When beer meets bikes

WHEN BEER MEETS BIKES

Budvar and BOLT motorcycles are teaming up to create a custom ‘Budvar Bike’. We hear from BOLT’s Andrew Almond

What was the idea behind BOLT?
Motorcycling is an ever-evolving culture and I wanted to create a new type of store that resonated with the current scene of motorcyclists emerging in London. At the time there was a new wave of custom culture taking shape using relatively affordable vintage motorcycles and along with it came new types of riders. What appealed to me was the accessibility and creativity it inspired. The scene grew globally and at that time there was not a place for it in London. Traditional motorcycle stores held little interest for me; they essentially stocked practical garments that lacked the style and quality. I wanted to curate a store that brought together items that reflect the styles of clothing I wanted to wear, proper leather jackets, vintage inspired helmets and independent motorcycle owned brands. There was also a need for a social space as riding bikes is as much about hanging out with friends and building communities. I wanted to create a space the progressed the scene, to host events and exhibitions and champion the scene as well as the rich cultural heritage that preceded it.

Were you a Budvar drinker before the project came about?
Yes. My favourite has long been the Budvar Dark, which balances the strong flavour typically associated with stouts with the freshness and lightness of lager.

Why did you choose the Jawa bike?
There was really only one option for the Budvar Bike, it had to be a JAWA, a classic Czech design. Originating from Prague and starting production in 1929 they grew to exert a huge influence in the motorcycle world. By the 50s they were exporting to over 120 countries and new overseas factory were introduced in India. With typically small capacity engines, they reflected the economies of their time providing an affordable means of transport. They really stood out in racing though, coming into their own in Motorcross and Speedway.

What are your plans?
I really want to showcase the range of crafts that are at the heart of everything we do at BOLT. It is a great opportunity to utilise our network of collaborators for each aspect of the build, from a hand-fabricated frame to hand-painted design and hand-tooled leather seat. I’m not sure if I have ever seen a JAWA exhibited in a custom motorcycle show, so I really want to build something that changes people’s perceptions. It’s the ugly duckling story! The JAWA we have is a very utilitarian design but there is real beauty hidden within elements of its design, we want to showcase these aspects and create something truly original and stunning.

We’re really only keeping the engine (which will be overhauled) and the wheels. The frame will be chopped and remade to a hard-tail design – this means removing the rear suspension in favour of a rigid rear-end. Being 6′ 4 we need to adapt the frame to fit my proportions, stretching it out while being careful not to dwarf the engine which is just 250cc. We will custom make a tank, fenders and seat pan to fit, using vintage parts and following the styles of the 1930s JAWAs. The overall design however will be very contemporary, referencing the past but looking to the future.

What are the main challenges with the build?
Time is the challenge as this involves managing many different people working on different parts and ensuring it is all brought together on deadline. The other main challenge is building a bike that is both a show bike but which will handle a 1000-mile road trip, this is especially the case considering the small capacity two-stroke engine. Anyone with experiences of JAWAs will tell you they are best ridden with a tool roll in hand, so it will really be a test of our skills to make this bike fit for the journey.

Who are you using for the specialist fabrication and sign writing?
We work with some of the best crafts people in their fields and this bike will really be a joint effort involving many of the BOLT Family. This is the fun part for me, involving lots of friends in one project, bringing together different elements in a distinct vision. Jake Robbins who traditionally fabricates impossible to find parts for early motorcycles will be handling the fabrication work. I always like to give Jake projects that differ from his day-to-day work; he is real creative at heart and has a great balance of form and function. We work with Jake Collier for our leather work and he manages the costumes for major films, making everything from hand-carved centurion breast pieces to the latest Marvel character costumes. Dapper Signs is a traditional sign writer with a distinct style who will hand-paint the bike.

You visited South Bohemia and the Budvar Brewer recently for some inspiration of the build. What did you take from the trip?
It was great to get a sense of the area and the brewery. We took a chairlift up in the snow to the top of a mountain overlooking a medieval town. The landscape there is beautiful; the castles and architecture give South Bohemia this amazing timeless feel. Visiting the brewery was really enlightening too – far from the big commercial operation that you might expect. It felt more like a family business. I was surprised to find the things used to brew the beer, like the huge copper brew kettles, were actually incredibly beautiful. All these things come from an approach to brewing that hasn’t wavered over the centuries, a belief in staying true to principles and techniques and in doing what it takes to create a beer of the best quality. I often feel that I put business interests aside in order to do things that I am truly passionate about, and it was inspiring to see that ethos at work in a large brewery too.

And what about the beer? How was drinking Budvar straight from the tank in the cellars in Budweis?
The experience of tasting the beer from the tank was a real surprise. I genuinely did not conceive that beer could taste that good. While the flavours came alive, it was the freshness that really amazed me. It was like drinking spring water! You could literally throw a pint down in one. During what I am sure will be a gruelling journey, the idea of the running down to that cellar for a celebratory pint will be a big inspiration.

Finally, you’re riding the finished Budvar bike through Europe to the Budvar Brewery in the Czech Republic. Where are you going and what are the challenges going to be?
We’re planning a route that avoids any major roads or motorways as the bike will not be able to cope with the high speeds. This is the exciting part: the road less travelled. I’m looking forward to passing through the towns and countryside as we ride our way across the different countries. Motorcycling for me is very much about friendships and I plan to stop off and show off the bike as we go. We will drop into fellow motorcycle stores Hermanus in Bruges and Rusty Gold in Amsterdam and hopefully pick up a few riders who will join us too. The main challenge will be not to blow the engine, running at high speeds for long times can be fatal for two strokes which prefer a more varied tempo. I expect the journey to be a real challenging but that is the adventure! It will not be easy, by any means, but the harder it is the better the first beer will taste once we arrive!


Brighton Tap Takeover 2018 returns even bigger

Brighton Tap Takeover 2018 returns even bigger

South coast’s biggest craft beer festival returns bigger and better from April 27-29 – and we’ll be there doing talks and enjoying ourselves

 

Brighton will be the centre of the beer world once again this April, when the third annual Brighton Tap Takeover (https://www.taptakeover.co.uk) takes place in the city, from April 27-29.

The festival sees 15 city centre pubs (up from 14 last year) dedicated to craft beer for the whole weekend, creating the world’s biggest craft beer pub crawl. Over 100 different craft beers, from 18 breweries, will be available on tap. A huge variety of brews will be available from porters to extra pales as well as several gluten-free and vegan beers.

Breweries taking part include New Zealand’s Yeastie Boys, Somerset’s Wild Beer Co, Leed’s North Brew Co, Newcastle’s Wylam and London’s One Mile End, Gipsy Hill and Four Pure. First Chop from Manchester and Berkshire’s Wild Weather will be bringing 100% vegan brews to this year’s festival.

Leading Sussex breweries are also represented at the festival with local favourites Two Tribes, Laine Brew Co and Lost & Found, taking over a pub each for the weekend. Others, including Hand Brew Co, Burning Sky and Cloak & Dagger, will showcase craft brews at the Fiddler’s Elbow. The North Laine Brewhouse serves again as the festival hub, where wristbands and maps will be available – as well as a brand-new range of keg beers for sampling across 36 separate taps.

The theme of this year’s festival is ‘collaboration’ with attending brewers bringing some of their most exciting collaborative beers, most of which will be pouring in Brighton for the first time. The North Laine Brewhouse will collaborate with Resident – Brighton’s premier record shop – producing a mash-up of sound and brewing, with a special music-inspired beer and festival playlist.

In addition to the beer takeover, festival goers can look forward to special entertainment and events curated by the guest breweries in most of the venues. For those keen to find out more about craft beer and how it’s created, several talks from leading beer writers and educators will take place at the North Laine Brewhouse, and other participating pubs across the city. Attendees are urged to visit www.taptakeover.co.uk for the full listings and beer information.

The Brighton Tap Takeover is a collaboration between leading Brighton-based pub operator The Laine Pub Company and Sussex beer distributor The Beer Collective. More than 4,000 beer lovers attended last year with the number of visitors expected to grow in 2018.

Gavin George, CEO of Laine Pub Company commented: “It’s going to be an incredible weekend. Festival goers will experience the unique ambience of Brighton as they wander from pub to pub, sampling great beer, tasting delicious food and enjoying great music. By taking craft beer out of the usual festival venues: conference centres, town halls and marquees, and putting it back in the pub where it can be enjoyed best, the Brighton Tap Takeover is one of the most unique beer festivals in the country.”

Niki Deighton, Director of the Beer Collective, added: It’s so exciting to have all of these amazing brewers in our city for the whole weekend, I can’t wait to see which beers they will bring, especially as this year’s theme is collaboration. But as well as great beer, each of the brewers will be bringing their own personalities to the party by putting their own stamp in each and every pub.”

Wristbands for the event – which come pre-loaded with four beers, a can to take away, swag bag and priority entry are available now for £15 fromwww.taptakeover.co.uk.


Wylam @ Dead Wax Social
Yeastie Boys @ The East Street Tap
North @ The Earth & Stars
First Chop @ Hope & Ruin
Wild Weather @ The Victory
Wild Beer Co @ White Rabbit
Two Tribes @ The Black Lion
Four Pure @ The Mesmerist
One Mile End @ The Mash Tun
Lost & Found @ The Western
Gipsy Hill @ The Fountain Head
Hand Brew Co, Kiln, Cloak & Dagger, Downlands and Darkstar @ The Fiddler’s Elbow
East London Brewery @ Bath Arms
Laine Brew Co @ The Tempest

Festival Hub (20-strong keg wall from all brewers) @ North Laine Brewhouse


Good Beer Hunting’s Uppers & Downers Festival returns

Good Beer Hunting’s Uppers & Downers Festival of Coffee Beer Returns to London this May

Good Beer Hunting is bringing its Uppers & Downers festival of Coffee Beers back to London for the second year at Mick’s Garage in Hackney Wick on Saturday May 19

 

Following a sold-out successful event last year, Good Beer Hunting is bringing its Uppers & Downers festival of Coffee Beers back to London for the second year running. The event, which will take place at Mick’s Garage in Hackney Wick on Saturday the 19th of May, will more than double in size this year. Taking place over two sessions, festival-goers will have the chance to experience some of the most progressive coffee and beer hybrids ever to be poured in the UK, created by some of its top brewers and roasters.

Uppers & Downers is a collaborative coffee beer series of events created by Good Beer Hunting’s Founder and Director Michael Kiser and World Barista Champion Stephen Morrissey. The goal of Uppers & Downers is to focus on coffee as a specialty brewing and blending ingredient with origin. At this event you’ll experience coffee beers in a range of unexpected styles, extraction methods, and blending techniques that showcase the innovative flavours, aromatics, and textures in the finished beer.

The following brewers will be pouring at this year’s Uppers & Downers London:

Beavertown, Boundary, Brew by Numbers, Cloudwater, CRATE, Fourpure, Fyne Ales, House Brewery, Magic Rock, Moor, Northern Monk, Siphon, Siren, The Five Points Brewing Company & Weird Beard.

We’ve also so far confirmed the following roasters who will be collaborating with our brewers and serving up coffee at the festival:

Artisan Roast, Caravan, Clifton Coffee, Dark Arts Coffee, Dark Woods,Has Bean, North Star, Or Coffee, Roasted Brown, Roundhill, Square Mile & The Roasting Shed.

Uppers and Downers recently celebrated its fifth successful year Good Beer Hunting’s hometown of Chicago. Over 1000 people gathered at Thalia Hall in what was its largest event to date. GBH Founder Michael Kiser explained why he’s thrilled to be bringing the festival to London once again in 2018:

“Bringing Uppers & Downers to London for the second time is both an incredible outreach and homecoming for us. We’ve had people from all over the world venture to Chicago for the fest, and because of that interest and awareness we’re now able to bring it to them, which creates a platform for local brewers and roasters to showcase their own beer and coffee cultures, and experiment through collaboration. And no place outside the States has been more important to us than the U.K.”

World Barista Champion and Uppers & Downers Co-Founder Stephen Morrissey recently moved back to London and added:

“People drink coffee and beer differently here in London than other cities, the line between the two considerably more blurred. Coffee shops open later and seem to serve the community till it’s appropriate to have a drink, which happens far earlier in the day than in the US. Bars have coffee machines, coffee shops have beers and as evident by this year’s festival – the companies behind them are fans of each other, and work together often. I can’t wait to the results of that work at this year’s festival.”

Uppers & Downers London will take place between 11am-3pm and 4pm-8pm on Saturday the 19th of May at Mick’s Garage in East London’s vibrant Hackney Wick neighbourhood. Tickets for each session are £45 (plus booking fee) with a discount available for members of Good Beer Hunting’s subscriber community, The Fervent Few:

http://goodbeerhunting.com/events/2018/may-19th-uppers-downers-festival-london


Brewers Market Beer Festival returns to Leeds Indie Food Festival

Brewers Market Beer Festival returns to Leeds Indie Food Festival

This 11th – 12th May, Brewers Market Beer Festival will return to Canal Mills for its fourth year and a new summer slot during Leeds Indie Food

 

This 11th – 12th May, Brewers Market Beer Festival 2018 will be returning to Canal Mills for its fourth year and a brand-new summer slot which to coincide with the opening weekend of Leeds Indie Food Festival; Leeds’ biggest city-wide, month-long independent food and drink festival.

Showcasing the very best of local and international craft beer over the course of two days and three sessions, this year will be their biggest yet. Swapping their usual November slot for the warmer climes of May, Canal Mills’ outdoor space will allow for even more craft beer and street food, as well as a pop-up gin bar hosted by Bathtub Gin, a selection of natural wines from Wayward Wines and DJs.

Joining them over the weekend will be a hefty bunch of brewery partners including the likes of: Verdant, Kirkstall, Northern Monk, Thornbridge, Vocation, Black Lodge, Zapato, Track, Buxton, the Tall Boys bottle shop with many more to be announced over the coming weeks. Over in the food department, there will be the likes of Mussel Pot, Little Bao Boy, Rabbit Hole Coffee, Sandos, MorMor and Little Red Food Truck.

“This year we’ve moved from our traditional November slot to the summer, which will give us the chance to use more of Canal Mills and therefore bring in more breweries than ever before! We’ll also have a wider selection of food and extras thrown in for 2018”.

“With more exciting breweries to be announced in the coming weeks, it’s going to be our biggest edition of Brewers Market yet” – Matt Long, Events Manager at Canal Mills.

 

SESSIONS

Friday 11th May 2018

5pm – Midnight

£8 (+ £1.20 BF)

Saturday 12th May

12pm – 5pm

£8 (+ £1.20 BF)

Saturday 12th May

6pm – Midnight

£8 (+ £1.20 BF)

Links:

https://www.ticketarena.co.uk/events/Brewers-Market-8

https://brewersmarket.eventgenius.co.uk

http://leedsindiefood.co.uk


I Am A Brewer: Cask launches new canning machine

I AM A BREWER: Cask launches new canning machine

Cask Global Canning Solutions – the inventors of micro-canning equipment for craft brewers – has released another revolutionary canning line

 

NOTE: I AM A BREWER is Original Gravity’s brand that looks at industry news.

Cask Global Canning Solutions – the inventors of micro-canning equipment for craft brewers – has released a uniquely versatile canning line.

Cask’s new Micro-Automated Canning System (mACS) packages both carbonated and uncarbonated beverages. The mACS also fill cans of varying heights and diameters – from 163 mL to 568 mL in volume – and the changeover between cans can be done in less than 30 minutes. 

“The mACS,” says Cask founder Peter Love, “gives brewers the ability to create new revenue streams and beverages. They can quickly shift to new can sizes for current products, or jump from beer and cider to soft drinks and uncarbonated beverages such as cold brew coffee, wine and energy drinks.” 

Dead Armadillo Craft Brewing (Tulsa, Oklahoma) is now using the mACS to can its beer and a new product.

“When you add a liquid nitrogen doser to the mACS,” says Todd Phillips, Dead Armadillo’s Director of Operations, “you can use it to can coffee. So after many months of R&D, we’re entering the nitro cold-brewed coffee market with some friends at a local coffee roaster. It’s a brave new world for us that wouldn’t have been possible without Cask.”

“The mACS supports a larger array of can sizes than any line we have ever seen,” Phillips adds, “and we can change from can sizes, lid formats, and product types with minimal effort.” See the brewery’s mACS in action:  http://www.cask.com/2018/02/dead-armadillo-takes-beer-macs/

The mACS  has electric cam-driven seamers, three CO2 pre-purge heads, three fill heads, and a post-fill rinser and dryer. It measures just 7 by 2.5 feet and has a very small footprint of 17.5 square feet. It has a recipe memory feature that automatically sets the fill settings for speedy transition between different beverages.

The mACS conveyor belt can feeder (as found on Cask’s larger ACS machine) allows for adding such automated pre- and post-packaging components as a depalletizer, inline date coder, nitrogen doser, pressure-sensitive labeler, shrink sleever and other components.

“Since it can be equipped with an array of automated components,” Love says, “the mACS also enables our customers to scale up the automation of their canning process as they grow and diversify.”

The machine’s unique filler technology combines fill-level sensors with proprietary foam-control valves.  Those features produce filled cans with extremely low dissolved oxygen pickup of just 5-20 parts per billion — better or comparable to large-scale and much more expensive canning and bottling lines.

The mACS fills 20+ cans per minute and 50+ cases per hour with just one operator.

Get more details and see the mACS package cold-brewed coffee at http://www.cask.com/2017/12/meet-macs-micro-cannings-most-flexible-system/


Bristol brewery seeks £1 million in crowdfunding

Bristol brewery seeks £1 million in crowdfunding

Left Handed Giant is currently in the closing stages of an ambitious crowdfunding campaign that includes a partnership with a Michelin-starred chef

 

Bristol Brewery Left Handed Giant is currently in the closing stages of an ambitious crowdfunding campaign, with the company looking to raise £1million to fund its Finzels Reach development.

The campaign launched at the beginning of May and hit the initial £400,000 target within 24 hours. Stepping up its ambitions, the brewery is now looking to raise up to £1 million to build the brewpub project, which will feature a taproom, brewery and a restaurant partnership with one of the city’s most exciting chefs.

Bruce Gray, Managing Director at Left Handed Giant, said: “The aim of this brewpub project is to create a world-class facility where communities of friends and investors can have a real input into the day-to-day of the business, as well as having the opportunity to drink locally brewed fresh beer.”

The funds raised will be spread across different projects with the bulk being put towards to development of the Brewpub at Finzels Reach, which will also feature a new dining offering.

Left Handed Giant have teamed up with Bristol Michelin-starred chef Pater Sanchez-Iglesias, who will be operating a restaurant from the first floor of the development as well as developing a separate offering for customers of the brewpub in the neighbouring kitchen.

Peter Sanchez-Iglesias adds: “Forming this partnership with such a well-respected force as Left Handed Giant and creating food to go with their beer is an awesome project to be involved with. The development kitchen will evolve and enhance everything we do at Casamia, with our hyper seasonal dishes on an ever-changing menu, using the best ingredients, cooking it to perfection and then finding out what it needs to make it better.”

Left Handed Giant, which gets its name from the old legend that the Avon Gorge was carved by hand by the original left handed giant, has been part of the Bristol brewing scene since 2015. 

The brewery’s crowdfunding campaign closes on March 30th and those looking for further information or to invest should visit : https://www.crowdcube.com/companies/left-handed-giant-brewing/pitches/q47aGb


Five Points launch crowdfunding campaign

Five Points launch crowdfunding campaign

The Five Points Brewing Co, an independent craft brewery in Hackney is launching its first round of crowdfunded investment on Friday 9th March

 

The Five Points Brewing Co, an independent craft brewery in Hackney is launching its first round of crowdfunded investment on Friday 9th March, offering the general public a chance to become a Five Points Funder and receive shares in the business. The funds raised will be used to meet growing demand, accelerate growth and bring everything back to where it all began; the brewery based on the landmark ‘Five Points’ of Hackney.

The crowdfunding campaign will be live on the Crowdcube platform with a target to raise £750,000 of investment. The capital will be used to open the first Five Points Taproom at the iconic Pembury Tavern, as well as investing in state-of-the-art new brewhouse equipment and fermentation tanks which will triple production capacity volume, and which they hope will allow them to meet their ambitious plans to increase sales from 2 million to 6 million pints a year (34,000 hectolitres). A new research and development brew-kit at The Pembury Tavern will be used to develop new recipes and research innovative brewing processes. The fundraising will also mean investing in their growing team as well as expanding UK distribution and developing their growing export business.

The Five Points Brewing Co was founded by two local Hackney residents who have always strived to invest in their local community as well as their business. The Five Points was the first brewery in the UK to be an accredited Living Wage employer, sources electricity from 100% renewable sources and helped set up an apprenticeship scheme for young, aspiring brewers at Hackney Community College. This is what the Five Points team have continuously aimed to create; tasty beer brewed with the highest standards of quality and a company ethos which is accessible and inclusive to everyone.

Co-Founder and Managing Director of The Five Points Brewing Company, Ed Mason, comments, “We founded The Five Points in the heart of East London with a commitment to the community, and the prospect of inviting the community to join us on our journey is really exciting. What we love about crowdfunding is the ability to welcome on board 100s, maybe 1,000s of passionate beer lovers who will be literally invested in the success of our company”.

The decision to seek investment comes as the brewery is struggling to keep up with high demand. They reached capacity in late 2016 and have since been brewing some of their beer with an independent family-owned brewery in Belgium. This investment will enable the brewery to treble production capacity in Hackney and bring back all brewing production to London. Crowdfunding will also allow the Five Points to open their first Taproom, allowing this long-cherished ambition to become a reality.

In speaking on the Crowdfunding Campaign, Ed Mason, said “Investing in the company now will give us the resources to really take Five Points to the next level. We opened our brewery in the heart of Hackney, in 2013 with a simple ethos; to brew modern, flavourful, accessible beers with integrity, and we are delighted that our beers have become a staple of taps and shelves across London. We believe that we have the potential not just to cement our position as one of London’s favourite brands, but to become a truly national brand.”

“Crucially, as we grow the business into a truly national craft beer company, we will continue to give back to and support the community. We will remain a proud London Living Wage payer, continue to invest in our apprenticeship scheme for trainee brewers, and support local charity and arts projects”.

As part of the crowdfunding campaign, The Five Points is offering a number of exclusive rewards for investors, ranging from free birthday pints, to up to 25% discount in their taproom and online, and exclusive shareholder invites to brewery recipe development and hop-picking experiences – to investors receiving shares in the company.

The minimum investment is just £10.

The campaign will run for 30 days from Friday 9th March.


Original Gravity to launch in Toronto

Original Gravity to launch in Toronto

Original Gravity magazine is expanding overseas and will launch in Toronto on May 17. Toronto-based Stephen Beaumont, one of the world’s most respected beer writers, will be its Editor-in-Chief

 

Daniel Neilson, publisher of the leading British beer publication Original Gravity, and Stephen Beaumont, award-winning author or co-author of 13 books on beer, including the best-selling World Atlas of Beer, are pleased to announce the launch of a unique Toronto edition of Original Gravity!

Over the past decade or more, the beer and brewery scene in Toronto has grown dramatically in both numbers and overall quality, but drinks journalism in Canada’s largest city has not kept pace with these changes, being largely confined to beer news websites and blogs. Original Gravity seeks to change that, with outstanding columns and articles from many of the beer world’s top writers, including the magazine’s editor-in-chief, Stephen Beaumont.

“Toronto has been crying out for a top beer publication for a long time,” says Beaumont, “So when Daniel approached me with the idea of launching a local version of Original Gravity, a magazine I have long admired on my visits to London, I leapt at the chance.”

Although English by birthright, publisher Neilson has roots in Canada, having worked here and being husband to a Canadian, so expanding Original Gravity to the shores of Lake Ontario was a natural move for him.

Original Gravity in the UK is a respected publication with an interesting angle that appeals to all readers, from the merely craft beer-curious to die-hard beer enthusiasts,” says Neilson, “When I decided to launch in Canada, there was only one person to approach, and that was Stephen Beaumont, one of the world’s most respected beer writers. As editor-in-chief, Stephen will bring his vast expertise and brilliant writing to the magazine.”

To start, Original Gravity will be published quarterly, with three issues in 2018 beginning with a spring/summer edition that will launch on May 17. Featured will be Toronto-centric versions of columns popular with Original Gravity’s UK audience, including ‘The Art of Beer’ and beer style focused ‘The 6-Pack,’ as well as longer-form articles by Beaumont, Ontario Craft Beer Guide co-author Jordan St. John and others.

Specific details for the launch of the Canadian Original Gravity are still being worked out at the time of writing, but we couldn’t wait any longer to get out word that Toronto is finally about to get the beer magazine it deserves!

For further details:

Stephen Beaumont, stephen@originalgravitymag.com

Daniel Neilson, daniel@originalgravitymag.com

For advertising enquiries:

Jessica Olivier,jess@originalgravitymag.com


A pub table and a beer

A pub table and a beer

The pub is a mediator to the events life can often throw in your way. By Jessica Mason

 

It is a setting where we can unravel as people — where we can laugh and where we can cry without judgement. And it can, on some occasions, nurse our hearts and minds back to health.

I didn’t know my real father. He was Indian-Malay and I only met him a handful of times. Even though my mum had a court order to keep him away, if he showed up on our doorstep he’d be welcomed in. Sometimes, he would bring stories. Other times, new siblings.

By the time I was a teenager, the man with the leather trousers who I had seen approximately five times in my life had completely disappeared.

When I was 20 and the internet was just getting going, a friend and I tracked down my old surname and found an uncle of mine living in Germany. He’d been the best man at my parents’ wedding. He didn’t know where my father was either, but he asked me to visit. It was the first time I had ever been in an aeroplane and flying out to meet him and his son, a cousin of mine, I felt a deep surge of hopefulness. I was going to discover a family I had never known.

Two days later, after running barefoot down the streets of Dortmund at night, flagging down a car and spending time in a police station, I was flown back to the UK chaperoned, for safety reasons, by the British Consulate. My uncle, after telling me rather a lot about his brother, “the person whom everyone liked,” took away my naivety and replaced it with a fear I had never known.

My university pals, who had helped in my escape, took me to the pub and, within the walls of the Mash Tun and the Black Boy in Winchester, they nursed me back to life with love and beer and the unspoken familiarity of friendship that bound us like a family of our own.

At age 26, to my bewilderment I became a parent myself. So when an out-of-the-blue phone call led to information on my real father’s whereabouts, I was wary. I greeted the event not as the animated optimist, but as a protective, yet numb sage. I suggested meeting on neutral territory – a pub.

I knew I had mere hours with a man I didn’t know. But with a hundred questions in my head none of which could be answered by someone intent on impressing me, I would need to put my questions aside and make him feel at ease enough to remove his veneer. But how would I do that? Strangely enough, I did know. I needed just two simple props: a pub table and some beer.

I recognised him immediately. Not because the crumpled wedding photograph of the smiling man I’d been carrying around for years resembled the homeless man in front of me, but because we shared the same eyes. Two deep dark pools of despair looked back at me like a foreboding reflection. His carrier bag of possessions was at his feet and he was wearing a suit at least three sizes too big for his frame and a red baseball cap. He told me he had taken the day off of work especially to meet me and that he was “a business consultant”. I smiled and bought him a pint, saying I hoped he wasn’t going to be missed at the office that day.

That evening, he introduced me to his friends and I bought the rounds. His friends, who also had their work bags or kitbags stowed beneath the table, regaled me with proud stories of my father’s cheekiness, his humour and willingness to help others. Traits I’d never personally been privy to, but nor could I dismiss as non-existent. The man had nothing, but he clearly still had mates.

When I took the train back home that evening, I thought about the dimly-lit pub and the things I had learnt on the premises. It had only taken an hour to deduce that the man before me was, quite possibly, the worst man I had ever met in my entire life. He wanted to be admired, only the version of himself he had conjured didn’t really exist. He was the Moon Under Water, personified. He was not the father of which anyone might dream. Yet, in his presence, while my heart silently moved from my throat to the pit of my stomach, hopefulness was replaced by avid fascination. He was a performer and the pub was his stage. I didn’t need to like him; I didn’t need to know him. He was the jester in his court and I was simply his audience for the night.

And there is no remorse. Because we are all kinds of people, drifting through life and some of us are better at getting things right than others – these hostelries we have in Britain taught me that. They strip us down to the bare souls of the people we are and they bind friendships and relationships. They make us people of mirth and they remind us that being ourselves is enough. They are there for the good days and the bad, because life does that – it just keeps throwing things our way.

And even when things don’t go our way, there’s something we can do about it. We can reset our perspective and, within mine, there’s always a pub table and a beer.

R.I.P. The man who gave me my eyes.

/ @drinksmaven


Dark Star Brewing bought by Fuller's

Fuller’s buys Dark Star Brewing

Brighton craft brewer Dark Star has been bought by Fuller’s, it was announced this morning

 

Brighton craft brewer Dark Star has been bought by Fuller’s, it was announced this morning.

The full details of the deal have yet to be revealed, but the move came after a period of the two breweries working successfully together. It’s believed that Dark Star has been exploring various sources of financing to fuel continued expansion in an increasingly competitive market and that the acquisition was one of the alternatives being considered.

Many commentators (including us here at Original Gravity) have predicted that 2018 will see a sharp increase in the number of craft breweries acquired by bigger players. While sales of craft beer overall continue to rise sharply, from a brewer’s perspective trading conditions are increasingly tough in a market that some estimates put at over 2,000 UK brewers.

Dark Star was founded in 1994 in the cellar of Brighton’s Evening Star pub and went on to be a pioneer of the UK craft beer movement, with Hophead being an early champion of the US hop-forward pale ale style.

Fuller’s, founded in 1845, has won respect for its stance on the burgeoning craft beer scene, becoming a founder member of the London Brewers’ Alliance, recreating old recipes from its archives and recently launching ‘Fullers & Friends’, a series of collaborations with breweries including Thornbridge, Cloudwater and Fourpure.

QUOTES FROM PRESS RELEASE

Brewing will continue at Dark Star’s Partridge Green site, Managing Director James Cuthbertson will remain at the helm and the brewer will continue to operate as a standalone business.

James Cuthbertson said: “Since our inception in 1994, we have continuously grown from those early days in The Evening Star Pub in Brighton to the current brewery in Partridge Green. The partnership with Fuller’s, another independent brewery with fantastic heritage and great beer at its very core, will allow us to take the brewery to the next level. The deal means we will continue to do what we do, but gives us huge opportunities to brew more one-off small batch beers hand-in-hand with exploring the export market and expanded bottle and can formats.”

He added: “We’ve always described Dark Star as more of a hobby that got out of control than a business, an ethos that will remain at the centre of what we do and what we’re about, after all, beer should be fun and accessible.”

Simon Dodd, Managing Director of The Fuller’s Beer Company, said: “Following on from the success we have had with our acquisition of Cornish Orchards, we have been looking at similar opportunities to invest in and work with young, exciting companies that have a similar ethos and commitment to quality as Fuller’s. Following discussions with James and the team at Dark Star, we could see that we could add real benefit to the Dark Star business and it provides a great new range of delicious cask beers that will enhance the Fuller’s portfolio.

“Both Fuller’s and Dark Star are brewers with quality and taste at their heart. I just can’t wait to see how Dark Star innovates further with the support of Fuller’s and access to our expertise in brewing, retailing and business elements such as finance, purchasing and IT systems.”