Will Guinness Change My Opinion?

One of the great things about the European Beer Bloggers Conference, which is being held in Dublin this weekend, is that it opens you up to new experiences. There are new people, new ideas, interesting talks and of course new beers. So what is a dinner hosted by Guinness going to do for me? Surely everyone knows everything about it by now?

Well I’m hoping it will do for me what happened with Molson Coors a few years ago at a similar sounding event. To be honest I went into that dinner with a negative attittude but from the moment it started I was opened up to new beers, ideas and learnt about the rich heritage some of the company’s brands have.

The dinner promises to be “highly experimental” with some new brews from the Innovation Centre at the St James’s Gate Pilot Plant. So while I’m sure they’ll be some nagging negativity hanging around the back of my head, I’m going to go into it with an open mind and am really looking forward to it

Why I’m Looking Forward to #EBBC14

The European Beer Bloggers Conference takes place in a couple of weeks and I’m looking forward to it for a few reasons.

Firstly I missed it in Edinburgh last year and thoroughly enjoyed the previous ones in Leeds and London, so there’s been a two year wait for this one.

Secondly, it’s in Dublin. A city I’ve never been to but heard lots about. In fact I’d never been to Ireland until around six months ago.

Thirdly, it’s sponsored by the Franciscan Well Brewery, which I’m eager to learn more about and hear from it’s founder, Shane Long. There are some other great sponsors too, including Sharp’s which brought along some really interesting beers last time.

Finally, I’m looking forward to meeting fellow beer bloggers. They’ll be a couple of familiar faces but mainly new people who’ll keep me entertained and educated I’m sure.

So with just 10 days to go the excitement is building about all of the above. Who am I kidding? I’m looking forward to the beer most of all!

Gyle 690 – There Have Been Many

This is a follow-up to Gyle 438 – The First of Many which I wrote more than 18 months ago now.

It was my first solo brew and I’ve had probably close to a couple of hundred since which is something, at the time, I couldn’t really envisage. But now it seems natural to me brewing away a couple of times a week and I’m still enjoying. There are always boring bits, the cleaning or racking when you don’t really feel like it, but the good outweighs the bad.

And I’m growing a beard just like a proper brewer…

Swedish Brewbie – An Introduction To Beer From Sweden

Swedish beers

As I immerse myself in the beer world, I like to try as a beers from all over the world, so taking advantage of my friend Rich’s generosity, I found myself with 12 beers from Sweden to drink.

Before I go through them, it’s pleasing to note the wide range of styles Sweden produces. I’d expected them to follow a particular style but, like anywhere I suppose, there was a nice variation in the beers I drank. As I can’t speak or read the language, many were a surprise to me which actually made the experience more enjoyable. Maybe I should take the labels off all my bottles and take a chance every time I pick one up?

I won’t review the beers one by one, mainly because I drank them all in one go and promptly lost my list of what I thought of them. But I do remember enjoying most of them. I wish I could speak Swedish though as I poured one and it turned out to be bottled conditioned which led to a muddy and slightly unpleasant pint.

The Mowhawk range was closest to the American and English style pale ales I’m used to drinking. The unfiltered lager was particularly enjoyable but I also liked the Gotlands Bruggeri Wisby Weisse.

It was a very pleasant diversion to drink nothing but Swedish beer and I’d like to do it again one day. If you want to find out more about the country’s beer then check out Darren Packman’s excellent blog BeerSweden.

Any ideas for the Brewery Olympics?

Since I started brewing I’ve wondered if there was a version of the Olympics for brewery workers (it’s only a matter of time surely), then what events would be in it? Here are a couple of my ideas but if you have any suggestions please let me know:

1. Donkey Kong-style barrel rolling. Take your cask, kegs, pins and polypins, okay maybe not them, and roll them at the nearest brewer until you manage to knock them over. It helps if the person rolling them is very hairy.

2. The hose wrestle. Take your longest hose, tangle it up and see who can neatly coil it up the quickest. In later rounds the hose is filled with caustic.

3. The unexpected customer dash. As you’re in the mash tun and due to put the hops in, a customer knocks on the door and the quickest to fulfill the order, get the hops in and jump back in the mash tun wins.

4. The shive throw. This is just throwing used shives into a bucket, a spectator’s favourite.

5. Chin ups. Find a secure piece of stainless steel and do some chin ups. I saw Kevin Keegan do it on Superstars once so can’t be too hard. Or was that tricep dips..?

6. Who can wear the tightest shirt? This one’s just for Stuart Howe.

It’s Time For The European Beer Bloggers Conference 2012

Today I’m off to the European Beer Bloggers Conference 2012 in Leeds and I can’t wait. They’ll be lots of tweets, photos, videos, posts and of course blogging.

I should say thanks in advance to this year’s sponsors:
Molson Coors UK
Pilsner Urquell
Shepherd Neame
Hall and Woodhouse
Williams Bros. Brewing Co.
Magic Rock Brewing

And a few others I’m sure I’ll find out about and thank afterwards.

Does branded clothing matter?

Prior to becoming a brewer, I spent my time sitting behind my desk, wearing a suit most of the time. A suit bought by myself. So when I started brewing, I expected to buy my own clothes – and I did.

Apart from my footwear which was bought for me, the rest of my outfit is a mixture of new work trousers and then old t-shirts and jumpers I don’t mind getting covered in beer, water, yeast and whatever else. Duke wears even older t-shirts, with holes under the arms and print so faded I don’t know what it originally said. Actually, that’s not fair, he does have some newer ones with names of other breweries on.

Which brings us to the crux of the matter. When he’s out delivering, he’s wearing a t-shirt advertising another brewery, wouldn’t it be better to be showing off our own? I’ve been to a few other microbreweries and they have the branded hoodies and vans and all look very smart and professional. We make great beer but, in my opinion, don’t look like it.

Of course having a branded van and polo shirt doesn’t make good beer but when we’re out delivering it makes us look professional and it helps people know where you’re from. I don’t mind wearing my own stuff to get dirty, but I would like to give a better impression to customers. So what’s stopping us? New York, he just hasn’t got round to it. Looks like it’s down to me to little old Brewbie then…