Sunday, 23 December 2012


That was the year that was, eh?

I decided not to do a Golden Pints this year. I haven't blogged much at all this year, not for lack of inspiration, but because I didn't feel I could do myself justice.

The European Beer Bloggers Conference, held in Leeds in May, was a bit of an eye-opener for me. Being in the company of writers I've held in very high esteem was great, but when it came down to brass tacks, I realised I don't have the commitment to writing that they do. I'd love to be able to write 80,000 words a year and make cogent and reasonable arguments to join the debate, but I just don't feel like I have the skill or the time.

So, a brief post on what I've enjoyed this year and so forth...

Professionally speaking, brewing with John Keeling was fantastic. He has a friendly and open nature, and we found him keen to share his not inconsiderable brewing knowledge with us. Not only was the day informative, it was fun too. Signing the wall at The Rake was amazing too.

The Rake - now cosiderably less valuable than it was on 5/8/12

Event wise, Hardknott have been to Port Street a couple of times this year and I was lucky to go along on both occasions. I also went down for the Roosters night. All three were marvellous occasions. PSBH is the without doubt my favourite place to drink here in the UK, my only regret is that I can't get down there more often.

 Port Street - nice bit of chalkmanship

I've already mentioned EBBC, add to the list a jaunt to Leeds for the International Beer Festival in September, with the notorious Tyler Kiley as my guide, discovering Friends of Ham and Whitelocks as well as the excellent Festival itself. I'm definitely looking forward to Leeds in 2013.

 Tyler and Leigh - besht maytsh

The last event of the year for Hardknott was the Taste Cumbria Christmas Fayre at Muncaster Castle. We ran a Beer Hall in the Old Laundry function room, which was great. We served six beers, all on keg, blew a few minds, and enjoyed some of the best weather of the winter.

 Muncaster Castle and the lower Esk Valley - beautiful in the winter sun

Beers of the year... the big one... In terms of what I've made myself, the new Hardknott Azimuth has become a personal favourite. I was also very proud of my homebrewed IPA, "Fitzroy", which people have been very kind about. Going beyond the narcissism... Buxton Axe Edge, Hawkshead NZPA, Stringers Mutiny and Furness Abbey, Dogfish Head 75 minute IPA (thanks to the good folks at North Bar for sharing with us at the time!), Coniston No.9, Roosters Baby Faced Assassin, Duchesse de Bourgogne and Lovibonds Dirty 69. All beers that have, at various times, floated my boat. All exceptionally well brewed, all packed with flavour. Special mention should also go to Dave Bishop, Broadford Brewer, who very kindly gave me a bottle of his DamnNation Belgian golden strong ale. This was every bit the equal to Duvel and Delirium Tremens, it was difficult to believe I was drinking a homebrewed beer at times. The end of the year has brought the sad news that Dave has been made redundant from his day job. He's an extremely talented brewer and would be an asset to any brewery who are looking to hire someone.

One thing I'd like to see less of in 2013 is the emergence of "craft" microbreweries that are owned and operated by larger, regional brewers*. The dull, piss-boring dishwater you peddle at £43 a firkin is the reason there is a craft movement in the UK now. You are akin to a horse who wants to hitch a lift in the carriage you're meant to be pulling. Cos y'know, that happens all the time.

Turned into a bit of a rant, hasn't it. What doesn't, I guess!

The warmest of seasons greetings to all and I wish you the very best for 2013.

*A little disclaimer, not all regional brewers are turning out the kind of beers I described above, Fullers and Adnams are producing some great beers and some of Jennings offerings are quite palatable. But there some terrible beers we have to put up with here in the Lakes, simply because they are too cheap for the landlord to ignore. Only my opinion, but there you have it.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Desk Job

I'm now the proud owner of my very own desk, in an office, at my place of work. As if the occasion wasn't momentous enough, HardknottDave has very generously now also furnished it with a working computer too.

I thought I'd mark this turning point in my career by writing a blog.

Anyway, I haven't a right lot to say just now, as I'm supposed to be writing a HACCP plan.

So that's it really. Toodle pip.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Live Blogging #EBBC

I live-blogged the speed tasting event on Twitter, so below is a collation of all those tweets in one place.

"Beer 1. #EBBC12 Otley Oxymoron. Light and slightly citrus aromas, the Sorachi hops jump out at me, pleasant malt backbone."

"Oxymoron: bitterness is very pleasant, lingering and nice back-of-the-tongue bite. #EBBC12"

"Beer 2: Brains Dark. Hints of chocolate and coffee on the nose. Slightly caramel-tinged. Understated hops, in style for a mild."

"Beautiful tobacco smoke hint and tasty liquorice. Liking this. #EBBC12"

"Beer 3: Marble/Emelisse Collab. Aroma is minimal but fruity & pleasant. Medium bitterness and a really nice bergamot-tannic flavour. #EBBC12"

"Made with tea, this fact is very evident! Really nice, full flavoured. #EBBC12"

"Beer 4, Roosters Baby Faced Assassin............. #saynomore beautifully soft, fragrant, served from cask this is an absolute winner."

"Beer 5: Great Heck Stormin' Norman, nice aromas, good fruit and tasty lingering yeast notes. Really drinkable for 6.5%..."

"Beer 6. Slater's Top Totty. Slight lemony touch, but an overall malt-led affair. Not as bitter as I'd like. Well brewed but not for me."

"Beer 7: Camden Hells USA... Unfiltered, lovely light flavour, malt shines through with the gentle balance of US hops. Superb. #EBBC12"

"Beer 8: Adnams Ghost Ship. Fruity Caramel nose. Nice malt character, really full & lingering, balanced beautifully by new world hops #EBBC12"

"Beer 9: Innis & Gunn, Scottish pale oak aged. Pine and toffee nose, fully hoppy flavour, but the oak aged, vanilla and toffee notes dominate"

"That's not my bag (in a pale beer) I'm afraid. Sorry I&G."

"Beer 10: Leeds Hellfire. Pleasant nose, nice body but it feels a bit beaten up. Bitterness doesn't jump out like I'd hope. #EBBC12"

"I get the feeling this would be a great beer if BC'd."

"I admire Leeds Brewery guy's marketing outlook, he's got it right. But pasteurising hasn't treated this beer well, IMHO. #EBBC12"

The event was great and it was superb fun to meet the guys from each brewery, hear their stories and learn a little bit more about what motivated them.

Beer Glasses - why it matters.

For me, one of the most interesting sessions at EBBC so far has been the beer tasting with glass comparison, hosted by Spiegelau. Our hosts clearly know their stuff when it comes to glassmaking, but they've only been at it for 500 years or so, deep in the heart of Bavaria.

My time working behind bars made me well aware of the fact that a certain type of beer needs a certain type of glass. This was especially true of my time at The Masons Arms, where our range of 60 different beers tested the knowledge of our bar team daily.

However, as much as I have always stressed to people how much the shape of the glass matters, I was completely bowled over by Spiegelau's presentation. Taking as an example Camden Brewery's excellent Wheat beer, a sample was poured into each of Spielgelau's tall wheat beer glass, their tall but slender pilsner glass and finally the joker glass, a tulip pint such as those found in nearly any pub in the UK.

The wheat beer glass really accentuated the nose of the beer, the subtle notes that define a good Hefeweiss drifted gently from the glass. A good, soft head was well retained in this glass.

The pilsner glass, while not dissimilar in shape to the wheat beer glass, is a more narrow, slender affair. The aroma was present, but much more concentrated. It was a sudden burst of atonal noise, rather than all the notes playing out their gentle melody in turn. Again, this glass gave good head, but the mouthfeel was more aggressive, the carbonation was fuller and tighter.

The joker glass, with it's rolled lip, thicker walls and slight discolouration, gave very little - if any - aroma. The head disappeared almost immediately and the taste was metallic and ever so slightly sulphurous. I wondered if the glass I had was in need of renovating, the difference was that marked.

It's worth noting that the joker glass would retail ordinarily for between £1-2, where the Spiegelau glasses would retail for at the very least £7 each (the glass set we were very kindly given would normally retail for £30). The ordinary tulips, while thickness is part of the problem in tasting beers, is obviously more hard-wearing. Spiegelau's technique of blowing the glass, rather than moulding, results in a thinner, clearer glass, which is cut with a laser for a finer finish. The official line is that these glasses are built to withstand 1500 dishwasher cycles - 4 years if used everyday - however I would be surprised if they weren't broken before then, even by the most careful of beer geeks.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Free Beer

The subject came up briefly during the second session of EBBC, in which Adrian Tierney-Jones and Simon Jenkins were offering generous advice on how to improve beer writing.

It's a hot topic at the moment and has led to Dave running the little "competition" in which a number of lucky bloggers who responded to our Rhetoric with reasonable integrity are taking home a bottle.

I was chatting with Neil Walker of Eating isn't Cheating yesterday in North Bar who provided the best example of how to go about requesting beer from a brewery that I've encountered so far.

"If I know I can't or won't be able to get hold of the beer in question locally, I simply send a polite email asking that should the brewery happen to be sending out beers for review, please would they consider sending me one."

As Adrian said in his talk, it's up to the blogger as to how they conduct themselves and indeed up to the brewer to decide how they'd like to respond.

Our point of view has been made clear by Dave, who believes that - as it stands - bloggers make up a large part of our target audience, it doesn't make any sense in business terms to give your product away that easily.

I'd certainly be more open to requests, were it to come down to my decision, if the requests were as polite as those outlined here.

EBBC - Day 1.

Coming back to Yorkshire is always a fun experience for me. I was born and brought up in Bradford, moving up to the Lakes with my family when I was seventeen. So arriving into Leeds for an almighty pub crawl was always going to be an exciting time for me, regardless.

I wasn't to be disappointed.

Leigh put together an excellent night, taking in the true high spots of the Leeds pub scene. Modern, contemporary places such as Mr Foley's, North Bar and The Midnight Bell were counterbalanced with the wonderful, traditional layout of The Grove and - to a lesser extent - The Cross Keys.

I managed to try a reasonable selection of both cask and keg beers ranging from local brews from Leeds and Saltaire breweries, to such exotic treats as Stone Old Guardian and Tipopils. The quality of the beers, in all pubs, was second to none. There was only one questionable pint which was happily substituted with good grace.

Of course, the main idea behind this evening was a miniature twissup, bringing people together who may have only ever spoken via twitter. To this end, I had some great conversations with more bloggers and fellow beer crusaders than I can mention in such a brief post. Needless to say, Leigh himself, who was very kind about a post I did over on my homebrew blog (, did an incredible job of putting the whole thing together. Cheers Leigh!

I'm now looking forward to getting started with the conference proper, first on the agenda being the distribution of the Rhetoric and FitzRoy. Here's to a great weekend ahead.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Spring at Hardknott

It's been ages since I blogged and look, its all changed. Blogger is trying to be Facebook it seems.

I thought I'd just jot a quick note down with some of the things we've been up to over the last couple of months. Some exciting times have been enjoyed and thanks to a new account with Ales and Co in Italy, we're busier than ever. The popularity of our mid-range beers, Code Black and Infra Red, has soared, in cask, keg and bottle too. To the point where we're brewing them more or less non-stop now, a tricky task with only 3 fermenting vessels....

We held a highly succesful Meet the Brewer evening at Cask Pub & Kitchen in Pimlico back in early March, you can see the video of Dave's shenanigans here. I was left at home to babysit the beer on that occasion, it has to be done!

Towards the end of March, we made a brand new prototype beer, completely off the wall. I can't say much more than that just now, needless to say keep your eyes on our twitter accounts, you'll know when it happens...

The next excitement was brewing with John Keeling, in early April. John and his wife, Simone, came up to visit the Lakes and John was keen to come and see our setup and make something new with us, which was incredibly cool. He is a very genial chap, keen to share his knowledge with us and develop a really special beer for the occasion.

John and Jeff Pickthall admire Dave's skills with the mash paddle.

The beer we brewed together has matured very well and was tasting great this week when we bottled the first half of the batch. Again, keep your eyes peeled for news on our twitter feeds.

Lately, just last weekend in fact, I had the pleasure of The Kirkstile Inn's Beer Festival. The Kirkstile is by far my favourite pub in the Lakes, amid stiff competition from pubs such as The Swan Inn, The Derby Arms and The Queens at Biggar. Set against the beautiful backdrop of Loweswater in the northern Lakes, the building is a 16th century stable housing to serve the neighbouring church (kirk-stile or church-stalls). It has a cosy bar with gently glowing fire, low beams and historic photos and artefacts adorning the walls. I was apprehensive about coming as it involved a steady, 14-mile cycle from Whitehaven up into the Lakes, however I was pleasantly surprised at how easy, dare I say it, even enjoyable, I found the ride.
Roger Humphreys, owner of both the Kirkstile and Cumbria Legendary Ales invited me up to the pub and kindly offered me a bed for the night. Extreme generosity from one of the gentlemen of this business. Roger knows good beer and had one hell of a selection lined up, in addition to his own superb range of beers, he had procured casks from Thornbridge, Red Willow, Highland, Magic Rock, Marble and Hawkshead. He had also put on CLA's own superb doppelbock Croglin Vampire, served from cask. Having already polished off 8 pints of beers ranging from 3.9% to 6.0%, for some reason I thought the 8% Vampire would be a good way to finish off the night... a whole pint of it to be precise. I have no memory of leaving the bar and going back to my room...
 Roger gets stuck in to keep the customer satisfied.

Melbreak catches the last of the sun, as seen from the beer garden.

What I do remember though, a great chat with Roger and his head brewer at CLA, Hayley. A great example of friendly beer folk within Cumbria and the industry at large. I also remebered the 14 mile cycle back to Whitehaven to catch the train home the next morning. That was "fun".

No sooner had that hangover subsided then did I find myself on a train bound for Manchester on Monday afternoon. Another Meet the Brewer event loomed, this time at one of my favourite drinking establuishments I've yet had the pleasure of, Port Street Beer House. A great bar, chock-full of great beers. In addition to our contributions of Cool Fusion, Continuum, Code Black and Infra Red (all on cask) and Colonial Mayhem (on keg), I got to try some amazing beers from Summer Wine, Nogne O, and some more Magic Rock. 
The night descended into general mayhem when Dave produced a 3-litre bottle of Infra Red's predecessor from the Woolpack days, Zippy Red Ale. This behemoth had been aging since 2009 and had matured beautifully, the hops had mellowed and rounded into a subtle fruity, slightly sweet, slightly sharp combination. It was amazing.

But (in my opinion) it was topped, incredibly. Some young chaps we were speaking to by the names of Jack, Clifford and Liam (sorry, didn't catch any last names) very generously shared a bottle of Goose Island Lolita with Dave and I. At £22.00, this was a serious chunk of cash and we are ever so grateful to them for sharing. Aged in wine barrels with raspberries, this is an absolute beast of a sour beer. Dry as a bone with the gentle tartness of the raspberry to give it an irresistable edge.
It was really cool to meet Gregg Irwin (@dredpenguin) this week, we gave him a quick brewery tour, and of course got him up the ladder, helping out. He very kindly left us some beer to try too, something we shall be investigating soon, I'm sure.

So now, apart from my bad back, the reason I am writing this now, you're up to date. I'm now very much looking forward to the summer, primarily the Beer Blogger's Conference in Leeds and finally getting back down to London for GBBF (at least). Not to mention a great time ahead brewing more great beer and breaking new ground for Hardknott.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Beer Festivals

This post started out as a write-up of my experiences at Dickie Doodles beer festival in Kendal last weekend, but the more I've thought about it (especially given the events of the last week or so), the more its turned into a more general musing on beer festivals as an entity.

Firstly, Dickie Doodles. Tucked into one of Kendal's many 'yards' (alleys), Dickie Doodles is a small bar, with a big reputation for its live music nights. Walking in, I was greeted to the sounds of Sergeant Pepper, remade lovingly, track-for-track, in a reggae style. Bare-stone walls, adorned with local artwork depicting classic motorcycles (including a magnificent rendering of an Indian Scout), provide an excellent acoustic and make it plain why this is such a magnet for the local music crowd.

The bar was sporting 6 handpull beer engines and a further two beers were available via gravity on the back of the bar. I was immediately heartened to see our own Katalyst on the bar, its probably my favourite cask beer of ours.

The format was the same as many CAMRA-run festivals, you buy a card for a fiver with 5x50p, 10x20p and 5x 10p squares to be crossed off as they are spent, with the beers being sold at either 80p, 90p or £1 per third. This caused me a problem right away as I was encouraged to drink in thirds. I haven't a problem with that as a rule, especially when there is a wide selection of beers, or everything available is of a high ABV, however the strongest on offer was Coniston Blacksmith's, at 5%. As it was, I had 6 thirds over the course of an hour or so, where I would normally have had 3-4 pints. Bad news in terms of stock management.

I don't want to decry the chaps at DD's though, this was their first festival and they had a nice list put together. On the bar when I was in were; Stringer's Yellow Lorry (a classy pale beer, grassy bitterness with nice fruity notes too), the afore-mentioned Blacksmith's (malty sweetness and nutty with a full-bodied mouthfeel), Pennine Amber and Real Blonde (lager-y sweetness, an unquarrelsome pale), Dent Aviator, Cross Bay Winter Moon Porter (I did try this, but I wouldn't want to publish my thoughts on it), Hawkshead's classic Brodie's Prime (stunning porter with a nice gentle, rolling bitterness) and Katalyst (with all its bits in the right places, to my satisfaction). All the beers were in great condition, even those served on gravity from the bar top, complete with their frozen towels to chill them! The blackboard proclaimed such delights as Saltaire's Elderflower Blonde and Hawkshead's super-special NZPA as 'Coming Soon'.

I did call back in later, as the band were warming up, and was served a couple of pints, rather than going back on to thirds. Unfortunately, the weather had closed in all day, leaving the bar rather empty and forlorn at the time they should have been busiest.

All in all, a good first fest I'd say, but there was a definite feel of a CAMRA run festival about it, which to me spoiled the atmosphere a bit. I expect next time around, the management team will be wanting to keep the event more in line with its regular trading pattern, perhaps introduce some more exotic beers (maybe including bottles) and give people the option of a pint or even a half on the more sessionable beers right from the outset.

Fans and followers of the Hardknott blogs/twitter feeds may be aware of the controversy we courted following the SIBA National Keg Competition, held at The Barrels in Hereford last week. I don't need to remind you of all the grisly details, needless to say we were all pretty incredulous at what we had been told.

What really got me thinking though, as someone who has both organised and patronised a fair few beer festivals, is what we were told by the manager of The Barrels after the event. Their decision to not serve Queboid, at 8%, and Mutiny, at 9.3%, was based upon the grounds of the 'responsible retailing of alcohol' and that they would not ordinarily serve beers of over 4.5%. This last fact is the decision of the licensee and as such is fair enough, I'm certainly not going to tell him how to run his business, but this claim of the 'responsible retailing of alcohol' sticks in my throat somewhat.

When I was running the bar at the Masons Arms, Strawberry Bank, I would regularly have beers such as Coniston Infinity IPA (6%), Hawkshead NZPA (6%) and Citrillo (5%) (or Cumbrian Five Hop as it is now) and Hardknott Infra Red (6.2%) on the bar on cask, we periodically sold Leffe Blond (6.6%) and Duvel Green (6.8%) via keg and had many bottles at way over 10%, including Tokyo* and Tactical Nuclear Penguin. The Masons, much like the Barrels we are led to believe, is a place that must be driven to for 95% of its clientele. It isn't on a bus route, in fact the nearest bus stop with a regular service is over 4 miles away. I never once stopped to think that I wasn't retailing alcohol responsibly. I wonder if Glyn, Tom, Dean, or Will have ever had that doubt? My guess is their response would be the same as mine, 'Of course not, particularly strong beers come in shorter measures.'

The fact is, if someone has had enough, they don't get any more. It's the basic principle of innkeeping that goes back centuries, if not millenia. If I was a regular, I'd be unhappy that my beer selection was being censored on the basis that the landlord didn't want me getting a bit pissed of a Saturday night. It makes even less sense to me that he wouldn't even serve halves of an 8% beer, when he's quite happy to dish out pints of 4.5% beer. Simple maths tells you there's something wrong there.

I had my first experience of GBBF last year, I have to say I was unaccustomed to drinking anything less than pints at that stage, especially as a first drink. I arrived a tad late and whilst looking around to find Ann and Dave, I decided a beer would make the search easier. Arriving at the BSF American bar, virgin pint glass clasped in hand, I asked for a Lagunitas IPA, at around 5.5% as I recall.

"A half or a third, sir?"

"Errrr, pint???"

"Oh, er, yes, of course, er, right away."

It seems my request was somewhat foreign to the bar tender. Perhaps my ideas of strength are askew? I'd regard anything up to 6% as 'sessionable', depending on style somewhat. But that's just me and it's all subjective, something we'd all do well to remember once in a while.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Burns Night at The Derby Arms

I've never even been to a Burns Night dinner, let alone hosted one.....

But there I was, stepping into the breach. The Hardknott van had failed its MOT on Monday, and then been troublesome enough as to reject the donor parts transplanted into it on Tuesday. Which put vital deliveries to Newcastle back 2 days already. Therefore, when the van passed its MOT on Wednesday afternoon, Dave and Ann had to shoot straight over to the north-east, pretty much right away.

The upshot of all that was the Burns Night dinner, which was to be hosted jointly between myself and Dave, was now going to be hosted by, err, me. Luckily, Jeff stepped in at the last minute to help with proceedings, so some moral support was the very least that was on hand, not to mention the wealth of experience he commands.

The night itself had actually been planned as a little promotion for our role as Brewdog wholesalers, so using the Scottish connection it seemed natural to make it a Burns Night event. The four-course meal consisted of Smoked Salmon with a sweet lime dressing, paired with Punk IPA, Haggis with neeps and tatties (naturally), paired with both Alice Porter and 5AM Saint, Cranachan, paired with both Bitch Please and Hardcore IPA and finally a cheese platter served with a wee dram of Tokyo*.

Generally, the matches worked well. We had tried to pair each course in such a way that one beer would contrast the flavour of the food, where the alternative would compliment. Our downfall was possibly the dessert course. The rich creaminess of the Cranachan was undermined by the Bitch Please and somewhat overwhelmed by the Hardcore. It was the only downside to an otherwise successful beer matching event. The star of the show, as it quite often is, was Tokyo*. This is an immense beer on its own, but paired with cheese it takes on a whole new dimension.

The Derby Arms, in Witherslack near Kendal, is a stunning pub, located just off the A590, the main road through the south of the county. It is now being run by one of my former colleagues from my days at the Masons Arms, Strawberry Bank, Adam Thorpe. Adam shares my passion for decent beer, but is more sensitive to the needs of higher management shall we say. He's clearly making an impression in his new job too. The quality of the food at the Derby has always been high, but the meal prepared for us was stunning, full rich flavours and rustic, yet comely presentation. All this says nothing of the rooms, the example I was treated to, Room 4, was very grand, with the biggest bed I've ever seen, let alone slept in.

The Derby will hopefully be the venue for a proper Hardknott night in April and we are also hoping to play a part in their inaugural beer festival in June. Personally, I'm excited to keep my ties with my old partner in crime as strong as possible and to make The Derby Arms a destination for fans of top quality beer, served in relaxed and friendly surroundings, whether Cumbrian themselves, or a visitor to our realm.

Sunday, 22 January 2012


One week later, I've learned so much.

No doubt my tweets from the Brewlab course may have been picked up by one or two of you. They probably weren't entirely representative of my overall experience. There was the minor inconvenience of Kevin, interrupting procedings and generally not getting stuff the rest of us were completely familiar with. On the whole, however, the course was very informative, I learned a great deal, particularly in the areas of liquor treatment and yeast culturing.

Over and above all that though, it gave me inspiration. As most folks will know, I've done a bit of homebrewing (I still hate the term, but for convenience, it'll do) before, in fact I blogged about it last time I did a little brew. People who have tried my beers have been relatively impressed with them, in fact I'm confident in saying they were pretty good, considering what I knew then compared to what I know now.

So I'm also confident in saying I could produce some kick-ass beers at home on my small kit with the commercial knowledge I've picked up in the last week or so, combined with the practical experience gained at work. I'm actually quite excited about it, to the point where I have a theme and basic branding worked out. Too far, too fast, I know, but when the mood takes me I tend to crack on with these things.

Next job is to clear out our old shed and fit it out with power and water so I can actually brew in there. So please excuse me, I must be on my way...

Sunday, 15 January 2012


It's been a pretty mental couple of weeks over at Hardknott towers. The new year saw us with orders for pallets which we are still attempting to catch up with. Dave and Ann have been shooting off around the country sealing deals and bringing back exotic items from the far north.

All of this has culminated in me checking on my blog, rather belatedly, and finding that I've gone past 1000 page views in the last few days. (I've also found a draft I started on New Year's Eve and had forgotten all about, but we shall gloss over that...)

Anyway, thanks to all who've popped by. My aims for blogging in 2012 are threefold:

a) I'd like to do more of it;
b) I'd like to get better at it;
c) I'd like to learn how to more carefully tread that line between interesting and controversial.

I hope that meets with everyone's approval!

In the meantime, I'm driving across to Sunderland today in preparation for taking the Brewlab Brewing Skills Development course ovedr the next 4 days or so. This will, all being well, improve our consistency of putting great beer out there (which I'm told is already pretty good anyway), as well as help me sharpen up my practices and make us a bit more efficient.

So here's to a year of great beer, great company and great fun.