Tag: The Rake

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Odessa in London

Almost a year ago now I went down to Otley Brewing in South Wales and did a brew with them.  Unlike many collaborative brews, they made me come up with the recipe, select the hops and everything.  When I co-created Brew Dog’s Avery Brown Dredge with Zak and Mark, they did most of the work and I just said things like, “Yes. very good.” This time I was on my own.  Nowhere to hide.  (There’s a nice video of the brew day of you follow the link above).

Inspired by Martin Dickie’s ginger nuts (we were very hungover) I decided I wanted to brew an imperial stout with ginger.  And chocolate.  And then mature it in whisky casks for a year.You may say that’s showing off.  I say it was cruising for a fall.  As I kept chucking handfuls of crystallised ginger and Belgian chocolate drops into the copper when Nick Otley wasn’t looking (unaware that Nick was doing the same when I wasn’t looking) I was genuinely worried it wouldn’t work.

For ten months, some of this beer sat in bourbon barrels and some in mead barrels.  Nick finally tasted it last weekend and after he stopped saying ‘wow!’ (which took a while) he said it was pitch black, and very warming.

Tomorrow you get a chance to see if we pulled it off or whether I should stick to writing rather than brewing.  Odessa Imperial Stout is launching in four London pubs, and Nick and I are touring them to give it a try in each one.  Each pub gets either the whisky or the mead finish, randomly chosen.  So if you can, it’s worth trying at least three pubs.  The beer will of course be on sale all day until it runs out.  But if you want to see me or Nick (save the difficult questions for him) our rough timetable is as follows:

1.       The White Horse, Parsons Green, between 1pm & 2pm
2.       The Rake, Borough, between 3pm & 4pm
3.       The Jolly Butchers, Stoke Newington, between 5pm & 6pm
4.       The Southampton Arms, Kentish Town, between 7pm & 8pm

I’ll be tweeting events for as long as I can focus.  Though after the first couple of pints of this stuff, I may well ask someone to take my phone off me.

See you there!

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Celebrating the Beer Hunter

This month the Brewery History Society releases a very special edition of its magazine, focused on the life and work of Michael Jackson, the Beer Hunter.

When I won UK Beer Writer of the Year in 2009, it was a particular honour because it was the first year when the award was named after Jackson.  And it was even more of an honour some months later when, as the winner of that award, I was invited to guest-edit this collection of pieces about Michael and his immense contribution to beer appreciation and beer writing.

There are more details of the result here, and you can download my introduction here.  But in a nutshell: the BHS’ Tim Holt came up with the idea, and suggested we approach various writers with topics they might want to cover.  With one exception, everyone we approached immediately came back and said yes, and delivered their pieces promptly.

I took a while to get around to reading the collection we’d assembled.  But when I finally did, I read the whole lot in just about one sitting.  When I was judging the beer writers’ awards last year, there was so much to get through we had to skim-read the entries first time around to whittle them down.  With such a big pile to get through, it was rare indeed to find a piece that you ended up reading the whole way through, and left you disappointed that you’d got to the end and there was no more.  Every time that happened, you knew you had a winner from the 400+ entries in front of you.

I’m not just being obsequious here, but that happened with each one of the pieces of writing in this collection.  What makes it even more compelling is the way it builds, so you turn to each new chapter going, ‘What, he did that as well?’  It truly is staggering to see Michael’s entire contribution to beer writing and beer appreciation, even the welfare and development of beer and brewing itself, summarised so comprehensively and so well.

We’re launching the collection at The Rake in Borough Market, SE1, on Sunday 27th March at 6pm – I only just found out that, appropriately enough, this is the anniversary of Michael’s birthday.  Tim Holt, continuing his excellent job at making this whole project happen, is trying to get as many of the writers as possible to attend. Mark Dredge and I will definitely be there.  Others would have to travel from further afield, but include Zak Avery, Roger Protz, John Keeling, Jeff Evans, Carolyn Smagalski, John Richards and Martyn Cornell.

The magazine goes out free to BHS members and costs £4.50 otherwise.  If you can’t make it on the night, I guess you can get them from the Brewery History Society website.

Hope to see you there.

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Hardknott comes to the Rake

We used to call him Woolpack Dave, because he ran a pub called the Woolpack, and wrote a thoughtful blog on life as a publican, which earned him the runner-up spot to Young Dredge in Best Use of New Media at last year’s Guild of Beer Writers Awards.
Yeah, he looks friendly.  And he is.  Most of the time.
But Dave also brewed in his cellar, and soon realised that making rather than selling the stuff was where his true vocation lay.  It is a statistical fact 79% of all brewers north of Birmingham are in fact called Dave, so Dave fit right in.
Now, just because he no longer runs a pub called the Woolpack and instead runs a the Hardknott Brewery, he expects us to call him Hardknott Dave instead of Woolpack Dave.  Well, I suppose it’ll catch on, but he’ll always be Woolpack Dave to his longtime followers.
Anyway, Dave his bringing his beers to London next week, with his long-suffering partner Woolpack/Hardknott Ann (Following them both on Twitter is like eavesdropping on an online George and Mildred style marriage sitcom.  Sitting across from them in the pub while Ann rolls her eyes at some of Dave’s observations and they bicker over the remains of the packed lunches Ann lovingly prepared for their day out is like being front row in a really funny Alan Bennett play).  
Come and meet them at the Rake next week and you’ll see what I mean.  They’ll be there from 4pm onwards next Monday, 28th June, talking about the beers on offer. 

These consist of three ales on hand pump:

  • Fusion – a 4% ginger beer that has had chilli added to the mix.
  • Dark Energy – a 4.9% ‘sort of a stout perhaps, dark and fruity dry hops’ in Dave’s words 
  • Continuum – their 4% ‘standard’ beer, dry hopped in the cask

From the cellar there’ll also be Infra-Red, a 6.2% IPA (apparently ‘hoppier than a bucket of frogs’)

And in bottle there’s Granite (Barley Wine style) and Aether Blaec (Islay whisky barrel-aged stout).  
Then only one of these beers I’ve tasted so far is the Aether Blaec, but it’s one of the finest whisky-aged beers I’ve had – packed full of flavour, but incredibly smooth and welcoming.  Dave’s an independently-minded bloke, and I suspect all the above beers will carry a personal streak, something that could possibly become a bit of a Hardknott trademark.  
See you there.

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Don’t mess down the Rake

With thanks to my mate BLTP/Gargarin for bringing this to my attention, there was a story in the Guardian the other day about how former manufactured band singer, M&S pants model and all-round national treasure Myleene Klass has been cautioned by police after brandishing a kitchen knife at youths who were in her garden, peering through the windows, late at night.

Leaving aside the Daily Mail-lite debate on the wisdom of regarding such behaviour as criminal or not, Ms Klass is clearly quite tasty in more than one sense of the word.
The best bit about it though is that to illustrate the story the Guardian used a photo of Myleene they had on file. BLTP, eagle-eyed as ever, quickly spotted where the photo had been taken:
Want some, do yer?
The Rake does occasionally get a few twats in being raucous. And while the staff certainly don’t need any help in handling this kind of behaviour, if I was Glyn I’d be sticking up this press clipping as a deterrent to anyone who fancied creating a bit of bother. I for one would certainly obey anything Myleene said…