Archive for January, 2014

January 22, 2014

Not so scary really…

Not scary. True enough. Nerve-wracking though, I’ll stand by that. I look forward, cautiously, to impressions over the coming days and weeks. It’s hard to be a truly fair critic of something you’re at least partly responsible for.

Do I like it? Yes. Would I change it? Yes again (but only really tweaks).  Happy? Well, no, but I can count on the finger of one thumb how many beers I’ve been truly happy with. Like I say, hard to be a fair critic of your own output.

On the other hand, Manchester Beer Fest was a cracking event, despite all the stairs and the trek to the toilets. Intriguing venue.  I wish them luck over the next few days.

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January 22, 2014

When did beer festivals get scary?

Beer festivals have never, as a rule, been something that get me nervous. I’ve a strong enough disposition to cope with beards, sandals, entrenched views, and all the other stereotypes that seem to be attached. Ok, Morris Dancers put me a little on edge, but that’s understandable, surely? Last summer’s Birmingham Beer Bash was an exception but having a lot more at stake with that one it was always going to be nerve-wracking. Otherwise, generally, no beer festival would face me.

Today is slightly different. Later today I head up to the Manchester Beer Festival, with more than a little trepidation. I think that is a first for me, so what’s different today.  Well, unless this is the first time you’ve read my blog you probably know I brewed my second collaboration beer at the end of last year, with Offbeat in Crewe. Unlike my first collaboration this one was previously untested. Before we even brewed it Manchester Beer Festival had ordered it. And so that beer is on the bar today. It’ll be the first time I’ve tried it. I have no doubt it’ll be fine – I’m sure it would never have been allowed to leave the brewery if it wasn’t up to scratch – but still, has it worked? Is it what was envisaged? Do people like it? Do I like it?

We’ll know later…

January 2, 2014

Looking backwards, looking forward.

I’ve just been scanning back through my blog posts over the last year, eventually ending up back at the start of January when I reviewed the previous year and set myself some aims for 2013. So, if I had good intentions then what became of them?

Well, I failed on the first count – to write more regularly. Arguably I wrote more frequently, but that was heavily weighted towards a flurry of writing around Birmingham Beer Bash in July. Verdict: must try harder in 2014.

Second up was the plan to read more of what other people out there are writing. Oh dear, definitely not achieved that – just haven’t had the time. Verdict: a downward trend that needs reversing.

Finishing off those little jobs that need doing around the brewery at home? Well, some progress here but it feels like two small steps forward and one big step back each time, so the results haven’t really borne fruit yet.  Verdict: maintain progress and hopefully 2014 will see the improvements start to show.

The final two aims I’ll wrap up as one item – to get some hands-on experience in a commercial brewery, and to get a recipe brewed commercially. Well, I think I can put a big tick against that one. Despite a false start earlier in the year, I’ve ended up with two collaboration brews with real breweries under my belt – firstly with Blackjack and more recently with Offbeat (due out this month, including an appearance at the Manchester Beer Festival). There’s even something already in the pipeline for 2014 with yet another brewery. Verdict: a success to continue building on.

So, not all good, but not all bad either. And against the backdrop of Birmingham Beer Bash, which took up an unbelievable amount of time, I’m reasonably happy overall. The plan for the next year is to try and improve on those things I didn’t really achieve in 2013, and build on the brewing success. Add to that another (hopefully) successful Bash, and throw in some other ideas that aren’t ready for sharing yet, and I reckon there’s a fait challenge for the year ahead.  Lots to do, and we’ll see where we are in another 12 months!

Happy new year…