Time for bed

Regular readers - yes, I mean you, Dave - will know that my breaks from blogging make the tart grow fondler. Check the time. It's almost time.

My plan had always been to take a few months away. Partly because I wanted to be fresh and feisty for GBBF and the Ratebeer European Summer Gathering. Say what you like about them; social inadequates with too-narrow focus on what makes a good beer? Fuck you. I will be in the company of the finest beery people I know. Some real turds too, for sure, but that's the way the crumble cookies.

Then, strangely, events in the last few weeks have made me wonder why beer bloggers bother at all. Anti-CAMRA, craft beer, new-wave keg... it's not the topics - they deserve to be at the top of the debating agenda - but the attitude. Frankly, bar a few enlightened souls, it stinks.

It seems that original thought is a declining commodity. Yes, I know comment on news is vital and valid. Comment about other blogs - it's a free world, baby. Comments on other blogs that are longer than the OP? WTF?

Knickers are being twisted for no more than the perverse fun of doing so.

Beer blogging in the UK is by parts splenetic, reflective, a release, a mouthpiece. And occasionally obvious, fatuous, worthless.

You don't need to be told the do's and don'ts. They don't exist.

It's not about changing the 'entire producing and consuming beer scene'.

It's about having an opinion. It's about thinking.

Please remember - thinking is so important.

And don't forget, people. It's only beer. It may be game-changing, life-shifting beer.

But it's only beer.

As long as it's good beer...

See you all in August, folks. Be Nice To Each Other :-)


The Session #52: Beer Collectibles

This month's Session, "Beer Collectibles & Breweriana", is hosted by Brian Stechschulte at All Over Beer.

I squashed my collecting bug before I turned a teenager. A brief flirtation with stamps, a serious fixation with chocolate bar wrappers and a bizarre fascination with badges gave way to far healthier pursuits. Like failing miserably at cricket. And engineering socially-awkward opportunities to try and see Julie ********'s bra. Apparently, if I'd asked, she'd have shown it to me. And it turns out she knew how to throw a cricket ball too.

So the attraction of saving breweriana has never appealed. Tegestology doesn't tickle my fancy. I do have a giant glass full of bottle tops but that was borne out of habit - flicking tops from one end of the kitchen to the other. I've no idea what's in that glass, never mind it being cross-referenced and photographed.

But, strictly speaking, I do have a collection. It's small but perfectly formed:

The Orval label comes from a lunchtime bottle savoured at the Nouvelle Hostellerie d'Orval in the company of brewery's commercial director, François de Harenne, and the beer polymath Phil Lowry. The Chimay cork was one of several popped later that same day by their export manager, Steve Marangon, in the garden of Auberge de Poteaupré. It was a day like no other in my life. Intelligent company. Industrial brewing sat cheek-by-jowl with meditative surroundings. World-class beers.

Every time I look at these things I can again feel the sun on my back. Taste the cheeses. Recall the tales told. Grin like the Cheshire Cat once more.

To everyone else, it's throwaway stuff. To me, it's a tangible link to the greatest beery day in my life. I'm just glad that I remembered to bring them home.


Seven years

It's Easter 2004. I'm sat in a hotel bar in Brugge, mispronouncing Duvel and about to have my beer epiphany.

In the grounds of Thornbridge Hall, Derbyshire, a stonemason's workshop is empty. The building that will witness the birth of Jaipur is still semi-derelict.

Over five hundred other UK breweries are still stainless-steel dreams. Five hundred.

Pete Brown has yet to begin blogging about beer. Facebook is only for Ivy League students. Twitter is just what birds do.

Many of the pubs that I drink in now have yet to have their renaissance. Many of the bars that I now visit in London (and a fair few of the beers I drink in them) don't yet even exist.

Seven years. Thousands of beers. A wholly different outlook.

In seven years. If I'm excited about beer now, how am I going to feel in 2018?


The Revolution Will Be Pressurised

Amongst all the noise about 'craft keg revolutions', let's attempt some clarity.

The majority of draught on-trade beer drank in the UK is kegged.

The majority of that kegged beer is lager.

The majority of the remainder is stout and bitter.

The craft / boutique / artisinal whatever-you-will keg is a niche within a niche.

The revolution will not come from these beers.

The revolution will come when a major brewer with font space secured in outlets throughout a comprehensive national distribution network chooses to enter the market.


When a keg beer is brewed that appeals to the casual cask fan. And the lager fan.

When the market predictions say the time is right.

When a brand can be developed, researched, trialled and promoted.

I fully expect, within the next five years, to see a major nationwide keg brand launched, appealing to cask ale drinkers looking for more consistency and to lager drinkers looking for more flavour. Something gold. Something premium.

And it will shift the axis of the UK beer market.

The revolution will be pressurised. Just not in the way that the geeks think it ought to be.