No, me neither. But Chuck is calling the shots for The Session this month and he's looking for "first-hand knowledge of the complexities and pitfalls of starting a commercial brewery". My only first-hand knowledge is what one very specific customer wants, and I think his demands can be boiled down to a single statement: You Have To Love Beer.
Actual beer that is. Not beer as a concept, beer as a market segment, beer as a culture, beer as an icon: you have to love the real fizzy (or not), malty (or not), hoppy (or not) liquid substance. If you can't pinpoint exactly what it is you love about beer and the drinking thereof then you are no good to me as a brewer.
This is an observation from experience. All the best brewers I've met have been beer fans first and producers second. Conversely, brewers with a strong brand focus -- regardless of the size and age of the their breweries -- almost always make a lesser grade of beer. When a professional brewer names one of their own as their favourite beer, they've failed the test. In fact if they can name any beer as their favourite, they're probably not to be trusted. If their social media streams are full of cool quotes and funny stories from The Wacky World Of Beer then the chances are they're making crap. It's the brewers who post pictures of brew kettles and hop pouches that are worth keeping an eye on, as well as the ones who can't be arsed with this social media nonsense in the first place. An infectious joy in the nitty-gritty of beer production and consumption is what's required. If you don't have that, step away from the mash tun and do something else.
No Irish brewery shows the mercurial spirit of beery variety more than White Gypsy. Anything goes here: black to gold; session to imperial; ales and lagers in British, Belgian, American, Scandinavian and German styles, and every combination thereof. It's delightfully random and almost always perfectly executed. White Gypsy Doppelbock is a case in point. I had missed this beer when it was launched last year and I understand it's gone out of production again, but Sally from the brewery kindly donated a nip to me at the Franciscan Well Easter Festival last month.
The colour is a tad on the pale side for the style, I think: more a red-gold than ruby-brown. There's an odd but alluring raspberry balsamic aroma. First bite reveals a straight-up crisp grain husk sweetness buoyed up on a smooth and slightly boozy base with only a faint prickle of fizz. This malt fest is given no more than a sprinkle of herbal noble hops. The overall effect is of a rich, wholesome nutritious beer, one with superb drinkability.
Producing something like this takes more than a fancy logo, clever slogan and some bullshit tweets about Ben Franklin.
Black Damnation II: Mocha Bomb - *Origin: Belgium/Netherlands | Date: 2011 | ABV: 12% | On The Beer Nut: September 2011* This imperial stout had me thinking about the role of coffee in bee...
2 weeks ago