight there shall be lots of craft beer drunk all around the world to celebrate the end of 2010 and the start of 2011. I shall be honest, 2010 hasn't been the best year for me as it has seen quite a lot of family illness and almost every travel plan I had planned this year fell through (Twissup, BrewDog Bar opening etc) Nevertheless lots of great things happened this year. I got the chance to work at BrewDog which was great and gave me a much better understanding of how hard the whole process actually is (brewing and selling) I have tried such a fantastic range of beer this year including some from 3 Floyds, Stone, Bierra Del Borgo, Moor, Marble, Thornbridge, Nøgne Ø and Mikkeller to name just a few. I realised I actually like Lager (thanks to WEST in Glasgow). I finally got to visit The Rake in London. Lots of other things happened too but I was probably too drunk to notice.

Tonight will be totally the opposite for me though. So spare a thought for those of us who won't have access to craft beer tonight! I am working as I write this (well not really, its a scheduled post that I wrote days ago) Every New Years eve my DJ and singing skills help me to earn a few bob but it does mean that I will probably be drinking Guinness tonight or maybe wine but I will almost certainly be raising a glass of whisky to the blogging community as 2011 comes in. Although I haven't been that active with posting this year, I have been keeping up to date with all the regulars that I read.

So all the best for 2011 and have a safe night wherever you all are.

Have a craft beer for me eh?


Wednesday 29 December 2010

Stirling University Craft Beer Society; An Update

You may all remember a while back that I floated the idea that I was thinking of starting a Craft Beer society at Stirling University. Although there was some controversy at the time about how much Craft Beer actually meant to people in the UK we seem to have done pretty well so far and I thought I should let you all know how we are doing in the few months we have officially existed.

We started well. Without any official members apart from a good friend and I we already secured some sponsorship from the very kind Richard Burhouse at He agreed to send us the 52wk Beer Club boxes so that we could be guaranteed a good selection of beer for our tasting events. This has been a lifesaver as although we have several great breweries within 30 miles (TSA, Harviestoun, Williams Bros, Tryst and WEST) it is still great to have some choices from all over the UK for our members to taste. Thanks again to Richard.

So then came Freshers week. We had a fantastic response and quickly became one of the largest societies in the University. This was amazing since we were a new start up. I couldn't quite get my head around the fact that a University with no Craft Beer representation previous had gone on to create a great group of people. The most important thing about our group is how diverse we are. We have hop heads like me, some people who only like dark beers, some who are new to the craft beer game, some who are CAMRA lovers, some who are not. What brings us together though is a love of well made beer; whatever colour, strength or style it may be.

We have achieved a lot in a few months and we have a firm plan of action for the next few. I took the place of El Presidente in the first few months although I knew all along that this was temporary as I am moving back to France in January 2011. We have it up and running though and what a great team we have. 2011 will see us brew our own beer, take over a pub for the night ( a la Oz and Hugh) and visit even more great breweries than we did in 2010. Not forgetting that I will be back in September 2011 to take the helm and hopefully get some great new people excited about the mini revolution that we have started.

Don't get me wrong its been hard. We have battled against a lot of red tape about what we are and what we are not allowed to do. We haven't had everyone on board and some people have tried to make it hard for us. We have also been accused of being 'nothing more than a BrewDog sales club' due to the fact that I used to work for them and gave them some publicity at our sign up table (along with many other UK and world breweries) Surely that's like claiming the UK government is propping up the News of the World because the head of communications used to work there?!?

Through the bad times and the good we have come out on top. We have helped to creat a strong group of craft beer lovers who are already managing to increase the profile of good quality beer in the local area. I am pleased and proud that we managed it. Thanks for reading and expect more posts than there have been lately. Ive been lazy; Sorry!


Tuesday 28 December 2010

My favourite hop is ..........

For a long time now I have been trying to find that one hop that I consider my favourite. I think I have now found it. Don't me wrong its taken lots of hard work (drinking beer, brewing beer and smelling hops mainly) but I think I'm finally there.

These are some pellets of my favourite hop!
Can you guess what it is yet?

I shall give you a clue. Its a relatively new hop only being first sold in 2000 and it is registered which means it is controlled by one producer. BrewDog use it in 5am Saint (which was where I first got to brew with it), DogFish Head use it in 60 Minute IPA (So I'm told) and The Kernel Brewery make an IPA with it.

It delivers pine-like qualities and gives a wonderful floral and tropical bitterness. It is simply wonderful and I used to love measuring this hop when I was at BrewDog because of the lingering smell it left. 

Got it yet?

Its Simcoe! 

This may seem like a pointless post but I needed to tell the world how much I love this underrated hop (with the hope that it may encourage some people to give me some tips on beers with a huge Simcoe hit, any ideas?)

  Copyright, I hope you don't mind!

Raising the Bar

For the past week or so I have started watching a BBC show. It was a farce from the beginning, it involved lots of misunderstandings, someone who wasn't really sure what was going on and quite a lot of booze. You would be forgiven for thinking I was talking about the 1980's comedy 'Allo 'Allo but just like that the BBC have cracked the mix of farce and comedy once again with Oz and Hugh Raise the Bar. The pairing of Oz Clarke and Hugh Dennis is much more fluid this year and seems much more professional than last years Oz and Hugh Drink to Christmas.

                                                               Copyright 2010 BBC

Don't get me wrong it certainly doesn't live up to the comedy pairing of Oz Clarke and James May in their wine series or in their tour of Britain and it isn't nearly as good as some American examples of shows in this genre (see Three Sheets and Brew Masters if you haven't seen them). To be honest though we have never really done unpretentious booze focused shows in this country full stop and we have a lot to learn from the aforementioned shows.

As far as UK shows go though Oz and Hughs' latest offering has been entertaining whilst still remaining pretty easy for viewers to engage with. Don't get me wrong, I would love to see a program of the same type which really went into the finer details and explained a bit more about the beer,spirit and wine making process in finer detail but the fact is that the Beeb need to ensure that programing is accessible. There would be no point in making the exact show all of us bloggers wanted to see as there would probably only be around 200 viewers per episode- all of them us!

So I say well done to Oz Clarke on another great series, even if Hugh Dennis has been a touch annoying. I know that some people object to a 'lush' such as Dennis being paid by the license fee payers to go around the country getting trollyed, but honestly if he wasn't there just think what Mr Clarke would get up to on his own. Surely it would cause more uproar from the licence payers!

Please BBC......bring back James May for another wine series!


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