Sunday, 29 July 2012

The Hype Machine

Are things really kicking off for Birmingham beer fans?

Is it finally happening?

Yes, I think it is and they are.  [Remember to edit this sentence, it's rubbish.] [But isn't it deliberately rubbish? Isn't it slightly knowing?] [Yes, I suppose you're right, OK leave it.] [Thanks]

This issue of the Mediocre Hype Machine will give you cast-iron proof that things are on the turn:

i) Brewdog Birmingham
No visible sign of building work at their John Bright Street site yet, but we I believe they are still due to open sometime in August.  This will bring uber-trendy beer in bottles and on tap.  Plus, we should get new beers when they are new, rather than eons after the rest of the country.

ii) Purity's new Craft bar
Just round the corner from Brewdog, we now have news of a second new craft venue, which will be run by Purity team.  Twitter brings news that it will feature a range of craft beers, in tandem with a top-notch food offer.  This sounds good.

iii) Brumcraft
In July 2013, Birmingham will have it's first Craft beer festival, organised and delivered by Birmingham beer fans.  No longer prepared to wait for the very best new beers to make their way to our City, a small group of determined activist have raised their heads above the parakeet and are now in a position to deliver a new kind of beer event - one peppered with the very best flavour combinations, from the very best new brewers.  This will be a big one.

iv) Off licences flexing their muscles
I dare that say that both Stirchley Wines and Cotteridge Wines would rather that their competitor was located a bit further away; BUT given their close proximity, it's Birmingham beer fans who are reaping the benefits.  There is no doubt at all that Cotteridge and Stirchley are driving up each others' standards - bringing in more and more of the World's best beers to us, at an ever quickening pace.  The work of new and hitherto unseen breweries is arriving day by day, and the choice of so many great beers, means that personally I no longer feel like I have to live a compromised beer existence.  Dan in 2005: "What beer shall I sup at home tonight?  Samuel Smith? Freeminer? Erdinger? Marston?; Dan in 2012: "What beer shall I sup at home tonight? Mikkeller? De Molen? Kernel? Summer Wine?  No contest.  I may be asking too much, but I hope this level of competition continues, as it will surely breed a newer, larger audience for quality beer in Brum.

v) Better beer in existing pubs
Dare I hope?  Is genuinely high quality beer starting to become commonplace in venues like the Old Contemptibles, and the Wellington?  This may seem facetious, as these are two pubs in the City, already known for a premium beer choice; however.... they were are not always home to the very, very best brands.  But in recent weeks, we have seen Hawkshead and Moor at the OC's, Red Willow and Buxton at the Wellington and Tiny Rebel at the Post Office Vaults.  I accept that these are very small, isolated examples, but I am still taking them as a positive.  In fact, when I popped into the Welly on Friday, they had a mini-festival underway, featuring beers from a fistful of London's new breed of microbreweries - By the Horns, Hackney and the Botanist, in addition to Happy Valley from Macclesfield.  Now I'll leave aside the fact that the Wellington failed to publicise this via social media, which would have been helpful, but you can't have everything.  Pubs of Birmingham, we want these top beers, we want them regularly and we want to know when you have them.

vi) Cherry Reds
A tiny venue single-handedly taking on the apathetic giant, this Kings Heath venue are doing a great job with their range of great beers on offer and by hosting beer tasting events - to my knowledge they are the only venue really doing this at the moment.  This outfit are a model of independence and integrity.  More please.

vii) Beer Geek
6 months (or so) on from their launch, they are now an increasingly established local brand, available in loads of places across the region.  More please.  On a personal note, I would like them to brew a delicious beer in my honour, but I realise that does sound a bit grandiose and bit git-like, now I come to type it.

viii) Birmingham Post
Talented journalist/cum PR Manager Keith Gabriel neatly captured the gathering beer zeitgeist in the City, in this article.  It's clearly a great piece of writing and clearly mentions all the most important beer figures in the City - namely moi.  But seriously folks, when the Birmingham Post starts noticing that beer is on the up, beer really is on the up.  In actual fact, the article in question appears to have been heavily plagiarised (in theme and tone) by me, in this post, here.  Whoops.

So then, lots to be positive about.  Are there any more?

1 comment:

  1. I do wish we had a local new brewery producing beers to the calibre of Red Willow, Brodies, Magic Rock, or a myriad of other breweries who get me really excited because I believe they have the technical skill and creative ability combined with proper investment in ingredients to make beers you can rely on to be well made and interesting. Seems to be something about the Midlands that just isn't producing that type of brewery even though there have been start-ups. Not quite sure what the problem is, but suspect is must have something to do with location, whether it's economics/demographics, or just a lack of pre-existing brewing skill in these parts, i.e. brewers who have apprenticed elsewhere then go on to set up their own brewery near to where they're from/where they've already been working - so if there's no trailblazing brewery in our region where potential brewery-owners of tomorrow can cut their teeth, there's no impetus for those exciting breweries to open round here...