So Who Are the Usual Suspects?

Claude Raines as Renault in Casablanca (1942).

In a comment on that Jeff Alworth piece about British beer, Barm put into words something we’ve noticed as a permanent background grumble in the blogoshire:

The pub­lic­i­ty… goes to those brew­eries with well-thought out mar­ket­ing strate­gies, ambi­tious export pro­grammes and PR agen­cies… So you shouldn’t form your pic­ture of what is going on in Britain based on the UK mass media, or on beer blogs writ­ten by a small num­ber of extreme­ly pas­sion­ate extreme beer drinkers.

Of course it’s not only the bloggerati/crafterati who have their favourites – just look at win­ners of CAMRA’s var­i­ous beer com­pe­ti­tions over the past cou­ple of decades.

On the whole, we think the brew­eries that get the most col­lec­tive atten­tion from whichev­er quar­ter tend to deserve it because their beer is reli­ably good and/or they do inter­est­ing things – that is, inter­est­ing things with their beer, not pub­lic­i­ty stunts. It’s the wis­dom of the hive mind. (Or stu­pid­i­ty of the herd, depend­ing on your point of view.)

This has been on our minds for a while which is why, at a beer fes­ti­val in Jan­u­ary, we made a point of drink­ing only the prod­ucts of brew­eries that ‘get ignored’, as the grum­blers have it. There was noth­ing wrong with beers from Branscombe Vale, Exe Val­ley or Top­sham, to name three, but they were lit­er­al­ly noth­ing to write home about, and not just because they were in tra­di­tion­al styles: they weren’t as excit­ing as real­ly good pints of Fuller’s Lon­don Pride or Harvey’s Sus­sex Best. Blog­ging about them would be like review­ing reams of paper on Ama­zon.

But we want to explore this a bit more, so, with­out over-think­ing it, please tell us below:

  1. which UK brew­eries get more than their fair share of atten­tion and
  2. which get unfair­ly over­looked.

To min­imise the effect of the hive mind, we’ll keep com­ments in mod­er­a­tion and, assum­ing any­one responds, will make them all vis­i­ble at 16:30, UK time.

70 thoughts on “So Who Are the Usual Suspects?”

  1. It only seems fair that we join in too so…

    Usu­al sus­pects: at the moment, ‘every­one’ (i.e. the most inter­est­ing writ­ers) seem to be fix­at­ed on Cam­den, Beaver­town, the Wild Beer Co and Mag­ic Rock. We men­tion the lat­ter two in Brew Bri­tan­nia, and will be men­tion­ing the oth­er two in our 2015 Brew Bri­tan­nia update, cos they’re inter­est­ing in var­i­ous ways.

    And, as we’ve said above, we’re not sure there are many brew­eries that get unfair­ly over­looked. We’ve always been impressed by J.W. Lees beer but the only per­son who seems to like them, or at least to write about them, is Tan­dle­man, so maybe there’s one.

  2. The large south­ern region­al brew­ers seem to get more atten­tion than equiv­a­lents up north, not that id real­ly want to cham­pi­on them. Equal­ly we hear more about small Lon­don start­up than north­ern equiv­a­lents (north­ern monk for eg) . Brew dog cant change a bot­tle label with­out a dozen blogs dis­cussing it so mas­sive­ly over hyped. Look­ing local­ly great heck, mallinsons, arguably ilk­ley all under­rat­ed. Kirk­stall spring to mind but they are play­ing a long game only bot­tling one beer at the mo so not much for those out­side the area to talk about. my local cam­ra group bang on about a brew­ery id pre­fer not to give pub­lic­i­ty of nam­ing but are frankly crap but theyd be com­plete unknowns out­side of the area. Oh and I fear mag­ic rock and hawk­shead will appear on someone’s over­rat­ed list so I’ll get my dis­agree­ment in ear­ly.

  3. From a pure­ly Lon­don per­spec­tive, Cam­den fits cat­e­go­ry 1 per­fect­ly – yes, they make some decent beer but dear God do they (and their fans) like to make it sound like they invent­ed brew­ing.

    Redemp­tion, on the oth­er hand, rarely seem to get a men­tion – despite (IMHO) mak­ing some of the best ‘tra­di­tion­al’ beers in the cap­i­tal.

  4. I’ve always thought Hold­ens get over­looked – when they are pro­duc­ing great Black Coun­try bit­ters and mild in a sim­i­lar way to Bathams – it’s frus­trat­ing they don’t have a social media pres­ence and their beers (like Bathams) aren’t seen often out­side the Mid­lands, but I guess their busi­ness mod­el works for them and, like Bathams, they don’t feel the need to put it out there and dis­trib­ute their beers. But I miss get­ting a pint of some­thing like Gold­en Glow just as much as I miss Bathams – yet no-one else in the beer twitterati/blogosphere seems to talk about them? I would say it’s per­haps because they aren’t mak­ing “extreme” beers, but look at Bathams – they are a well-revered tra­di­tion­al fam­i­ly brew­ery grant­ed near-myth­i­cal sta­tus; why do Hold­ens not pick up sim­i­lar acco­lades?

  5. There’s only so many murky, oxi­dised, over­ly bit­ter and under/over car­bon­at­ed 330ml bottle/can dressed in love­ly labels I can take. Then read­ing about how amaz­ing those brew­eries are from peo­ple tanked up on free booze at launch par­ties irks some­what when i’ve paid £4.50 for an undrink­able bot­tle of faulty swill.

    I realise the top­ic is who is over­hyped and I haven’t actu­al­ly named any­body. If I could say the whole region of Lon­don is over­hyped I would prob­a­bly encom­pass most of the brew­eries I’m think­ing of. Par­ti­zan being an excep­tion as a brew­ery that fits into the love­ly label cat­e­go­ry but is also one I’ll buy a bot­tle of when­ev­er I see it as I like them very much)

    Over­looked: Wild Beer Co.

  6. Not nec­es­sar­i­ly over­rat­ed but you’d some­times think Beaver­town and Siren were the only two brew­eries to have opened in the last ten years! Along­side Brew­Dog and Wild Beer, but they have been a bit more unique in their approach/brewing so you can see why they would gain more pub­lic­i­ty..

  7. For me, the fol­low­ing are brew­eries who’re reli­ably good, but don’t overt­ly “play the mar­ket­ing game” (at least in my opin­ion), whilst mak­ing inter­est­ing high qual­i­ty beers

    Salop­i­an
    Bris­tol Beer Fac­to­ry
    Cro­mar­ty
    Siren
    (I might add a few more when I think of them)

  8. There are brew­eries that just get more than their fair share of being talked about – gen­er­al­ly because they’re seen as hip for some rea­son: in that cat­e­go­ry I’d put Beaver­town & Cam­den, at the moment (the search­light of hip­ness is always on the move). Then there are those that have a bet­ter rep­u­ta­tion than they deserve, i.e. that over-promise & under-deliv­er; in that cat­e­go­ry I’d put Wild and Ker­nel.

    Brew­eries that get unfair­ly over­looked: I don’t think Red Wil­low are rat­ed as high­ly as they should be, but the out­stand­ing nom­i­nee in this cat­e­go­ry has to be Tick­ety­brew: they nev­er get any atten­tion, despite doing just about every­thing ‘right’ (dis­tinc­tive USP, dis­tinc­tive and typog­ra­phy-heavy labelling, wide and inno­v­a­tive range of styles, 330 ml bot­tles…). Is it because they haven’t gone big on keg­ging, or is it just a North/South thing – or a London/Not Lon­don thing, to be more pre­cise?

        1. doesn’t mat­ter. if the name of your brew­ery is an unfun­ny pun, you’re about as craft as a pint of slater’s top tot­ty.

  9. Usu­al sus­pects:
    Thorn­bridge
    Mag­ic Rock
    Ker­nel
    Beaver­town
    Bux­ton
    Red­wil­low

    Under-appre­ci­at­ed:
    Otter
    Joule’s
    Holden’s (amongst fam­i­ly brew­ers)

  10. Not sure I am sat­is­fied it has much to do with “hive mind” so much as clever busi­ness folk who most skill­ful­ly man­age the prop­a­ga­tion of infor­ma­tion. Giv­en one of the most impor­tant foun­da­tion­al char­ac­ter­is­tics of the beer expert is access to the jun­ket, pro­mo­tion­al tours, etc – and only cer­tain brew­ers can offer them the result­ing dis­course is pret­ty nat­ur­al. Lay­er on that in house social media staff why wouldn’t the dis­course be manip­u­lat­ed? EP Tay­lor would have admired it all great­ly.

  11. OVERRATED:

    I’m gonna call it – well made, yes, but it’s been a long time for me since a Jaipur *zinged* and on that score I feel Thorn­bridge gets more praise than it deserves.

    Goes with­out say­ing that Brew­Dog get more *atten­tion* than they deserve, but I admit Punk IPA has so hiked the lev­el of the dis­tress pur­chase that in my eyes they have been – and con­tin­ue to be – a major force for good.

    (In Lon­don at least, Punk is wide­ly avail­able even in cor­ner shops.)

    Of the Lon­don murky crowd, I think Beavertown’s Gam­ma Ray is wild­ly over-praised. The flavour is good, but the hops taste hid­den by the haze. Con­verse­ly, their 8 Ball Rye IPA is beau­ti­ful, so it’s evens.

    UNDERRATED:

    Rooster’s seemed to me over the last five years not to get near­ly the atten­tion it deserved, though ear­ly signs in 2015 are that this is chang­ing quick­ly with their can­ning roll-out. I’m delight­ed for them.

    Oakham make the very best pale ales in the coun­try – pin bright, clean, bit­ter. They win major CAMRA awards and get sol­id con­tracts (e.g. M&S) but nev­er seem to attract the fan­boy *buzz* oth­er brew­eries get. I think they deserve dis­ci­ples.

    Back in Lon­don, Pres­sure Drop doesn’t have the hype of the Bermond­sey crowd, which is a pity because their Pale Fire bests BBNO and even Four­pure efforts in my book (though I love Four­pure pils just like every­one else).

    1. I wish Oakham would make some more hawse­buck­ler or what­ev­er it was called. All their oth­er beers taste very sim­i­lar. I love Cit­ra as much as the next man, but its every­where at the moment.

      Even crap­py pubs that don’t real­ly “do” real ale have cit­ra on.

      Same could be said of Dark Star Hop­head.

      1. Cit­ra is far from “every­where” out­side a stone’s throw from Cam­bridgeshire. It’s scarce here in that Lon­don.

        And in any case, I see suf­fi­cient vari­ety in their wares – Cit­ra ain’t JHB ain’t Sea of Tran­quil­i­ty. I don’t rate Mompesson’s Gold (sp.?) but it is dif­fer­ent.

      2. oakham and dark star are, unfor­tu­nate­ly, not every­where. Per­haps in your tiny bub­ble they are every­where.

    2. I’ve nev­er real­ly liked Jaipur. Its too strong and too per­fumed. On keg it is ok, but on cask its undrink­able.

      1. Yet in every blind tast­ing I’ve tak­en part in or indeed seen report­ed, the cask ver­sion wins. The keg ver­sion is vast­ly infe­ri­or but you’ve already said you don’t like the beer, so there’s lit­tle mileage there.

        1. almost cer­tain­ly selec­tion bias. If you did a ran­dom sam­ple of the pop­u­la­tion, the results might be dif­fer­ent.

  12. We hear way too much about Brew­dog. My list of brew­eries that don’t get nowhere near enough cov­er­age is long, but includes Salop­i­an Brew­ery, Oakham, Har­bour Brew­ing Co., Old Chim­neys, Green Jack Brew­ing to name but a few.

  13. I real­ly like Beaver­town beers, but they do get a lot of cov­er­age. An obvi­ous can­di­date would be Brew­Dog too.

    I think if only from a his­tor­i­cal per­spec­tive, Zero Degrees gets over­looked as a craft brew­ery that was pro­duc­ing inter­est­ing beer for years before it became fash­ion­able to do so. Was delight­ed they got a nod in your book.

    Fun­ny you should men­tion Harvey’s, as their vari­ety of beer is gen­er­al­ly over­looked. So much more to them than a great pint of Best.

  14. nice one

    1. this is tricky as most of the most men­tioned brew­eries in UK do deserve it and most are actu­al­ly chron­i­cal­ly under-recog­nised in com­par­i­son to US brew­ers for e.g. Pos­si­bly Ker­nel & Brodies get over men­tioned in com­par­i­son to oth­er Lon­don that are bet­ter.

    2. Again tricky, I always try to men­tion those I think aren’t get­ting much attention…I prob­a­bly don’t know about the oth­ers! Red­church and Grain spring to mind. Stew­art and Pilot, cro­mar­ty, elixir.Hopcraft and Steel City ( a lot of these are men­tioned in rate­beer cir­cles but dont see as much in the blo­goshire). Wiper & True and Moor.

    3.There are also some that are men­tioned a fair bit but deserve even more atten­tion: burn­ing sky, bux­ton, brew by num­bers, mar­ble, tem­pest

  15. A tru­ly bril­liant brew­ery that I hard­ly ever see men­tion of in blogs or press is Oakham, mas­ters of the cit­rusy ses­sion beer but also great in oth­er styles too, and they have a fair sized oper­a­tion. ( I could list some won­der­ful small brew­eries but there is no point in bemoan­ing their lack of pres­ence as they are too small to have much reach beyond the imme­di­ate local­i­ty). The only brew­ery who had a lot of hype but whose beers dis­ap­point­ed me is Arbor. There are oth­er obvi­ous can­di­dates for in-your-face self pro­mo­tion and fan­dom but I like their beers and the press is ulti­mate­ly good for rais­ing the pro­file of the indus­try, so they’re fine by me.

  16. To keep this all in one place, a cou­ple of sug­ges­tions from Face­book:

    Celt Expe­ri­ence. Bad name, lit­tle pub­lic­i­ty, but superb beer.’

    Thwait­es: I know they’re not trendy or any­thing, but I’ve nev­er had a bad drink of any­thing that has their name on it or the Crafty Dan incar­na­tion. Greene King for “the usu­al sus­pects.“ ‘

    And one from an email we received from a read­er a cou­ple of weeks back: Celt Expe­ri­ence are over­rat­ed and get lots of atten­tion because their brand­ing is good.

  17. I think some brew­eries that don’t fit exact­ly into craft or fam­i­ly brew­ery miss out. For me, brew­eries I love that don’t seem to get a lot of love are:

    Lyme­stone
    Great Heck
    West­er­ham
    Chapel Down
    Mallinsons

    There are lots of oth­ers I’ve tried at least one real­ly good beer from, but haven’t had a chance to try more as yet. Hav­ing a week­ly beer sub­scrip­tion def­i­nite­ly helps me appre­ci­ate just how many good brew­eries are out there though.

  18. Here in Wirral, Brim­stage sell every­thing they can brew with­out any prob­lem. They stick to Wirral, Chester and Liv­er­pool. Their Scare­crow bit­ter is how Land­lord should taste and Rhode Island Red has flavour and a depth that is far supe­ri­or to Hawk­shead Red (which I like).
    I agree with the plau­dits for Joules and Hold­ens.

    1. Thought Brim­stage were fan­tas­tic when I vis­it­ed Liv­er­pool, wish they would send some 2 East anglia

  19. There is a lot of hype around a grow­ing num­ber of rock star brew­eries up and down the coun­try. Each one seems armed with legions of loy­al bloggers/tweeters devot­ed to their “tribe” and defend­ing the hon­our of the realm.
    The drum thump­ing gets hys­ter­i­cal at times and I often feel like grab­bing said con­vert and shout­ing
    ” It’s beer for crissakes, not a vac­cine against can­cer! ”

    I have at one time or anoth­er not enjoyed a beer from most of the much laud­ed brew­eries. So not going name and shame.
    Brew­eries like Green Jack, Pad­stow, and Orkney are prob­a­bly der­se­ving of a more atten­tion in my opin­ion.

  20. (I’ll sec­ond Roland’s call on West­er­ham. Their Grasshop­per on cask is sim­ply deli­cious. All beers well made.)

  21. If you read Lon­don based blogs, you’re going to hear about Lon­don brew­eries. If you read Man­ches­ter based blogs, you’re going to hear about Man­ches­ter brew­eries. That’s just the way it is.

    1. Mmm. Some truth. But equal­ly there is still buzz in Lon­don about Mar­ble despite the beers being – how to put this polite­ly? – in a tran­si­tion phase.

      1. I per­son­al­ly feel the mar­ble beers are still mas­sive­ly under­rat­ed- and don’t get the cred­it they deserve.

  22. Under­rat­ed old-school brew­eries: Lees, Tim­o­thy Tay­lor, Evan Evans, Felin­foel. (Great to see TT get­ting some recog­ni­tion – it’s been a long time com­ing.)
    Under­rat­ed “old new brew­eries”: Phoenix, Pic­tish, Abbey­dale, Roost­er.
    Under­rat­ed crafties: Siren, Oakham, Liv­er­pool Organ­ic, Celt Ex, Hopcraft maybe, plus T’brew of course.

  23. Some great sug­ges­tions here, I for one look for­ward to see­ing all the great blogs from all the bloggers/award win­ning writ­ers about these for­got­ten brew­eries that will sure­ly spawn from this com­ments thread.

    1. We’ll be touch­ing on that in a fol­low-up post but, yes, if Lon­don brew­eries get a lot of atten­tion, it’s pos­si­bly because blog­gers and writ­ers out­side Lon­don aren’t doing what­ev­er it takes to get peo­ple inter­est­ed in the brew­eries in their regions.

      1. Basic func­tion of pop­u­la­tion?

        What is it, about 15% of the UK’s pop­u­la­tion with­in the M25?

        Would the aver­age lev­el of edu­ca­tion, tech savvy­ness, and mon­ey to burn piss fart­ing about beer also be greater?

        There’d be a crit­i­cal-mass/net­work­ing type affect too.

        London’s sim­ply got more noisy opin­ion­at­ed beer gits than oth­er places. 🙂 And I don’t think they have an auto­mat­ic duty to get them­selves to the far flung cor­ners of the UK (any­where out­side the M25).

        [I don’t actu­al­ly think Lon­don is that much over-rep­re­sent­ed gen­er­al­ly, but maybe that’s just because I don’t pay it too much atten­tion to Lon­don folk. Over half the high-pro­file craft-scene brew­eries I can think of are out­side of Lon­don. [I do think it has too many not-very-good brew­eries with too high a pro­file.]]

        1. Lon­don has a big­ger catch­ment of drinkers and been­fits of close prox­im­i­ty for dis­tri­b­u­tion (split­ting dis­tro costs to get fur­ther afield) and good trans­port links to rest of UK; so more so than any where else they get writ­ten about out­side of their home turf. Also more blog­gers writ­ing about the beer=more blog­gers else­where want­i­ng to try the beer=self ful­fill­ing prophe­cy

          Birm­ing­ham is sec­ond biggest though only tenth the size of Greater London…though off the top of my head can’t think of many blog­gers in that area (plen­ty of rate­bee­ri­ans and untapp’ders though)

  24. No men­tion yet of Sur­rey Hills Brew­ery qui­et­ly pro­duc­ing great beers down south

  25. over-rat­ed” – none. this descrip­tor is nor­mal­ly is used by peo­ple who are upset that oth­er peo­ple like a thing that they think is rub­bish. just keep it under your hat (or just moan about it with like mind­ed mates in pri­vate) and let peo­ple get on with enjoy­ing what they like, kill joy. the world will not end, you can still enjoy the thing that you enjoy.

    under-rat­ed – pop­py­land. nor­folk leg­end. will remain under-rat­ed as he only brews 10k bot­tles a year and does’t want to expand. great beers though.

  26. I love Cit­ra as much as the next man, but its every­where at the moment.”… Nice­ly encap­su­lates just about every­thing that’s wrong about beer geek­ery.

    I agree that Oakham Ales are chron­i­cal­ly under rep­re­sent­ed by beer writ­ers. I sus­pect this is because they make the fun­da­men­tal mis­take of just doing what they do fab­u­lous­ly well with­out pan­der­ing too much to the gol­ly-wow fad drinkers.

    1. are they? Didn’t Cit­ra and Green Dev­il basi­cal­ly sweep the board on the blog­gers “beer of the year awards” a cou­ple of years ago?
      Didn’t Cit­ra just come run­ner up in CAM­RAs best beer of britain awards to much hul­laba­hoo?

      Its also name checked in main­stream media out­lets all the time.

      I think if you had to ask your aver­age beer drinker to name a good exam­ple of one of these new pale and hop­py beers, most would say Brew­dog Punk – but Oakham Cit­ra would prob­a­bly be next, ahead of any­thing Thorn­bridge or Beaver­town et al do.

      I swear some peo­ple just don’t pay atten­tion.

          1. well indeed, hence the irrel­e­vance of Tyson’s remark.

            I think most peo­ple who take any kind of inter­est in beer will have heard of Oakham and know exact­ly what they do – sell a wide range of very nice but often large­ly indis­tin­guish­able cit­rusy cask ales. As they’re more of a craft crossover brand, they’re avail­able in pubs that don’t real­ly “do” craft. As a result, 90% of the time, when­ev­er you see an Oakham beer, you know it will be the nicest beer avail­able in the pub.

            If there aren’t many sto­ries about them on blogs, its because they’re not doing any­thing worth blog­ging about. That doesn’t make them unknown or under­ex­posed by any stretch of the imag­i­na­tion.

  27. Ha. I don’t think you need­ed to wor­ry about the hive mind. This just con­firms that most of the crafterati have very fixed ideas. There are some obvi­ous con­tenders for over hyped but the fact is that some of them do make con­sis­tent­ly good beer whilst some of the so-called over­looked named on here don’t. Pos­si­bly why they are over­looked?

    There is plain­ly, as in most media cov­er­age, a North-South divide and, yes, it is tire­some hear­ing how the lat­est Lon­don murky is amaz­ing and awe­some, but I can’t see that chang­ing any­time soon.

  28. Tom Madeiros at Twick­en­ham Fine Ales and pre­vi­ous­ly at the excel­lent but defunct Grand Union is a fan­tas­tic brew­er who deserves more col­umn inch­es.

    I am not con­cerned about brew­ers receiv­ing too much, deserved, praise or oth­ers not gain­ing recog­ni­tion. I would like to see a large num­ber of micro brew­ers dri­ven out of busi­ness and writ­ers must tell the truth about the bad brew­ers and to metaphor­i­cal­ly put the boot in. (For Northen­ers this would be just about any Dave Porter 3 day train­ing course brew­ers)

    Thwait­es, bah and pah.

    1. Tom left Twick­en­ham last year and is now brew­ing for Quer­cus in Devon. Thank­ful­ly, his replace­ment at Twick­en­ham is just as fine a brew­er – Stu­art Med­calf, for­mer­ly with WJ King.

      And yes, Twick­en­ham is a brew­ery that doesn’t get the notice it deserves. Anoth­er one to add to the list, maybe, is Fuller’s – yes, it’s Lon­don-based like so many blog­gers, but tends to get eclipsed in the pub­lic­i­ty stakes by the newest-and-murki­est.

      Plus as with sev­er­al of the oth­ers men­tioned above, it is unfair­ly tagged by the crafterati as “bor­ing brown bit­ter”.

  29. A lot of ‘over-rat­ed’ and ‘under-rat­ed’ chat here, which I don’t think was the point of the orig­i­nal post.

    The usu­al sus­pects are the usu­al sus­pects and I don’t think I can add to the names already dis­cussed. There are brew­eries that get more credit/attention than in my opin­ion is tru­ly deserved, but there we are. In South Wales, every­one knows who Tiny Rebel are now, but how wide­spread is that knowl­edge oth­er­wise?

    I’m sur­prised that brew­eries like Waen, Colch­ester, Brick­works, Mighty Oak and (to a less­er extent) Celt Expe­ri­ence aren’t more wide­ly dis­cussed, and what about Salop­i­an? They make some real­ly inter­est­ing stuff but (because of their loca­tion?) are not talked about a great deal. I agree with the men­tion of Pres­sure Drop as well, but their rel­a­tive lack of expo­sure can be tal­lied with the avail­abil­i­ty of their best beers, in my view.

    Maybe we can sort all this out by sup­port­ing our very best blog­gers AND pro­fes­sion­al writ­ers to make a real fist of sup­port­ing the lit­tle guys. There’s no point every­one try­ing to do it by them­selves – it’s all just noise.

    1. A lot of ‘over-rat­ed’ and ‘under-rat­ed’ chat here, which I don’t think was the point of the orig­i­nal post.”

      You’re right – we are more inter­est­ed in cov­er­age, although, hav­ing said that, there’s some over­lap between over-rat­ed and over-exposed, as expo­sure tends to go with being rat­ed.

      1. Yeah, that was my think­ing. I don’t *real­ly* see the dif­fer­ence. Overrated/underrated vs over/under exposed – same dif­fer­ence in my book.

        Hamer men­tioned Tiny Rebel – I think they have seri­ous cred in “the scene” but agree they aren’t brack­et­ed in with Beaver­town, Mag­ic Rock et al. as one of the “buzz brew­eries.”

        I’d add Crouch Vale – Amar­il­lo was well ahead of the curve. But there again I’m not sure they’re inno­vat­ing enough *now* to get fresh buzz. But I’m always glad to see their beer on.

        1. But Brew­Dog, for exam­ple, get a lot of expo­sure from peo­ple who *don’t* rate them putting the boot in.

      2. The thing is, how many arti­cles can you write on a brew­ery that just does what it does, as well as ever, but doesn’t do any­thing par­tic­u­lar­ly news­wor­thy, like launch­ing a new Sai­son or some­thing?

        An Oakham Sai­son would be inter­est­ing. I deeply wish they’d bring hawse­buck­ler out on draught though.

  30. OK, I’m just not good at just keep­ing my mouth shut.

    Too much love for what they are beer-wise:

    - Adnams (but arguably the best of the “estab­lished” brew­ers)
    – Cam­den (ridicu­lous­ly so, but they’re in Lon­don… so…)
    – Many crap Lon­don micros (too many to name!)

    I will often enjoy beers from Adnams and Cam­den, they make some good beer. Camden’s head­line stuff is just bland, Hells is not even nice for a lager to me, and I _do_ enjoy a “good” (IMO) lager, Pale Ale is a pale shad­ow of the style. But they’re a good price, folk drink them by the buck­et­load, and thus def­i­nite­ly a good prod­uct – I’d put them on a bar in pref­er­ence to most macro-lager any day. Adnams on the oth­er hand man­age to keg reg­u­lar beers of more flavour inter­est than Cam­den but with­out the song and dance…

    Hm, maybe I should have put Adnams in the oth­er list?

    Bor­der­line are per­haps Beaver­town and Mag­ic Rock… but then again, IMO these real­ly are stand-out brew­eries for beer flavour and con­sis­ten­cy. When some­one hands me yet-anoth­er-fucked-up-hop­py-beer I tell them to go buy some­thing “equiv­a­lent” from Mag­ic Rock and taste along­side their beer. I hope they fol­low my advice, I pic­ture them then going off to have a qui­et sob in a cor­ner.

    Brew­eries I’d beat more of a drum about.

    - Adnams (fuck, I don’t even know my own mind)
    – Bux­ton (they do get some good ‘rec’ tho)
    – Grain
    – Moor
    – Redemp­tion
    – Roost­ers
    – Sum­mer Wine
    – Many good small brew­eries (includ­ing some in Lon­don) who real­ly can get the beers as good as any of the brew­eries men­tioned above but are prob­a­bly nev­er going to get the recog­ni­tion because they don’t know how the play the game, win the fans, or get their brand­ing right. Sad­ly it isn’t _all_ about the beer… life sucks, hey? Some will nail it even­tu­al­ly, many won’t. Some are hap­py small and unknown and don’t real­ly care. They’re prob­a­bly the hap­pi­er ones.

    Most­ly these do have a pret­ty good fol­low­ing, they make fan­tas­tic beer… I just think they get less air­time than less good brew­eries.

    Now… I hap­pen to dis­trib­ute most of those I’d beat more of a drum about. It’d be a bit bloody daft if I was sell­ing beer I didn’t high­ly rate though! That’s why I was hes­i­tant about post­ing real­ly… any­thing I say and do must now come with a dis­claimer.

    Grain is one of the few brew­eries in my region oth­er than Oakham that I think has a chance of stand­ing out nation­al­ly pure­ly on the back of the beer they brew (as opposed to size, price, or brand­ing). That isn’t to say there aren’t oth­er fan­tas­tic brew­eries, there are many that I like. But for rea­sons of style, con­sis­ten­cy, size, or just ambi­tion I don’t think they’re at the same lev­el of poten­tial.

    I’ve no doubt now offend­ed sev­er­al hun­dred peo­ple 🙂 Not to men­tion brew­eries I know and love who I’ve failed to put in the 2nd list!

    I don’t like this sort of thing because peo­ple will jump to the con­clu­sion that I par­tic­u­lar­ly hate or despise some brew­ery or anoth­er. There are very few brew­eries that I actu­al­ly have any rea­son to despise, and none of them are men­tioned in this text.

  31. Just think­ing about the brew­eries unfair­ly over­looked. Crouch Vale got a men­tion and their Brew­ers Gold is a crack­ing beer. Oth­ers worth a men­tion – Mauldons (espe­cial­ly Black­ad­der) at their Brew­ery Tap, Larkins, Mighty Oak, Bur­ton Bridge, Stringers, Hop Back, Wood­fordes and Saltaire. All pro­duce a wide range of beers which I’m hap­py to see on the bar.

  32. mar­wood “(For Northen­ers this would be just about any Dave Porter 3 day train­ing course brew­ers)”

    So that’s three of the North West/Yorkshire’s finest damned then. You heard it here: Mallinsons, Wil­son Pot­ter and Sil­ver St are all bob­bins.

    And that’s just off the top of my head.

    FFS.

  33. Cheers to Lor­raine & Birkon­ian for the good men­tions of our Brim­stage beers (Wirral, Mersey­side).

    As Birko/Steve sug­gests, we “don’t get around much“self- deliv­er­ing all we brew – keep­ing a close eye on our casks & beer qual­i­ty.

    We’re dip­ping toes into bot­tling on a small scale, but I don’t see us chang­ing much any time soon, so I guess we’ll remain under the radar for a while longer 🙂

  34. My local micro, Twick­en­ham Fine Ales, is now the sec­ond-old­est micro in Lon­don, pro­duces excel­lent “bor­ing brown” beers, is wide­spread in pubs around its manor, but because it’s in untrendy West Lon­don tather than in hip­ster East, North or South-East Lon­don, gets noth­iong writ­ten about it at all. Boo!

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