Beer Podcasts I’m Listening To

While we’re all in the grips of coronavirus/COVID – hopefully you are all safe and well – for the most part I imagine there’s a bit more spare time going around. If not (and even if so) listening to a great podcast is a great way to spend time, relaxing and interesting at the same time.

Whether you’re catching up with recent beer and brewery news, looking to learn more about homebrewing, or looking to go off on a beer-related adventure, there’s plenty of options out there. I’ve picked out a selection here, but if there are any others you would recommend please comment below!

While you’re at it, why not try setting up your own podcast?

Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine

A weekly podcast that stands at 131 episodes at time of writing, so plenty to catch up on. Expect interviews with brewers and experts.

Brewers Journal

Right from the start this podcast covers the brewing world slightly more from the business angle – branding, marketing and the like. A great show to go beyond the beer itself.

Four Brewers

Trying beers and giving homebrewing tips – this podcast does it both. I’ve personally taken a lot of great advice from this one and would recommend it to anyone taking up this great hobby way of life.

Good Beer Hunting

Intriguing interviews with brewers across the industry with some amazing spin-off series too, from the history of brewing to how brewers are reacting to COVID-19. Well worth a listen.

Pubtrotters

Ah, the pub. I miss it so much, don’t you? So although this podcast inevitably won’t be updated any time soon, cast your mind back to a better time and think about the pub.

The Beerists

For a bit of fun and banter over some beer tasting, look no further. Sometimes it’s nice to not have to be serious!

Pellicle

If you’re not familiar with Pellicle it’s a beautiful website which doesn’t just cover beer (wine, cider and food too) and their podcast is a marvellous listen for anyone with an hour to spare.

Triple Hopped

Tasting and talking beers with some colourful and bold artwork – say no more.

What are you listening to? I’m always keen to hear recommendations about other podcasts to get involved with. Comment below or get in touch on Twitter, @craftynumber.

Prefer a read? How about trying some of these.

7 Books About Beer to Read Now

While most people have a bit more time on their hands, what better time to get stuck into a new book, and what better subject than beer? If you, like me, are looking for some learning, some tasting and some information then how about some of the list below:

1 – Tasting Beer: An Insider’s Guide to the World’s Greatest Drink by Randy Mosher

This is the perfect guide for anyone who’s interested in beer and wants to get to know more. “Everyone knows how to drink beer, but few know how to really taste it” – the blurb really sums it up and this book makes it clear, easily understandable and something you’ll come back to again and again.

2 – Craft Brew: 50 Homebrew Recipes from the World’s Best Craft Breweries by Euan Ferguson

A great collection for the homebrewer – if you’re not yet at the point (like me) where you can make up your own recipes, this book gives you everything you need to replicate some of your favourite beers at home. It should take you some times getting through all these, and hopefully you’ll have some serious fun doing so!

3 – Beer School: A Crash Course in Craft Beer by Johnny Garrett

This book is great for a beginner, something easily readable with great illustrations to keep you interested and entertained. It covers everything you need to know, and will give you a broad range of knowledge to get you started on your beer journey.

4 –The Little Book of Craft Beer: A Guide to Over 100 of the World’s Finest Brews by Melissa Cole

A great little guide to some of the headline beers to try in different styles – it might not be revolutionary to someone who knows a lot about beer already, but it’s a perfect companion to have to hand, both in its size and it’s very clear and well-illustrated layout.

5- The Brewer’s Tale: A History of the World According to Beer by William Bostwick

A fantastic read, one which gets you right to the heart of the author’s love for beer. This comes through clearly in the descriptions of his efforts to make beers through each chapter and for me was a really important book in the development of my interest in beers. I probably learned more from this book than any other, so would highly recommend.

6 – The Beer Bible by Jeff Alworth

Another guide to the world of beer for the enthusiast – a bit more detailed than others above, so I would say something for those who have more of a familiarity but are looking to expand their knowledge. For me, this definitely helped to expand my knowledge of types of beer, brewing and tasting.

7 – Comic Book Story of Beer: A Chronicle of the World’s Favorite Beverage from 7000 Bc to Today’s Craft Brewing Revolution by Jonathan Hennessey

Finally, a book that breaks everything down visually – this book tells the story of beer from it’s very beginnings to the present day. Comics are always going to be easier to understand than the long written theory, but this is something accessible enough for newer beer fans and more experienced drinkers alike.

I would love to hear from you if you’ve read any of these books, or if you’re planning to look them up now! Are there any other books you’d recommend? Leave them in the comments below, or get in touch on Twitter, @craftynumber.

7 Examples of Can and Bottle Art I Love

I’ve been looking back through some of the beers I’ve had over the last few months, and there’s definitely some attractive cans and bottles in the mix. That got me thinking – which were my favourite designs?

Anspach & Hobday The Cream Ale

7: Anspach & Hobday, The Cream Ale

I love the outline, cartoony but sort of old fashioned design of the characters here, and for some reason the fact that they’re baseball players just appeals to me. The illustration is similar to the rest of their core range (Porter, IPA and Smoked Brown) which reflect English gentlemen and explorers.

As for the beer itself, click the image above.

71 Brewing Breakfast Toast Stout

6: 71 Brewing, Breakfast Toast Stout

71 Brewing has a lovely logo, and a really nice website. I think the branding of this beer has changed since I had it but I love the main purple colour with the contrast of the blue, just hints around the can reminiscent of a set of blueprints.

Big Smoke Brew Jagged Sky Pale Ale

5: Big Smoke Brew, Jagged Sky Pale Ale

Bright and blue, with really simple and clear panels making the wording stand out. I also love the font and the Harry Potter-like silver lightning bolt.

Mondo & Yeastie Boys Ask for James Kveik Session Fruit Ale

4: Mondo & Yeastie Boys, Ask for James Kveik Session Fruit Ale

An epic voyage through the beer itself – there’s the idea of icy mountains hinting towards the Norweigan Kveik yeast used in making it, combined with the citrus fruits it is conditioned on. The northern lights in green and pink round it all off and make this a colourful masterpiece to look at while you enjoy.

Vocation Love and Hate New England IPA

3: Vocation Brewery, Love & Hate New England IPA

The contrast between the bright orange and black background makes this striking, and is a preview of the fruity beer within. The outlines around the text are so simple but clear, tying that Love & Hate to heaven & hell including a cherub you’d expect to see in a medieval painting.

Wiper and True Plum Pudding Porter

2: Wiper and True, Plum Pudding Porter

This is such a clean and beautiful can, as is the whole Wiper and True range – pure white cans, simple black text and gold images. Just looking at this can takes me back to Christmas, and the beer inside is like a Christmas pudding.

Six Degrees North Velo Pale Ale

1: 6 Degrees North, Velo Pale Ale

I have to say that this is my favourite of the bunch. The combination of the red and blue, the way the red triangle cuts into the name of the beer, and the pattern in white on the background all comes together to make for a really visually pleasing label.

It’s an interesting question of whether the art on the outside matters, or whether it’s distracting from the beer on the inside. I think that it goes without saying that the beer has to be the priority – a bad beer can’t be saved by a nice label. However I would say that when a nice beer comes with a visually stunning exterior, it makes for a better beer experience all round. Beer52 have covered the topic in a recent issue of Ferment magazine.

What do you think? What’s your favourite beer art? Let me know in the comments below, or let’s chat on Twitter, @craftynumber.

Read on for some more beer reviews here.

Stay in touch:

What consumers want from breweries and bars through COVID-19

Recently released research from GlobalWebIndex sheds light on what consumers are after from brands during this global crisis – here’s now that’s relevant in the world of beer.

Through the Coronavirus pandemic, research company GlobalWebIndex have been surveying consumers across the world to assess their reactions – fears, concerns, changes in behaviour and general attitudes. While there’s a few ways that consumers can help out their local breweries, bars and bottle shops, I’ve looked closely through their most recent release and it seems as though there’s some key learnings that the world of beer – breweries, bars, bottle shops and more – can take from their side:

  1. People are concerned about their personal finances – but not as much as you might think
  2. Online shopping is key, but combine it with other online activities for maximum impact
  3. Insert your brand into other ways people are spending their time
  4. Nail your content – it’s not just about the product

Read on for more details and ideas…

People are concerned about their personal finances – but not as much as you might think

A longer-term trend to think about. People are clearly concerned about the future of their money, but in fact show more concern for the national economy more broadly right now. It’s something that is hard to predict (and I’m certainly no expert), but I don’t think it would be any surprise that there are and will continue to be repercussions to the economy.

Online shopping is key, but combine it with other online activities for maximum impact

People are obviously shopping more online, with 37% of consumers in the UK saying that they are spending a little or a lot more time doing so – probably not a surprise. About 8% of those say they are buying alcohol online more now (more likely to be aged over 25, male and earning higher incomes) and although that might sound small, it could represent up to 2 million people.

There’s an audience there – make sure you are promoting any online offering you have. On top of this, overlapping with some of the audiences spending their time in different ways (see point 3) may help to broaden the beer audience outside of this existing group. People are interested in cooking, so post a recipe and a beer to pair with it, or use as an ingredient – link directly to the beer on your website. Put together a pack of beers for sale and host a virtual tasting session or film viewing party.

Insert your brand into other ways people are spending their time

Other ways people are spending their time include more reading, time on social media, talking with friends & family, cooking, doing other hobbies and watching TV or using streaming services – how can you be part of these? You want people to come across your brand in their daily lives, either to grow awareness or act as a reminder, so the broader you can be the better.

Recommend your favourite books, films or series – maybe help people get to know your team by showing off their different interests (especially helpful if you are very small). Invite submissions of favourite books or films, or ask more crafty-minded followers to submit can art ideas and alternatives. Give followers materials to empower them to share their love of beer with family and friends. Now’s a great time to build relationships with your brand’s fans.

Nail your content – it’s not just about the product

Consumers do want to know what your response to COVID-19 is (and understand why you would communicate this) but they are also looking for more light-hearted news and content. While everyone is spending more time on their phones, reading news and scrolling through social media, they need a distraction from all the terrible news around the world.

So what can you show them that’s a bit different or more entertaining? Behind the scenes video of the brewery/bar on a normal day, or a tour while it’s empty? ‘The making of’ a certain beer? Design process or early versions of artwork? Understandably you might not want to post memes, but can you run a quiz or ‘guess the beer’ competition or poll? Name your next beer? A spot the difference post?

These are just a few ideas, but hopefully are some useful thought starters as you plan out your company’s activities over the next few weeks and months. I’d love to hear about any more ideas, what you’re doing, and try to help others along the way. Please share this list to anyone who might find it interesting.

Stay tuned for more analysis of news and trends, as well as beers!

How to help beer survive COVID-19

This is a difficult time for everyone. While we are all staying at home, the hospitality sector has been hit hard and pubs, bars and breweries are feeling it. If you are reading I hope that this doesn’t include you, but if it does know that you have my support and if this is a useful list, please share.

So how can you help? Here’s three ways:

1 – Support pubs and breweries through CAMRA’s Pulling Together campaign

CAMRA, in partnership with SIBA and Crowdfunder, have launched a campaign called Pulling Together (#PullingTogether) to raise awareness of the initiatives pubs and breweries are carrying out during the coronavirus crisis. Learn more here and join the Facebook group here to stay up to date with what’s going on, and help where you can.

2 – Buy directly from the brewery or pub

While it may be an essential item, the supermarket is not the only place to buy your beer. Many breweries sell their beer online, and with smaller breweries suffering the most now’s the time to order directly. So visit your favourite brewery’s website, order in your staying at home supply, and support their business in the process.

Many pubs are also launching delivery, food and/or drink, giving you another option for getting beer straight to your door.

3 – Spread the word

Tell your family. Tell your friends. Tell your neighbours (who may or may not be your friends). Share your love of beer with everyone you can, and get them involved in supporting businesses which need the help. Send them this list, and encourage them to share too if it’s something they also care about.

I know that there are sadly many businesses feeling the impact of COVID-19, not to mention those personally affected, and my heart goes out to all those that includes. We can get through this period together, and I hope that on the other side of it we will have learned the importance of community and mutual support.

An important bonus

Donate beer to NHS staff to thank them for their incredible work with Brewgooder.

I drank a six pack of pale ales

As you might have seen me write before, I’ve set out on an adventure of the best kind (and one I can do indoors) – a beer odyssey. I’ve got six different pale ales together, and I’m trying them all in a row to try to understand how and why they’re different: in looks, smell, and taste.

For a while now, about two years which have gone very quickly, I’ve been making an effort to taste as many different beers as possible. Whenever I see something I haven’t tried in a pub, I get a pint. This has included rerouting trips around Ireland and New Zealand, the planning of trips to Belgium and Germany (now on COVID-hold) and, on a more local scale, walking across my home city of London to get to specific pubs. All topics for another day.

First, my pale ales. I’m trying to do a bit of reading around these beer styles and I have enjoyed it – it all feels very much like beer is significantly more important to society than I thought, and it’s a nice idea that something as simple as having a beer of an evening connects you to your ancestors from hundreds of years ago. But enough of my poetic licence.

The history bit

Back in 18th century England most beers were dark, but as malting methods improved those in charge of the process (maltsters) were more able to control the malt’s colour. As a result, brewers were able to brew lighter beers which also then had some different, less roasty, flavours. Generally, pale ales are on the mid- to darker end of what we might imagine a light beer to look like: think straw to copper, rather than an almost colourless lager. ‘Pale ale’ is also a catch-all term for a variety of beers, from IPAs on the stronger end to bitter on the weaker. In the craft beer boom in the US through the 1980s, pale ales had new life given to them – they were easier to make than lagers, and brewers were able to use the wide range of American hops to play with different flavours. Fast forward to the present day, and there’s more varieties of pale ales than I could hope to list here.

Onto the beers

I ordered six pale ales from Honest Brew, to be honest completely at random. Again, I was trying to get ones that I knew I hadn’t had before so that was a factor but otherwise I was choosing six that were available. From my experience, the selection on their website is always changing (a good thing) so if you were to go there now you may not find the ones I had. I would encourage you to pick a different six and do what I did!

First up, Nor’Hop by Moor (4.1% ABV). Pouring it out there wasn’t much of a head, but I wouldn’t let that put me off. Very slightly hazy, and the smell of it was a little bit of citrus fruit but nothing too strong. The taste was really a balance between some malt and light fruitiness, but for me there was still nothing particularly strong coming out. That said, this was generally a very pleasant beer, definitely a session beer and a nice one to start on.

Next was Inhaler by Magic Rock (4.5% ABV). A darker colour and much cloudier than the Nor’Hop, with a pure white head. There was a really strong hoppy smell coming off of this – fruity yes, but for me there was a lot of earthiness. Maybe something wrong with my nose according to the description Magic Rock give it (“super fruity, super ripe, super juicy”). Tasted exactly like it smelt and was nice overall, but not necessarily a standout for me. Either way it was really interesting how different this was from the first beer, all down to the hops giving their distinctive flavours.

Third in my list was Undercurrent from Siren (4.5% ABV). A similar colour to the Inhaler, maybe slightly less cloudy but not by much. I felt the smell was quite earthy but there was something there I couldn’t quite identify – it was annoying me. Reading spicy and floral on the bottle, perhaps it was a peppery smell I was getting? I felt the taste was sweeter than the Inhaler, with some similar flavours. The more I thought about it and the more I drank, the more I got that peppery flavour coming through. I can kind of understand the floral description of the hops, but it was definitely not a light flowery taste (if that makes sense) – more on the side of the earthiness, possibly because of the spice. This one also has oats in it and although the smoothness they bring wasn’t immediately obvious to me it was definitely there. All round a nice beer to drink and one that grew on me. Siren have been one of my favourite breweries and I’ve tried quite a few of their beers over time, so love to keep getting my hands on everything they come out with.

Fourth – Hickey the Rake by Wylam (4.2%). Back to a pale, straw coloured beer. Straight away there was a burst of fruity smell, with a little hint of sourness; being a ‘limonata pale’ I’m assuming that comes with the lemony side of this beer. It kind of smelt like a sour sweet, if you could possibly describe sourness as a smell. Tasting it, immediately the bitterness hit but quickly turned into a slightly sweet lemony smoothness. It’s great to have a beer made with two completely different hops to the previous one; this uses Chinook and Mosaic while the Siren beer had Cascade and Simcoe in there. The two beers are very different, I know some of that comes from the malts but I’ve loved trying the two alongside each other and really seeing the difference that the hops make. That’s why I wanted to do this, and it’s what I’ve got.

Next up was Cloudwater’s West Coast Pale (4.0% ABV). A light amber colour with a slight haziness when it was poured out. This one seemed to have a fresh, grassy hop smell that felt a bit like walking through a forest. The strong hop taste rolls into bitterness and it really lasted, like a fruit pith taste. That was probably the biggest difference between this and the other pales I’d had, which didn’t have such a lasting bitterness.

Last but not least, Headband by Verdant (5.5% ABV). Immediately an explosion of fruity smells pouring out of the can, a mixture of mango and pineapples straight to the face. An interesting one to taste: you get the fruitiness straight away, then it turns into something weirdly smooth and much less sweet. I’m seeing stinky cheese written on the can, I think that must be what they’re referring to. Not sure how pleasant that is really. I guess you get more used to it as you have more, but once I had that idea in my head I just couldn’t get past it. Probably not one for me, but it’s amazing to see just how different this was to the first few pale ales I had. Just goes to show how much of a difference there can be between beers of the same style.

All in all, I was very pleased that I did this. Not only was it the perfect way to spend an afternoon, it also opened my eyes to some of the amazing differences you can get between beers when just a few things are changed – whether that’s adding a small amount of oatmeal to the mash, or throwing in a ton of hops to bring down a fruity rain. I would wholeheartedly encourage this experience to any of you interested in beers, especially if it’s a relatively new thing for you. All you need is a glass (if you’re as civilised as I clearly am) and a thirst.

One small step for beer, a massive leap for my beer knowledge. The first of many of these trial sessions, which I will write down my thoughts on.

Right, what’s in the fridge…

Coronavirus, Staying Indoors and Six Packs

I haven’t posted here for a while. It’s been a busy few months, but now being stuck inside because of coronavirus (like most of the world) I’ve had a bit more time to settle in, drink some beers and try to distract myself from everything going on out there.

Something I’ve wanted to do for a long while is to consciously learn more about the different styles of beer – what are they are, how they’re made and why they’re different from each other. Doing a little bit of brewing myself has helped but let’s face it, tasting is much more fun.

So recently I decided to try putting together six beers of the same type to taste alongside each other and get to grips with their flavours and profiles. I’ve already started doing this with some pale ales, IPAs and lagers which I’ll be covering over the next few days, and I’ve got some porters & stouts, session IPAs and no/low alcohol beers on their way to me right now to repeat the process.

For each I’m going to do a little bit of reading up on the background of the style because hopefully that will help me understand it a bit more, and honestly because I love a bit of history. So stay tuned, stay indoors and wash your hands!