Friday, 29 July 2022

A Quick Catch Up





It occurred to me that, with the Great British Beer Festival (GBBF)looming large in my thoughts, a catch-up of what I have been up to wouldn't be a bad idea. 

In Manchester, this week, I was invited to the official unveiling of a new collaboration between JW Lees and Cloudwater Brewery, held at Lees Rain Bar.  The enjoyment of these things isn't wholly the beer - though this was more than interesting - but the chance to meet up with people.  I had excellent chats with Lees MD William Lees-Jones about the industry in general and with Paul Jones from Cloudwater about the crowded craft beer market among other things. Great stuff. My friends from Lees Brewing Team were also on hand to talk about the beer. Yes the beer.  Not Quite Pale... the star of the show, is a DDH beer of 5.2%.  I had it on cask, though a keg version was also available, and if you like your beer bitter, well this is right up your street. I fear though this beer, brewed in Lees Boilerhouse Brewery, might be hard to come by, as only 10 barrels were brewed.  Certainly one to look out for. The Simcoe and Strata hops made their presence felt for sure.

A fine selection of Boilerhouse beers were also on offer and I can say without a doubt that Lees know how to brew a very good lager or three. Manchester Pilsner was a stunningly good beer with a spicy pepper Tettnang finish, while others sang  the praises of Light Lager with its Mount Hood hops.  More of these, please.

So let's move back in time a bit and to my last trip to London a few short weeks ago.  The reason for this visit was to judge beer in the World Beer Awards, which I've been doing for a few years now.  This was the first face to face meeting for some time, and it was notable that quite a few badges hadn't been collected by expected judges. Covid or travel difficulties - take your pick, but it seemed a bit depleted to me.  My fellow judge in our table of two was Pete Brown, and to be fair to both of us, we made a pretty good fist of what we had to do. This kind of gig isn't all a bed of roses, and, by way of illustration, by the time we'd judged a flight of 13 Belgian Style Triples - all brewed in France -we were certainly in need of something a tad more interesting. I'll save my thoughts on beer judging in general to another day, but it was great to see many folks that I knew and that made it worthwhile, as is the opportunity to pit yourself against some very talented beer judges, many of whom are professional brewers.

The night before the beer judging, on this flying visit, I decided to nip down to Farringdon to visit one of my favourite London pubs, the Sutton Arms. I went via Barbican and stepping out from the station on the very direct route to Great Sutton St, I noted that I was passing another Sutton Arms, in Carthusian St. "Two Sutton Arms in one night I thought?" Why not? So after my usual pleasant visit to my "normal" Sutton Arms, I nipped in on the way back.  Let's just say it wasn't a great success, the welcome and service being a lot less than desirable. I actually filled in Fullers online feedback form while I was still there.  Rapidly I received an apology, but you only have one chance to make a first impression and I doubt if I'll go back for the compensatory free pint I've been offered. And in these difficult times, that really is the point. 

By way of contrast, after the beer judging, with a couple of fellow judges we went to another Fullers pub, the Warwick Arms.  Rather an appealing little pub, and there we were greeted with utmost friendliness and charm. The landlady couldn't have been nicer, discussing the guest beer and offering tastings while checking on our wellbeing from time to time. The young bar staff were equally pleasant, and we stayed a lot longer than we intended.  You see, as I always say "It's the offer Stupid". And being nice always works.  

And so to GBBF.  Continuing the theme, I'm looking forward to seeing many people I know and hoping my dodgy knee will stand up to days of serving the thirsty hordes. I'll be working on German and Czech bar as usual, so come and say hello.

 I've had a look at the list of beers in the festival and there are some crackers.  It should be fab.

Don't listen to any moaning about price. For £20 you get a glass, a programme and a couple of halves and the chance to see me.  Compared to the average craft beer festival, we are giving it away!



Paul Bailey said...

I'll be swerving GBBF this year, despite the prospect of a "free" festival glass!

Wishing everyone involved with the event, all the very best though, and if some of the more recent, local festivals are anything to go by, GBBF should be a rip-roaring success.

I shall be in London the evening before for the Beer Writers' Guild, summer bash, and will look out for you there, Peter!

Tandleman said...

Yes, bad back permitting and assuming I can find the place, see you there.

Phil said...

Something more interesting than a Belgian-style Tripel? Heresy!

(They're not all Westmalle, admittedly - and I've never had to taste 13 of the beggars in a row!)

Tandleman said...

If they had all been fine examples of the style Phil............

retiredmartin said...

Yes, being nice always helps.

Last year I was struck by how nice many London pubs were, particularly in the City where perhaps being less frantic post-Covid gave staff more time for a friendly world than normal.

And yes, the "real" Sutton Arms won me over in 20 minutes last year; it's the pub I'd recommend to anyone visiting the capital.

Professor Pie-Tin said...

We're in the States for a month.Californis Zephyr from San Francisco to Chicago where we spent a week in a 42nd floor apartment overlooking the lake, then a week in Fort Lauderdale before another 10 days on North Carolina's Outer Banks.
Three things strike me as they always do in the States - how bloody expensive drink is and despite trying all the gazillions of different IPA's and craft beers I always come back to Yeungling.No nonsense and reliable.The London Pride of US beer.
And lastly, bloody loud music everywhere. I out it down to the low attention span of Americans and their inability to converse in anything other than a shout.
Great country though

Jerry said...

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Professor Pie-Tin said...

Are you still with us old sport?
It's just that when you get to our age you begin to get worried about extended silences.
I'm 67.A bollocks of an age when you think you're still only 18.
A rare thing to look forward to is that you're only two years away from 69 and the licence to tell sex-based jokes with a pensioner slant.
My favourite involves a wrinkled arse crack, a scrap of yellowing newspaper and an old biddy exclaiming, in a muffled voice, how sad she was to read of that nice Mr Churchill passing away.
It needs an audience who are as drunk as I am to appreciate it tbh.
Hope you and Herself are ok.
More posts please.You're always a sensible and entertaining blogger to read.