Thursday, 30 July 2009
Monday, 27 July 2009
Sunday, 26 July 2009
In the Morning Advertiser 23rd July there is a piece by Nigel McNally, the MD of Wells and Young, about how the micro breweries are damaging the regional breweries. It doesn't actually say that, but it's clear from the article that this is where their problem lies. "We invest, the small boys don't" is the title. I don't seem to be able to find it on the Internet. I'm beginning to suspect that Andrew Pring knows just the type of article I'd like to link to and misses it off the web site deliberately.
You take the blue pill and the story ends. You wake in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill and you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes. Remember -- all I am offering is the truth, nothing more.
Thursday, 23 July 2009
When the economy gets blustery there are things that just refuse to lay down and die. Small breweries are one of those things. The tree in this picture, up on the common land on the way to the Hesket Newmarket brewery, seems to be another.
Wednesday, 22 July 2009
Tuesday, 21 July 2009
Monday, 20 July 2009
1Definition of career: To hurtle uncontrollably. To move rapidly straight ahead, especially in an uncontrolled way.
Tuesday, 14 July 2009
Variety more than just numbers is preferable. In a pub with dozens of taps, many will be fairly similar. A choice of fairly identical fair is a false choice. You only need one good example of a beer style.
A more important feature is customer service. Something done better in your country than mine.
Punters are not intimidated if in a friendly environment where there is no such thing as a daft question. Offer tasters to the unsure.
Here in Blighty you can go in a pub with dozens of pumps, all of which have daft names rather than detail of what style of beer it is, and bar staff that have no customer skills and expect the punter to be aware of every small micro, its products and treat the unfamiliar punter like dirt.
Be aware the product is a niche and welcome the unfamiliar customer, and beer ticker alike.
Sunday, 12 July 2009
Beer is like no other product. It raises emotions and opinions in just the same way as politics and religion. People who drink beer regularly almost always have a view on the subject. Sometimes it's the price of a pint, sometimes it's the brand of beer, sometimes it's the temperature or the fullness of the glass or the use or otherwise of extraneous CO2.
Pubs are like no other business. Perhaps it's as a direct result of them still being, for the now at least, where the majority of beer is consumed. Regular and irregular pub customers almost always have a view on this diverse industry. No one style of pub is going to suit everybody. For some, the basic traditional pub doesn't provide the level of comfort or sophistication that they desire, perhaps these people are snobs. Others find too much ponciness results in an "up their own arse" impression that doesn't belong in a pub, and perhaps this set of customers lack the appreciation required.
For me, like many other publicans, my pub is my livelihood, my home and pretty much my life. I know that I get oversensitive when comments are made about the industry. I know that many publicans are putting in hours well in excess of the working hours directive, many are working for less than the minimum wage. Some, like me, do it for reasons that are hard to define but for sure have very little to do with money. It is, basically, our passion.
More than this, the niche sectors of the beer market, real ale and extreme beers, are promoted well by unpaid people. Be it CAMRA or beer bloggers or tickers or beer geeks they all, we all, contribute towards promoting and encouraging the more unusual small time brewers and the pubs that are bringing these beers to market.
I am part of that niche industry and therefore I care about what these groups of people say. If there is something that we don't do and feel we are unable to do, but there is comment that it should generally be done, I feel bad. I think that I care too much because it drives me to distraction, far too often, from the general good running of the business.
So why do people do this unpaid promotion? There always has to be an exchange. For paid work there is the exchange of money in return for hours attended. Without the money, most of us wouldn't do it. Conversely, when we do something for the fun of it, when the pay is negligible or none existent, like running a pub, blogging or being a CAMRA activist, there has to be an alternative payback, a discretionary exchange. Much of these activities are well meaning and truly intend to help the industry that is providing the goods and services that the impassioned desire.
The payback for many, of course, is the feeling that they are a little bit more in control of what they care about; pubs and beer. A feeling of being able to shape the things they are passionate about. For me, part of running my place is to do something I care about. To be able to create a pub that does things the way I see that they should be done. As I say, perhaps I care too much. When the things that the promoters say are at odds with what I feel I can or should do, or are impossible to attain because of our location or where the layout of the building prevents it, these comments cut deeper than anybody might ever believe.
In the clearing stands a boxer, and a fighter by his trade
And he carries the reminders of every glove
that laid him down or cut him
till he cried out in his anger and his shame
I am leaving, I am leaving, but the fighter still remains
Friday, 10 July 2009
Wednesday, 8 July 2009
My first bottling run was put through their plant about 2 years ago and was only the 4th run they had done at the time. I remember the day well and I mention in this post, how emotional I was about getting my beer bottled. It was only 600 bottles, but they meant a lot to me. The thing was, the plant was, at that time, quiet, clearly they needed more work. Mine was the only run that day and I suspect they were only doing maybe a couple of runs a week.
Today could not have been more different. It was a hive of activity and as I arrived the team was busy cleaning down after one run so they could quickly get set to do the next. It was barely coffee time and they had bottled more beer already than they did the first day I was there two years ago.
The demand for their service is so great that they have had to stop taking new customers. The existing ones are more than filling the capacity of the plant. From the two founders working part time two years ago they had 5 people working today.