QUICK ONE: Strange Times

Illustration: Shining beer.

If we’re in a bubble, then the bubble is getting bigger, or getting crowded, or leaking, or something.

There is a prevalent idea that beer geeks over-estimate the impact of what’s going on with beer at the moment because they’re — we’re — in a kind of echo-chamber. We’re inclined to agree with that up to a point, but then things like this do keep happening.

1. A friend from university who as far as we recall had no particular interest in beer back then, has started a brewery in Japan. A proper one, and apparently successful. He was in the UK recently taking part in a collaboration brew with a well-established British outfit. It’s all over Facebook and it weirds us out, in a quite delightful way. (Hakuba Brewing Co.)

2. Another old pal tells us that his best friend from secondary school has opened a specialist beer shop, where he was himself working the occasional shift until recently. (The Dronfield Beer Stop.)

3. Through social media, Boak made contact with a bloke she used to teach in Poland when he was a nipper. He turns out to be a huge beer geek and home brewer. He’s serious about it and deep into the detail, too: he asked for her help tracking down a particular strain of Brettanomyces for a project he’s working on.

4. And, finally, there’s this kind of thing invading the Twitter feeds of people who are, to varying degrees, kind of famous:

Of course we’re particularly prone to notice this stuff and, as another university friend used to say in response to the platitude ‘It’s a small world’, ‘Well, it’s a small socio-economic class.’ Nonetheless, we reckon this all suggests there’s road left to run, however riddled with ennui some veterans might feel.

4 thoughts on “QUICK ONE: Strange Times”

  1. On point 2: Nearly every week I talk to another person who’s keen to open a “craft beer” shop/bar/venue. The majority of these folk are very very far from being Beer Geek material, often they know next to nothing, but have seen what’s going on – have had a can of Gamma Ray – and “seen the light”. This is a mixture of the light of “hey, this craft-beer stuff, it’s pretty awesome actually isn’t it” and the light of “hmmm… perhaps there’s a business in this”. (And not meant in a cynical way at all… of all these folk only one or two have been 100% about business with no craps given about the product – most have been mostly about the beer.)

    Most of these folk are at a “beer journey” point I was at maybe 8 years ago, maybe a bit more. But now in an environment where it isn’t considered quite to crazy to open a bar or beer shop, in fact it may well be considered kinda savvy and cool by the common garden variety British human. New high-street indy venues are opening apace, looking good, and and inspiring others. (See also: micropubs.)

  2. There may well be a bubble but it doesn’t cover the whole country. A keg/cheap lager pub in the centre of Birkenhead added five handpumps recently. They lasted about two months. Cask beer is still missing from a large number of Birkenhead town pubs. Craft beer almost unknown.

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