Thursday, 31 December 2009

2009 - A Year of Beer.

Roll out the booze and the buffet, ladies and gents charge your party poppers, the new year is nearly with us.

This year has been a year of great change for me, probably the biggest transition period in my life thus far. I thought I would summarise it, adding a few thank yous and nods of appreciation along the way.

This year has seen me finish university, thrust blinking and stumbling into the world of work like a newly born forest animal. Completely ill prepared by university lifestyle for getting a full time job, I got a new, zippy c.v. prepared and the search began. Initially I considered a role with the estate agency I had worked for for the past three years which had funded university quite nicely. After a quick interview involving some completely ridiculous personality profiling questions and aptitude tests I was not given a job. I then realised what a bunch of spiky haired, shiny suited, fat-tie-knotted idiots estate agents were and began to realise what a favour they had done me.

Next, I pursued a true love of mine. Food. I asked about all the local independent food buyers and producers whether there were any jobs available, alas there weren't any. Even all my contacts at the local delicatessen I worked at didn't come to anything. Somewhat disheartened and about seventy c.v.s lighter it was time for a radical rethink. Back to the drawing board. The blog I was writing at the time was focusing more and more on beer, something I had always been keen on, I have a family links in the past with brewing and thought why not!?

I called up a list of all the breweries in Kent and called them all offering to work for them in return for teaching me how to brew. In an amazing stroke of luck the Hopdaemon brewery (my closest micro) wanted someone to take on all of the brewing responsibilities. Ideally they wanted someone with experience but what I lacked in experience I made up for in enthusiasm. I was taken on. Here comes the first thank you: my boss Tonie for giving me the opportunity to start brewing in the first place and being patient in light of all my newbie fuck ups.

A few thanks now, without meaning to be gushy or sycophantic. Thanks to Mark for all the decent beers, decent pubs and being a top bloke. Barry for all the amazing beer sent all the way from Germany. Dave for always having an interesting take on things, my beerswap beers and generally being a hero at the Equity For Punks launch despite no sleep, too much beer, losing a BlackBerry and having nowhere to sleep. Andy for helping sort Beerswap and saying kind things about my beer. Mark for a couple of awesome days/evenings drinking in London, Garrett and Lynne at Bull for a couple of amazing beer festivals, you always make us so welcome. Finally to Thornbridge, Marble, Goachers, Gadds, Brewdog and all the other brewers who have made awesome beer I have drunk this year.

I hope 2010 is as interesting as 2009 has been, see you all in the new year.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Brews, News and Gnus

Ok, well no gnus. But hey, no gnus is good news right?

Ok so once again with the best of intentions I set out to start blogging again. I have been slacking but I have been flat out at the brewery with the Christmas rush. Supermarkets demanding case after case of bottles, customers ordering polypins for Christmas along with all the brewing, racking and bottling we normally have to cope with!

Lots has happened since I last updated this blog: The British Guild of Beer Writers dinner (belated congratulations to all the winners especially Mark Dredge, Dave Bailey and Pete Brown.) Here are some of us drinking some warm White Shield

Brewdog have revealed the world's strongest beer- Tactical Nuclear Penguin, which according to James for BrewDog's email might go off like a tactical nuke unless it is stored in the fridge!

I have also invested in some decent homebrewing kit-the first brew will be tomorrow. I'm keeping it simple for my first brew- Pale malt, a little caramalt and a little 150 crystal malt, Challenger for bittering and East Kent Goldings for aroma. I'm aiming for around 1042 but I don't know what my mash efficiency will be like yet! The first few brews will be a steep learning curve no doubt.

I have also wrtiten a daily diary of what exactly a brewer gets up to over the course of the week, hopefully it will shed some light on those slightly cryptic tweets along the lines of 'Washing casks again. Grrrr' or 'Scrubbing out the mash tun now, just about to come up to the boil'

Until I post those next week you can follow my antics on twitter @petebrissenden .