As regular readers will know I am a huge fan of the beers produced by Brew Dog based near Aberdeen.  Their Punk IPA, 5am Saint and Hardcore IPA are all excellent beers, although you have to be a serious hop head to really enjoy the Hardcore at 9.2%.  Although the brewery is only 4 years old, its beers are a national and international success, and they have opened two bars, in two of Scotlands biggest cities, Aberdeen and Edinburgh.   They are now looking to expand the bar operations to a 3rd site in Glasgow, and develop a new eco brewery down the road from Aberdeen at Peterhead.    They are attempting to raise £2.2 million through their “Equity for Punks” share issue, a venture they have attempted before, but the financial climate at the end of 2009 meant they only raised a third of their target.  With shares costing £23 each, with a minimum of four, its not too expensive to get involved either.  So when your partner next complains about you spending too much money on beer, you can now suggest that you spend it on the brewer.

I like a brewer with a sense of humour and Spitting Feathers from Cheshire have released a range of beers under the banner “Ministry of Beer”.  It is a brewery I have seen in several pubs, but never tried personally.  The brewery intends to make a point that the beer duty escalator is damaging the pub trade, something that is not hard to prove.  The first tranche of beers which are released at a rate of one per quarter, is made up of “Fools Gold” (a golden single hop beer), Red Tape (a ruby ale),  False Economy (a 5 stage hopped pale ale) and Dark Arts (a smooth dark beer).  All are 3.8% ABV, except for Dark Arts at 3.5% (the summer beer), which is named after the propaganda that beer is bad for you.  It is breweries like these two which make writing about beer more enjoyable when compared to the dry publicity which large brewers put out.

One larger brewer who can’t be called dry is Wells and Youngs with their current “Flashheart” Bombardier Campaign, one I mentioned a while ago.  In a recent article, they fully admit they are targeting the 35+ age group who will remember the original Blackadder character and who will have “more mature taste buds”.  One surprising revelation is that the £4m they are spending is more than the companies annual net profit.  That really is putting the whole pot on red in poker terms, but I suspect if it got my attention as a pretty perfect profile fit for their target market as well as it has, then many more will have been tempted to try the beer and the roulette wheel will come up on the rouge.  They aim to double volume over the next couple of year, good luck to them.

The very large brewers don’t try and make life easy for themselves.  Heineken UK has recently announced a new minimum order of 3 kegs a week of beer and cider.  Those who can’t will be forced to order biweekly or use local wholesalers where the discount is less.  This is fine if you are a higher footfall pub, but a smaller pub will be forced to order less frequently and have less fresh beer or pay local higher prices.  They cite the high costs both financial and environmental of small deliveries, I suspect however it is more the former.   Big business wants to save money and if others suffer then so be it.  Not right, but sadly true.

We finish off across the channel in the north of France, in new spot titled “Drinks you’ve probably never tried”.  This week it is Calvados, the french apple brandy distilled across the Normandy region.  The brandy is typically made from over 100 different types of apples for a single run, with a choice of sweet, tart and bitter fruit making up the mix.  The taste is generally well rounded and smooth, never leaving you in doubt about its apple origins, with other fruit tastes also present.  The production is strictly controlled regarding vessel used, number of distillations, defined apple varieties and ageing.  The product gets its classification from the age, Fine is 2 years plus, Reserve 3+, VSOP 4+ and XO 6+.  A good VSOP will set you back £40+ for a bottle.

You can get Calvados from Oasis in Hebden Bridge or Czerwiks in Brighouse and a 70cl “Fine” will cost between £18 and £27 depending upon quality.  A wider range can be found online.  Personally I think Daron Calvados Fine at £21 online is an excellent introduction to the spirit.   It was the first bottle received as a gift and one I have brought many times since.

Happy Supping until next week.

  1. Sabine Becks says:

    Nice post. I really agree on beer campaign are been mainly targeting people aged 35+ maybe they thought its easy to brew them :P.

  2. I love Brew Dog beers, specially the punk IPA