Monthly Archives: January 2017

#NoMoFOMO

When I first started out on my Beery journey, Twitter was my way of learning and seeing. As I’ve mentioned before I would follow what I saw as Beery messiahs and become intrigued by the beers they were raving about and as a result I would seek out those beers to try for myself.

At that stage it was a journey and I felt very much like I was learning with every beer I had. This was an explosion of new terms to me that made me so curious that I felt the only way to truly understand the language was to try the beers.

But that was a very different era. There were far fewer breweries around back then. Distribution networks were far less advanced which meant a beer brewed outside the region was very difficult to get hold of and if you did it was usually long after its initial release date.

There were also far fewer special releases. I think many breweries were in their infancy and were very much focussed on establishing their core ranges. Core beers were relatively young in their development so Brewers were fine tuning and honing them to get the best out of them.

This sounds like I’m talking of a very different era, I sound like my dad talking about his childhood! But this is only a few years ago.

Annual releases were UnHuman Cannonball and erm, well the likes of Good King Henrys Special Reserve and Fullers Vintage, but as I wasn’t really aware of ratebeer I didn’t know of these beers. There simply wasn’t many big releases.

Unhuman Cannonball may well have started all this off, but it was a very unique event in the calendar back then. This is pre-websales, if you were lucky enough to get hold of one in your local shop, you were very very lucky.

But once that clamour was over, we all just went back to drinking the best of our locally produced beers, while exploring the brewed out the region imports that appeared as and when.

I drank more of the same beer back then, that’s not quite true, I drank less but there were more regular beers supped, fewer new beers tried.

Roll forward to 2016. The year started with me seeing my timeline swamped with the first of Wylam Brewery’s collabs, WxY. A lot of profile for this beer, it was a short run beer so demand was high and availability low. And the rest of the year followed suit. There was a new must have beer every single week. Let’s just remind ourselves of some of the main ones, Fourpure Juicebox, UnHuman Cannonball, Human Cannonball, Cloudwater DIPA V1, V2, V3, V4, V5, V6, V7, V8, V9, V10, Beavertown Dy Jekyl & Mr Hyde, Rainbow project boxes, Buxton Yellow Belly, Buxton Yellow Belly Desert edition, Magic Rock Hypnotist and Wayniac, Brew by Numbers 55:03. I could go on, but I won’t. It serves no purpose does it. Isn’t reading that list, well, erm just abit boring? That’s how those outside the industry feel about the weekly clamour for that weeks buzz beer.

I think I stepped back from ordering a box of Cloudwater DIPAs when they announced that it was to be a monthly release. I just felt that £25 a month for the quantity to be delivered was getting abit daft when the availability was improving. Why pay postage when it was becoming more available in the local shops.

FOMO the Fear Of Missing Out.
Was my life better for trying some of those beers listed above? Well in some instances it was, but through circumstances rather than the getting of said beer.

What is it that you don’t want to miss? Ask yourself that. If it’s simply trying a beer so that you have a gauge of what is good, then fine. But how many of us have that need to be seen trying a particular beer, or being the first to try a beer, or being the first to post a picture of a beer. Basically bragging right seekers spoil it for me.

Bragging rights seekers need a steady stream of new releases to give them momentum, they need that special beer every single week to let the world know that special to them is the norm. To demonstrate that they have their finger on the pulse and are in the know. And what I find is that every beer is judged in black or white. It’s either amazing or it’s shite, there is no middle ground, you rarely get why and often the amazing beers aren’t quite as good when I try them.

That does my head in. The arse licking. Gauge the motive of those posting on such beers. Are they giving an independent and subjective view or are they buttering up some other person of influence for whatever reason.

I digress, but this is the biggest influence on me stepping back from those much talked about beers (avoiding the ‘H’ word). I’m not saying these beers aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, more that there are a gazillion other beers out there that can give you the same feeling of refreshment and enjoyment.

So that’s my mission this year. To boldly go where a great many have gone before and to get back to enjoying those beers that have been round for years but are amazing, and yet because they don’t have one particular Friday night to get everyone talking about them online, fall under the radar.

A great example that springs to mind, Buxton Axe Edge. As bangin a beer as a brewer can brew (my new tongue twister, try saying that when you’re hammered).

So 2017 is my year of #NoMoFOMO get onboard folk! Tell us about a new beer, not simply the beer everyone is drinking. Imagine if you turned up to a bottle share and everyone had the same bottle? It would be rubbish! Well Twitter can feel like that these days, entice us to try something new and we’ll do likewise.  Bring something different to the table, let us discover a broader range of beers and we’ll all be far better for it. A rich tapestry has more than one thread.

Remember the hashtag! #NoMoFOMO

Fog on the Tyne….

Should a beer be clear?

There’s a growing wave washing through Instagram.  The beers Im seeing are progressing, there’s a clear future beer style developing.  Have you noticed?

I take it as a historic mis-handling problem that has led to murky beers being un-appealing. I don’t want to stray into the Cask debate, but I suspect that drinkers aversion to murk is due to a reaction to what should be clear beer, poorly handled and ultimately served cloudy.  So it was cloudy in error.  That error, I assume, also led to the beer being of poor quality to taste aswell.

So what’s changed?  Let’s face it the last 4 years have been dominated by the influence of the West Coast US IPA.  The hop forward, sharp and lip smacking. All about brewing a beer that is a platform for those hops, delivering them in an as un-affected way as possible. The best examples are raw, challenging and organic in their aroma profile. It goes without saying that I consider Cannonball to be one of the best examples of that style.

The US is a mahoosive country, don’t know if you’ve noticed. I hark back to my rap loving youth to give clear contrast of how the west coast and east coast differs.  They’re significantly different too. The culture, the weather, the mindset. Somewhat inevitable that an entirely different beer style would develop on the east coast.

Its that east coast style which has progressed the murk bomb as a style.

What gets me though is that the thing people are talking about is that murk.  The thing which puts people off is the murk.  The thing people talk about being attractive is the murk. It’s just doesn’t make sense.  Why the murk?

Personally I want to understand the murk. What leads these beers to be murky? Is there a point to the murk? Does it hold more of the hop properties within the liquid instead of releasing it as aroma? Does that make it more intense on the palette?  But most of these beers are sold as being juicebombs. Designed to be gulpable and less of a challenge than the west coast hopbombs that we were used to.

From where I sit, I personally haven’t yet gotten over the wow factor of that slap in the face from fresh hops.  I want the challenge. I want the assault on the senses that west coast hop bombs give me.

My perception of East coast IPAs is that the assault is lessened, designed to give you a more genteel experience. The hops are still forward but with less bittering hops, the experience is gulpable juice.

Fashions move on. Areas get explored. I’m all for breweries exploring styles. You stand still you are left behind.

Lets try and see beyond what we’re seeing…

Murk will only grow this year, don’t let it put you off.  Get stuck in, judge on what you taste. The flavours will appeal a lot more than the images.

Edit Post script: There is one thing that nags at my mind here, Brewers intent. I often hear of breweries putting out beer which they didn’t intend to be murky but ended up being.  Now the thing I can’t quite fathom is if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

If the result is good beer then I should applaud the fact that perhaps 10 years ago that beer would have been drain poured. But the flip side is, are some breweries getting away with poor standards and simply using the fashion of murk to get away with putting out beer that maybe they shouldn’t?  I don’t have a definitive answer but I do often question if a murky beer was intended to be murky or not.

My hopes and dreams for 2017

Happy New Year folks!  2017 is going to be the best yet.  Here are my top ten Beery hopes and dreams for 2017…

1) Drink more caskalé: Cask Beer, much discussed in recent weeks and as I do a lot of my tasting at home, I often don’t see the best of some beers. And while I talk about loving cask ale, I probably should support it more in my buying decisions.

2) Visit Thornbridge/Buxton: I’ve got a weekend planned with Steve from Beer O’Clock Show to visit these two tremendous breweries. Thornbridge is for a special tour and tasting with one of the brewers, Buxton Taphouse for the day on Saturday! Buxton cask! Whoop!

3) Craft Beer Calling: After the huge step forward in 2016, Craft Beer Calling is genuinely up there as one of the best beer festivals in the country. I cant wait to see what the 2017 version brings.

4) Leeds Beer Festival: Last year I watched in amazement at how good Leeds Beer Festival looked. I fully intend going along this year. Part of me wants to support it all the more, given that Beavertown Extravaganza has unceremoniously landed on the same weekend. I know regardless of that Leeds will once again be brilliant.

5) Newcastle Beer Festival: The CAMRA version. I think the CAMRA festival often gets overlooked, but given that last year the festival had Almasty Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout on, it really isn’t one to be missed.

6) To volunteer: All of which brings me nicely into my 6th wish/intention for 2017. I really want to volunteer at a beer festival this year. Just get involved and see what it’s like from the other side of the bar.

7) To give the local CAMRA group a chance: I’ve been a member for a good few years now but never been to a single meeting or event (bar the beer festival). I’ve signed up to join the local branches tasting panel so I’m going to get stuck into that and see where it takes me.

8) To visit more of the local breweries: I’ve said it many times before but I’m a proud Geordie, proud of our region and passionate about beer. The more I get to know about the beer produced in this region, the more I want to explore it.

9) Podcast: Which brings me nicely to my 9th wish. I’m pleased to announce that this year will see the launch of the North East’s first beer podcast, named The North East Sippin Forecast. Myself and my good pal Rob (@trebor3232 he’s new to twitter give him a follow!) will be exploring beer and exploring the North East beer scene. We’re certainly not polished communicators so bear with us, but it should be a lot of fun. We have a twitter account all set up, so give @SippinForecast a follow and we’ll keep you up to date of our progress!

10) Have Fun: There are many many ideas planned for the podcast, but horse before the cart! I’m genuinely so excited for what we have lined up and I’m sure you’re all going to enjoy it too! Watch this space.

Above all else, there’s times when beer can take itself too seriously.  Let’s get back to Beer being fun!

 

C.A.S.K. report

Cloudwater Are Seeing Kegs,
Casks Are Soon Kaput.

Craft Ales Significant Kosts,
Cant Achieve Sufficient Kash.

Current Arena Suits Kegs,
Creating A Superbeer Kaiboshed.

Cask Also Suffering Kwality,
Cellarmanship A Slipping Kommodity.

Clarity Attitudes Sometimes Kautious,
Could Ask Someone Knowledgeable.

Could All ‘Stablishments Kope,
Costs Alot Staff Knowledge-ing….