Month: August 2016

Brum Beer Profiles – Clink

‘All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them’

Walt Disney

 ‘Have you seen that Tweet? Who are Clink?’

A movement or scene is often started by dreamers, people with an idea and a passion, and the courage to try to make them come true.  Others may follow suit, each with their own dreams, and the courage to pursue them.

Now in Birmingham, like most cities we suppose, there is a low-level swirl of rumours around the beer scene over who is doing what; most famous or maybe infamous, being that of Birmingham Tap, (similar to Euston Tap) is going to open soon…for the last 2-3 years. So in mid-July a tweet declared that ‘Clink’, a new bottle shop and tap-room, would be opening at The Custard Factory in Digbeth.  We had people getting in touch with us asking if we knew who was behind it, the short answer being, not a clue. Out of nowhere a new venue was opening a few minutes’ walk from the Bullring.  To quote Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid “Who are those guys?”  So one wet Monday evening we went along to find out…

P1000283

Our first question was who are these courageous souls, who are brave enough to pursue their dreams? The guys in question are Richard Sadler (no relation to the Black Country brewers of the same name), James Beckett, and David Purcell; 3 colleagues who work together at Fazeley Studios and spent time together drinking in the bars of Birmingham.

We met with Richard and James to learn more.

Dave – So how did you get into beer?

Richard: I’ve been interested in beer since I was old enough to drink.  About three years ago I got turned on to craft beer thanks to Brewdog and cold fresh Punk IPA.  I had always liked beer but when I tried that, it was on another level, and I started thinking, where can I get more? As I got more and more in to it I become more passionate.

James: I became a more selective drinker, after growing up drinking lager,  thanks to a family friend that started Northern Monk in Leeds. They have also proved helpful in providing advice once we’d decided to open our bar.

David: I grew up in Hereford and was a real ale drinker from the start, especially Wye Valley as they were local.  I even had a few of the seasonal specials with a nettle beer being one that still lives large in the memory.  My epiphany beer was Steph Weiss by And Union in Munich which in a roundabout way led me to discover Cotteridge Wines and their huge selection of beers…

Dream Becomes Reality

We asked the guys how Clink went from dream to reality, and the answer was beautiful in is simplicity;

While working together we were all just batting the idea around jokingly really, and it just spiralled out of control.  And we went into it head first.  It all happened really quickly.

They had discussed their passion for beer, including their admiration for places like Cotteridge Wines, and dreamt of opening their own space, when one of them said, ‘Lets do it’.

P1000282

They have received advice and help from various parts of the industry:

Other bottle shops, breweries, people who fit bars, nearly everyone was really welcoming.

With the likes of Cotteridge Wines offering encouragement:

Yeah they’re my beer heroes.  I was really nervous at first because I thought they might be annoyed about us doing it.  Jaz messaged us on Twitter and said ‘I’m going to come down’ adding to my nerves but when he come down he was so nice and friendly.  We are lucky that we have been able to build a good relationship with them.

The guys set about making enquirers at a number of different venues, but working in Digbeth the Custard Factory seemed like an obvious choice, and so close to where they all still work.

The Custard Factory have been supportive, with their Twitter account being most people’s first inkling that Clink was happening.

The reality into action

Clink is a bottle shop, boasting a fantastic selection of bottles, from some of the best breweries from the UK, Europe and the USA, along with eight taps with the ability to buy, and fill growlers.

We just wanted great beer, beer we would like.  We get the beers direct from breweries where we can.

The guys have become the first Birmingham Venue to take on Untappd Verified Venue Status

We are just trying it out.  We all use Untappd ourselves and liked the way you could put your  whole beer menu online, we have had quite a few people pop by because they have seen we have put a beer on.  We wondered  if it would be worth it and it seems to have been so far.

Who is their customer base in Digbeth?  When we meet them it was perhaps a little too early to get a clear sense of their average…well anything really.

We have literally no demographic, all ages have been popping in so far. We have had some customers from surrounding businesses, including one place that has a beer fridge in their office, and another that buys beer for their employees on a Friday. We think it is great that such a diverse group of people are into good beer.

When we spoke to the guys they had only been open for a week or 2, and they were still figuring out a lot of stuff, but their passion and commitment will see them through. They are still trying to settle on set opening times, and learning when their busy times may be, but will always answer if you tweet them for information. They have been known to be flexible, with a focus on just enjoying engaging with customers, and staying open a little longer when busy.

P1000281

More Dreaming

Future plans for Clink include possible Meet the Brewer events and possible tap take overs, but the main focus is making a success of the shop, and enjoying making their dream a reality.

Perhaps in the future we could look at opening something else, perhaps open something on the Pershore Road, maybe a tap-room or something, with all the awesome places already there, Wildcat Tap, Stirchley WInes & Spirits, Cotteridge Wines, The British Oak. It could become a bit of a beer mile.

Whatever the future plans we are chuffed to see these guys having the courage to pursue their dreams and hope others will look at the actions they have taken and also choose to follow their own dreams.

We are excited to see the progression of this great little venue, and look forward to popping back to chat to the lads when they are fully settled in.

Are you considering starting to brew?  Want to open a bottle shop? Or Bar?  Do you want to add to the scene/movement here in Birmingham and the surrounding areas?

Well listen to Uncle Walt’s words and make it happen.

Cotteridge Wines 21st…

Happy Birthday to me…and Cotteridge Wines.  Yes, July 8th 2016 the sun shone on the righteous as they sat in the beer garden to partake in a mighty selection of beers, many brewed specially for this momentous event.  Jaz and Kal had decided to ease themselves into this 2 day beer extravaganza by keeping the numbers small for the first session between 12 and 4 on Friday in case there were any problems with the beers, and of course the first one I chose was fobbing, but Kal was patient and so I got to start with a 40Ft Brewing Melon P1000245Drop which was light and refreshing and a pretty perfect start.  I spent most of the afternoon with Ross Lang, assistant manager at the Craven Arms,
and it was a very pleasant relaxing few hours.  I didn’t feel any compunction to try all 18 beers on offer although there were a few I had my eye on, such as beer #2, Tropical Cannonball by Magic Rock, and as I said on Untappd “does what it says on the tin, Cannonball with extra fruity punch” and it seemed to be a big hit with most of the drinkers there.  Next up was Lord Nelson – Sauvignon Blanc Oaked Edition from Elusive Brewing which I was really looking forward to because I had strong memories of having the original at the 2014 Birmingham Beer Bash, great use of the Nelson Sauvin hop. And as luck would have it Andy Parker of Elusive was there so I had a brief chat with him about the new brewery and the beer he had brought to the festival. It had taken a lot longer than he expected for him to find premises, and he reckons he lost almost a year before finding his site in Finchhampstead in Berkshire, but 10 brews in he said although it is a lot of hard work he is loving it.  I was particularly impressed that for his first brew in the new premises he went for a smoked ruby mild. Lord Nelson was a homebrew recipe that ended up being a fully fledged collaboration with Weird Beard once Greg from the brewery had tasted it.  It is now in it’s 3rd iteration and has got a little stronger and for this special version he soaked some oak chips in a bottle of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc for a week, and then put the chips into a hop sack and popped it in the corny keg…and yes it worked really well, had a subtle wine taste, and tart fruit.  Look forward to try more Elusive beers over the next few months.

P1000246Next it was time for a Summer Fruits Oatmeal Pale (Cotteridge 21st Birthday) from Twisted Barrel, and talking with Andy was Richie from the brewery so I asked how this came about. The original beer is a tap house exclusive but for this special version they just siphoned some off, aged it on a selection of summer fruit, and then put it back in a keg to give a pleasantly dry but fruity beer. I am a fan of what Rich and Carl are doing and this was another great addition to their roster. The beers continued flowing including the Wiper and True Saison Mosaic which was quite hoppy with a spicy undertone, the Weird Beard blend and the Beavertown Yam Yam, a bretted ale which I didn’t think was too bretty if that makes sense. In between these I had a brief chat with Sam and the boys from Siren who were obviously having a great time and have a long history with, Cotteridge…I think they may’ve been exaggerating when they said Kal was waiting on the brewery doorstep for them when they first opened, but as mentioned in a previous blog they continue to have a good relationship with former head brewer Ryan Witter as well as the new team. For the birthday they brewed a DIPA with pineapple, lime, mint and chillies which unfortunately I didn’t get to sample and the people that did gave it a few mixed reviews on Untappd, but it sounds like it was a wild concoction. This also applies to the name Superkalandjazalisticexpialidocious done especially as a challenge to see if they could fit it all on the beer board. I finished the session with Cloudwaters Deep Breath which you could almost call a super charged black and tan, mixing  a Red Wine barrel aged stout with V3 DIPA. So all in all an excellent way to spend the birthday.

And then the next day I did it all over again with Deb, and it had the added bonus of the Original Patty Men being there serving their rather excellent burgers. So more beer was consumed and much verbiage was waffled away. The beers included 21st Century Breakfast from Steel City, a grapefruit and orange pale ale which was stunning in it’s simplicity, Mango Lassi by Northern Alchemy, Brodies Chunky Monkey stout which I’d had before but it is delightful with it’s combination of chocolate and banana, and Figgy Bastard, another concoction from Gaz at Mad Hatter in Liverpool. This latter seemed to be one of the standouts for everyone at the evening session and was going down far too easily for a 13% beer, great combination of flavours. Deb really enjoyed the social aspect of the evening which was very laid back and chatted with a few new friends that have been made bonding over beer including Steve Nicholls and Louise and Karl McCormack, plus she was pleasantly surprised when a complete stranger shared a bottle of beer with her…it was that kind of friendly night. And the beer in question was Siren Barrel Aged Life is a Peach, so result since she did share it with me.

A few days later I popped back and had a brief chat, and a couple of beers natch, with Kal to see how it went and he told me he thought it had been a very successful weekend, and was particularly impressed with what he called the “brilliant atmosphere” and happy to see so many people chilling and talking over the whole weekend.  He said the extra pumps they put on all worked ok for the most part as did the queuing system, and I think one of the things that made it most special was the family involvement with Jaz and his wife manning the front and Kal and his girls out back, and boy do they all work hard.  I do remember at one point Sam from Siren getting behind the bar to help so Kal could have a cigarette break and I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone smoke one so fast.  So, what a great birthday weekend, roll on number 22…for them not me 🙂

 

Birth of a Brewery pt 2

      As July slowly drifted into August and the holidays began for many people we thought it was time to drop into Mott St again and pay Chris and Rich another visit to see how they were getting on.  And the good news, as you can see from these few photos, is that progress is being made, brewing equipment has turned up, and plans are being made. P1000287 

      But before getting on to that we thought we’d get a bit of background on the guys who have known each other since meeting up in year 8 at school in Acocks Green.  Once they got a few years older they became drinking buddies mainly in Moseley because that’s where Chris lived, and like many of us, started off drinking lager and other things.  When Chris went to Birmingham Uni around 2006 they started drinking in town a bit more including the Wellington where they had one of their epiphany beers, Oakham Citra which we remember ourselves as being a mighty fine brew.  A couple of years later Chris got his first homebrew kit which he got decent results from after adding some Chinook hops , and then Rich followed suit.  After the first year of doing homebrews together and separately the seed of opening their own brewery was planted, but there was still a ways to go.  Having sampled both Thornbridge Jaipur and Brewdog Punk IPA they began to see the potential for beer, and once the latter brewery opened its bar in Birmingham the seed took hold a bit more as they realised there was a bit of a scene in the city, and they met more like minded people.  I can remember first meeting them at one of the tasting sessions that Jon Tucker used to run there, and you could tell they were passionate, and maybe even a little obsessed, with beer. They started seriously building towards the present kit over 3 years ago, gradually adding to it, and they had built a 6 tap bar at Rich’s house using corny kegs Their homebrewing skills became very noticeable to me when I went to the homebrew club that Sadler’s brewery in Lye ran for a short while.  Originally the plan was that over a few months the winning beers would be put on a list and some lucky homebrewer would get to brew their recipe on the pilot kit at their pub, the Windsor Castle.  But the quality was so good in the first one that the winner got chance to do that, and that winner was Richard Murphy…and he won again the 2nd month which led to him getting a job at the brewery.
He said he pretty much went in at the deep end and was soon brewing on the 30 barrel kit and gaining excellent experience, but a visit to the Fixed Wheel tap with Chris pretty much convinced them that it was now or never if they were going to do it.  And so here we are. When we visited a lot of tools were on display and it had very much of a DIY aspect to it, unlike some breweries who obviously have a fair amount of money behind them.  But again their passion is evident when they showed off a picture on Chris’s phone of the last FV they are awaiting, and when discussing the plans for the tap house.  I particularly like the idea of the bar having a glass front to showcase their beer journey in the form of the bottles they have enjoyed and been inspired by.  So the guys have a few more long days ahead of them as they carry on kitting the place out, but we’ll be back for part 3 soon when it’s time to start brewing

 

It’s A Wrap

      It seems to have been a bit of a quiet week on the old beer scene, it was good to see the announcement of a taproom and lambic bar from Beer Gonzo (@beergonzo1) in Coventry although it is a bit of a ways away yet.  Also, in case you missed it, Rock & Roll Brewhouse (@RocknRollBrew) are having a soft opening on Friday for their new tap room, Twisted Barrel (@TwistBarrelAle)have been whetting the appetite with the brewery announcements for the Summer of Far Go Beer Festival – details here https://www.facebook.com/events/1769293146674525/

and the Dark Horse in Moseley (@DarkHorseMosele) announced a tap takeover by Thornbridge for Thurs 26th, more details here https://www.facebook.com/events/309726366040396/

      But really there are only 2 things to talk about this week.  First off, that their Cloudwater Brewery (@cloudwaterbrew) from oop north in Manchester are releasing DIPA v6 & v7 this weekend and they will be available in either bottles and/or keg at Tilt, Cotteridge Wines, Stirchley Wine, Clink and the Wildcat. These guys are making consistently good beers, and we are looking forward to seeing what they have brought to the table with these latest iterations…expect lots of twitter and Untappd activity on Saturday evening.  And we had a quick chat with Jaz at Cotteridge Wine to find out more about their triple meet the brewer on Aug 26th, from 5 – 9pm.  You probably know by now that the latest version of Rule of Thirds has been brewed at Magic Rock, so to celebrate staff from Beavertown, Siren, and Magic Rock will be on hand to chat about this unique collaboration.  As well as the aforementioned beer in cans and on keg there will be 3 beers from each brewery including the beers that started it all -Soundwave, Gamma Ray, and Cannonball – other core beers, and maybe a special or 2.  Once again well done to the guys for organising such a special event.

      One thing we have been doing is reading a few interesting blogs, so if you want to know more about DIPA v6 & 7 check this out http://cloudwaterbrew.co/blog/v6-v7

For a take on what a newbie thought of a beer tasting event we have this

https://afemaleview.net/2016/07/23/guest-post-what-happens-at-a-beer-tasting/

Rebecca Pate (@rpate) will make you a tiny bit jealous with this appraisal of the launch party for London Beer City

http://www.brewingeast.com/home/2016/8/9/london-beer-city-2016-the-launch-and-the-libations

And Mark Johnsons (@MarkNJohnson) write up on Manchester beer week is an eye opener on a few different levels – http://www.beercompurgation.co.uk/

     So that’s all for now, hope to see some of you over the next couple of weeks at some of these events, and don’t forget to vote for us here

http://www.birminghamawards.co.uk/index.php/voting/

Many Thanks – Dave & Bob

 

The Plant Room @ The Botanist – Competition Winners Beer Tasting

When we were approached to work in partnership with The Botanist to celebrate the opening of The Plant Room by offering one of our followers the chance to win a beer tasting we jumped at the chance.  We had a great time when we attended one, you can find Dave’s review here

The eventual winner was Ian Jewkes, and we are delighted to bring you his review of the night.

So after winning the Midlands Beer Blog /Botanist Competition, the race was on to allocate tickets for free to friends to drink free beer. 8 spaces were allocated, 7 were filled – although it was kind of filled later anyway. So on a warm, sunny, humid day, we all arrived at our rendezvous – The Botanist bar in Birmingham. It’s a trendy bar, serving cocktails, gins and about 80 different beers and ciders. It was 3pm on a Saturday and it was packed with people, always a good sign that bar is doing something right if it’s full.

We tried a few beers, just to get out pallets up to speed. Samuel Adams, Pacific and Passionate Blonde were all consumed by our party – all were given the thumbs up.

At just gone 4pm, we were called down to The Plant Room to begin our beer tasting session. This was its opening day and our prize was to test it out.

Firstly we noticed how nicely air conditioned it was. The décor was great and the staff were very friendly too.

Then our beer guru, Kieran turned up. We all warmed to him immediately and for the duration too. He was informative, and presented the whole thing in a nice easy way. We also invited him to have a few samples with us as our unofficial 8th member of our party.

So, to the most important bit….the beers.

Beer 1


Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier. So we started with this smokey beer – it caught us all by surprise. Andy Hall noticed that it had an aroma of chorizo or something similar. We all tended to agree. Pete Booth and Andy Hall both suggested this would work well with chorizo or smoked cheeses. We then ordered some food of this type and indeed it did work well. Personally I thought it might be nice as an alternative to a whiskey at the end of a meal or after a couple of beers as a nightcap.

Beer 2


Oude Gueze Cuvee Rene. So the second beer arrived and we were warned by our guru that this would be sour. Think champagne in style mixed with beer and cider and I’d have said this was something like that. Out of our 7, only 1 gave it the thumbs up. 65 year old Mick Booth said that he actually felt it cleaned his pallet from the smokey beer and was quite nice.

Beer 3

Schneider Weisse Tap 6.

This stronger, darker beer from Germany was elected to be consumed with the remainder of the food. It’s too dark for me and came in quite strong. There didn’t seem much love for this one at our table, even from Dai Hope, who likes darker beers. It wasn’t one that nobody liked, just wasn’t one that anyone loved either.

Beer 4

Beavertown Gammaray.


This American Pale Ale in a can, seemed to throw some of our party, who don’t normally drink anything from a can. That said, one didn’t like it as it was deemed too hoppy and floral but the rest thought it was ok. I’m getting quite partial to these beers, so found it refreshing.

Beer 5

Beavertown Black Betty.

This Black IPA went down well. It looked heavy and dark, but surprisingly went down well with most of us. I think the colour put most of the pale ale fans, but when they tried it, I think they were all pleasantly surprised.

Beer 6

Einstock Icelandic White Ale.

So this one I’d tried previously. I had already told everyone it was a good beer. When everyone tasted their sample of it, they too loved it. Its fruit, refreshing and has that little bit of something afterwards on your tongue, probably the coriander. Certainly on a hot summers day a winner. Martin Clews thought this one was great. I couldn’t disagree, but I’m biased on this one.

Beer 7


Einstock Toasted Porter

This extra beer, was kindly given to us, so that I could complete my Einstock tasting range, as I’ve also previously tried their pale ale too. Not a dark beer or a porter fan, I wasn’t hoping for much here. In the end, we were all pleasantly surprised with it. Not overpowering or too strong, is has nice flavours. Dale, our ale expert thought it was good and Dai our dark beer fan gave it the thumbs up too.

The food course provided by the Botanist was beautiful. Hams, scotch eggs, piccalilli, Chorizo, breads etc. All really worked and brilliant presented.

So, just for fun we decided to take a vote on the favourite beer. Einstock Icelandic White Ale won with 4 votes. The Einstock Porter next with 2 votes and then, the Beavertown Black Betty with 1 vote. Even though these beers had taken our fancy, the ones we spent the most time talking about though were the smokey Aecht Schlenferla Rauchbier and the sour Oude Gueze Cuvee Rene.

Afterwards we drank a Camden Wit each, which again was similar to the Einstock White and was recommended to us by our guru. This then was followed by another Pacific and Samuel Adams.

Andy thought it was a great day out and wouldn’t hesitate to do it again.

Dai thought it really good, and as it was his birthday, added to his celebrations.

Dale thought it nice to try a varied set of beers.

Martin was over the moon with it. Would definitely do it again and said the whole experience was great.

Pete thought it good and the added bonus of the food when requested really worked with his tasting experience.

Mick as our oldest attendee, thought it a fantastic day out and would recommend to all.

Myself, I thought it was great too. Never tried smokey or sour beers before, so to try those was a real eye opener.

The general feeling was that we would all do this again as it was nice to try the beers and a fun way to spend a few hours together.

Thanks for letting us attend.

Cheers!

Ian Jewkes

Birmingham Beer Bash – Travelers Tales

We had a fantastic time at Birmingham Beer bash this year and were very pleased to have Lucy give us a write up about one of the fringe events Birmingham Beer Bash: Dea Latis Brewsters Brunch.

We have often said that a successful beer scene in Birmingham will bring people to the city from further afield.  The following are snippets and links to blogs from two such people who arrive in a pincer movement from North and South.

Martin Oates of Beer is the Answer made the journey up from down south with his Brother…

IMAG0161
Photo from Beer is The Answer 

Saturday 23rd July, went for a run, abandoned son to an afternoon with his grandparents (still not sure they “get” Pokémon Go though) and headed off to Birmingham with the youngest of my two brothers.

check out the rest of the wonderful write up at:

http://blogno1mjpo007.blogspot.co.uk/2016/08/birmingham-beer-bash-that-was-fun.html

And from the North Beers Manchester had a great time, despite a phone disaster.

wp-1469366030981
Photo from Beers Manchester

This was my first time. And, like most people know, for good or ill, you remember the first.

#EvilKegFilth only. And on a day like Friday, that was absolutely fine by me!

Red the rest of the blog here:

https://beersmanchester.wordpress.com/2016/07/24/birmingham-beer-bash-22072016/

David Martin brought together visitors from across the country:

For all its imperfections, Birmingham is often praised by newcomers for its friendliness and unpretentiousness – and there too lies the appeal of the Beer Bash.

I’m no fan of clubbiness, exclusivity or obsessions – I’m not a pressure group person – and the Bash smartly avoids all these pitfalls. My Saturday daytime party (each year bringing more people) was five dad’s, each bringing a twenty-something son/daughter, travelling in from London to Lancashire. And that says something – because the Bash is neither too fashionably self-conscious to put off us older ones, nor is it too earnest for the young ones. We just share an enthusiasm for good, interesting, innovative beer and food, and the banter that follows.


The beer range works for the adventurous and the cautious, the food is on-trend and high quality, and the venue works well (despite the wasteland walk from the station); the numbers attending keep it manageable from a service angle, but are enough to drive the atmosphere. You get the feel of an ‘event’, without the downsides of large scale or over-ambition.

CoETObXW8AArRmX


It’s unfair to name favourites, but Blackjack’s addition this year was a real plus, and those Patty Men nailed it again. Saturday afternoon’s musicians deserve a mention too.

Of course these things are never perfect – more seating for eating would help. But the event’s laid back sociability is its trademark, and that’s probably down to its unassuming origins. And that’s where the last word should go, to the team who created the Bash out of sheer enthusiasm and graft with – as far as I know – no prior history of organising big event. Long may they run.

You can also check out some photos from Francis Clarke of Open Up Digital here:-

https://www.flickr.com/photos/francisclarkephotography/sets/72157671436571876/

Photos by Francis Clarke is licensed by CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

and a short video from Slinky Productions here:-

We had a great time at the Bash and look forward to 2017.

 

 

Birth of a Brewery pt 1

     On July 19th Birmingham’s newest brewery finally took possession of the keys to their new premises in Mott St, formerly home to Two Towers, and now the hard work begins for Chris Small and Richard Murphy.  We stopped by in the evening to take a couple of photos

and have a brief chat in the hopes of charting the journey from empty building to first beer. They are a 5 barrel brewery with 4 fermentation vessels one of which is ready for carbonation, and at present they plan to do cask, keg, and bottle. Although they had a strong sense of what is entailed over the next few weeks the fact that the premises had already housed one brewery meant they weren’t starting completely from scratch. And when it is all complete the plan is to have the brewery at the back and a tap room at the front selling their own and other beers. This will give them chance, like many brewers, to interact with their customers and get an immediate reaction to the beers, especially the more experimental small batches.  If all goes well they hope to be brewing mid August and we can’t wait to see how things go. Finally we had to ask if there was any particular inspiration for the name Burning Soul and were told it’s meant to convey passion, for beer, for using quality ingredients and for making the best possible beer they can. Having chatted to them over recent months I know they have an “insatiable desire to put our lives into this” as they put it, have already made sacrifices and are very committed to making a success of this project.

P1000248We will be visiting again soon to keep track of their progress, and you can read more at http://burningsoulbrewing.com/