A Year in Craft Beer - A view from my Window
update from BrewDog's sales libertine Richard
You can invest in BrewDog at www.equityforpunks.com
Not really having much time to reflect, living life as we do at BrewDog in the tailwind of Captain Watt’s drive for the UK craft beer revolution. I took a rare opportunity last Sunday to have a walk round my neighbourhood; to take stock of the effect we (and those like us) are having on the craft beer revolution and gain some perspective for the mission ahead.
What I hoped to find was a kind of micro universe of how I would like every conurbation in the land to look by the end of 2010. And let’s be honest if I could not find it in my own back yard then I would be out on my ear because I had already pitched this concept to James.
So with Christmas firmly behind us...
...I set off into the snow to see what I could see.
After passing by Nobel’s Bar (only because it is still just before opening time), which has stocked 77 lager on Keg and Trashy Blonde on Cask since opening its doors again this year; the first stop as I turn the corner onto The Shore from the Links is my local deli Beets.
Now this used to be an altogether healthier establishment, run as it is by the ever sprightly Kyla who is half Leith and half LA by origin. However, now when you’re picking up your marinated tofu you can wash it down with a fine selection of ales...
This is what I call progress.
So after shooting the breeze and picking up a few essentials at Beets it was on to the first pint pit stop – and literally within a Stone’s throw of each other you have three of the best locals a hard working man could hope for: -
The Malt and Hops on the shore has stocked an ever changing cycle of BrewDog guest ales ever since we first started barking and what’s more, they are not afraid to push the envelope when it comes to ABV’s, beer names or complexity of style. (They receive this beer twice a month through our Direct Delivery facility, which will be expanding to cover an even wider geography in 2010 – call now to be added to the list)
Teuchetr’s Landing & Skippers with their frozen floating beer garden and roaring fires, offer Trashy Blonde on Cask in the bar all year round and Oysters on the half shell washed down with ZeitGeist black lager in Skippers Seafood restaurant.
These outlets are part of a small group that are supplied by Belhaven (who are a key Scottish wholesaler and carry a wide range of our cask, keg and bottle products) – if you own a bar and currently get your ale through them or if your local often has one of their trucks delivering into the cellar, then what are you waiting for – Demand the Dog.
Thirsty yet? Well just a short walk over the water of Leith is where I chose to have that first beer of the day (5am saint). Here in the “Locals of Locals” and the place where many a BrewDog “white label” prototype has been dissected, you’ll find the well informed and highly opinionated staff of The Roseleaf: – lead by the inimitable Jonny Kane Enquire. (He actually believes that bottle of Tokyo is his fist born son)
This bar is a shining example to all those “tied” venues that can only buy certain products, at a fixed price, through certain wholesalers. The Roseleaf is (in theory) one such bar but in practice (like us), pretty much ignores the rules and as a result has one of the busiest, warmest and well stocked hostelries in the land. More and more bars in the “local” are noting what they are doing and presenting more profitable and sustainable business plans, with interesting stock sheets to their lease holders. They are true trailblazers and I doff my cap to them.
The Roseleaf and many other independents like them are supplied by Wallace’s Express, who carry a broad range of BrewDog Bottles and are the largest independent wholesaler in Scotland – everyone’s local will have an account with them so make it happen people.
Mustn’t get to comfy...
On to Camelot (or at least in the Direction of Edinburgh Castle), where you pretty much have two choices in terms of which hill to climb - and which off license to visit. You can opt for the Leith Walk and Oddbins option, where it is a safe bet you will be rewarded with a Punk, a Paradox and a Trashy Blonde...
...or you can take the road less travelled and seek out Cornelius Beer & Wine on the ever lively Easter Road.
I can take no credit for this one at all, as Mr James Wrobel has been doing amazing things with craft beer in Edinburgh long before I was even a twinkle in Bracken’s eye. He has everything we have ever brewed and most of what everyone else is brewing of any worth, from all over the world. – This is Michelin* style purveying, in that it is worth a detour, – the rest of the outfit is a far more down to earth operation.
The only thing this fine establishment will soon be missing it its manager (Jo Tennant) as we are stealing her away to join us on the sales and marketing team from the beginning of Feb (more to follow).
So what’s left on this tour of my town? Well no revolution (craft beer or otherwise) could be proven to be truly underway and taking effect without proof of Innovation, without it being caught up in the beat of Live Music and without it finding its way into the hearts (and more importantly the Stomach’s) of its frontline troops
So Innovation: -
The Holyrood 9a opened its doors this year (just a short distance on from Cornelius) and was inspired by the US markets ability to offer multiple Keg and Cask offerings in any serious beer bar. Supported by the tech team at Belhaven and Brewdog they delivered a truly unique and beautiful font system with 18 different beers (3 of which are permanently Brewdog. This was the setting of our EFP launch last year and has already spawned the even bigger and better Dukes Corner in Dundee (Dundee’s first serious Craft Beer venue).
Support this venture because it is brave, up a hill and worth a visit; and because they are trying to bring you what you want. Tell them what they can do better because this is a group of individuals who want to listen and want to give the people what they deserve.
A Literal stumble (and I swear I only had a half a 77 at the old 9a), lies the den of (self professed) iniquity that is my nearest purveyor of dark beer, dark beats and dark women: -
Please note the second Blackboard on the cycle as a “mood setter”...
This “Punk as Fuck” venue will offer everything from ZeitGeist on tap, to Black Dog on Cask, and a rogue bottle of Tokyo* for the weary and curious traveller. All accompanied by live bands every night on the week
Bypassing the best cocktail bar in the world (Bramble), which still plays host to a rogue bottle of Speedball and some of the most outstanding bartenders the planet has to offer...
...I headed straight for their sister establishment; The Saint (which was frankly down the hill and on the way home). This is the perfect place to experience BrewDog in its many forms: - by bottle, by cask, in the batter of the fish and chips (77), brining warmth to a steamed pudding (paradox) or juts sharing a bottle of Tokyo with friends in front of the open fire.
So there you have it – A year in craft beer and admittedly a little more that a view from my window, but you can see my point? Through many different wholesalers and routes to market and in many different styles of venues, shops and restaurants, you can pick up a BrewDog or another great craft beer now and there is a real sense of us having an impact. I urge you to think of your top ten favourite hang outs shops or bars and encourage them to get in touch with us and find out how they can join the revolution and more importantly how you will be able to enjoy a your favourite beer in your favourite setting.
Invest in BrewDog at www.equityforpunks.com