Emerging from the storm...
It’s been a hell of a ride hasn’t it? It’s also been a long time coming, this blog. Initially this was supposed to have been written about a year ago, as we emerged from a lockdown, but then we were thrown into another. And really it’s just been ploughing through and surviving. A long way from this time two years ago when we were booking tickets to Liverpool and about to be bamboozled by SIBA and be awarded the UK’s Best Craft Beer Retailer - Single Location at their 2020 Business Awards.
Over the last two years the market has changed significantly, with breweries selling direct to survive - and as they are continuing to do so - this means consumer behaviour has changed. There’s been a dramatic shift. We now compete against our own suppliers and some release beers to consumers before shops/retailers can even buy them. We’ve even had customers say on a few occasions “Oh no, I had that last week” when we only received the stock the day before. This is often followed by “Yeah, you introduced me to this brewery, they are great!”. Luckily there are lots of other great independent breweries and producers we can support.
Supporting independent retail as we come out of the pandemic is more important than ever. Whatever you are buying, it’s important to remember the relationships we build and have built over the last two challenging years. The advice we receive from independent retailers, from butchers, to florists to specialist off-licences like ourselves is invaluable. People put their heart and soul into their businesses, and it’s important to remember this as we move further towards normality.
So, as we emerge into a stage where government restrictions have been lifted, we’ll continue to respect peoples decisions to wear masks or not. We’ll still provide hand sanitiser for customers and we are likely to keep our masks on when serving or being in close proximity. This may change and fluctuate over time due to personal reasons, but our goal has always been to keep you and us safe.
We hope we can continue being a safe space to drink and buy beer and will endeavour to bring you the best beer and best experience we can. Let us know if anything is awry, or if there is anything we can improve. After all, we’re your shop too.
Anyway, let’s get positive. Who are our hotshots and what we’ll be keeping an eye on and stocking more of over the coming year.
We first met one of the Andy’s from Abyss in a Worthing hostelry, he was doing a delivery as we quaffed pints of Tropical Thunder, their IPA. We told him our plan and swapped numbers. Abyss actually did our first ever Meet The Brewery as part of Tryanuary way back in 2019. They recently opened an amazing Taproom in Lewes and are talking about new exciting beery projects. Some barrel-ageing amongst other things. During lockdown they collaborated with Saint Mars of the Desert and introduced us to them. Andrew is a confident head brewer, he loves his subject and talking about the tweaks and nuances of his beers. We’re excited about what this year holds for them, and are looking forward to getting deeper into the Abyss. Fancy it?
Beak Brewery - Mixed Fermentation project
We’re in Lewes again and many know Beak for their hazy drinkable IPAs, but what we’re looking forward to this year is their mixed fermentation project. When we did our online Meet the Brewery with Danny from Beak back in March last year he hinted at some exciting things in the world of mixed ferm. Well, just two miles from the Brewery they have teamed up with a local farmer and have planted 6 acres of their own Barley. They’re growing mixed heritage grains. Mixing the grains means they have thought about environmental fluctuations which in turn will give each year its own grain bill. Some years one variety will be stronger meaning each years crop will give different results, described by Johnny Garrett from The Craft Beer Channel when interviewing Head Brewer Robin Head-Foreman as each year having “it’s own Vintage”. They also have one acre of Rye and an Acre of Wheat. They should yield around 5 tonnes of grain per year, specifically for their mixed ferm beers. Expect to see them at ours, and we’re sure one or two will make it into one of our Bottle Share events.
Although not that well known locally we’ve become huge fans of this Reading Based Brewery whose MD Luci Clayton is fast becoming one of the leading female figures in UK Brewing. Their Taproom in Reading is supposed to be a thing of beauty. Again another brewery we really picked up on during lockdown, we knew of them and knew that they were mates with Andy (Elusive), so they had to be good right? Their beers have been a hit, from juicy IPAs to sours and both big and small stouts. We’re looking forward to what they do in 2022. And we’ll take you along for the ride, if you like?
Our Norfolk pals who we oddly have yet to meet in person - but that’s coming in June when they head down to Beer No Evil HQ for a meet the brewery (we will share more details on this soon). They have been refining their core range and Turtles All The Way Down their American Pale Ale is fast becoming a Beer No Evil classic. After a pre-lockdown Twitter conversation we’ve been supporting them since day one. They have a great ethos and are strong supporters of the Indie Beer World. Their mixed ferm and foudre beers are getting more and more exciting, and they just collaborated with a certain Burning Sky Brewery, and Mark Tranter headed up to Norfolk for a Brew Day. Expect to see this one at ours when it’s ready.
Andy Parker, homebrew buddy, general good guy, and the “nicest man in beer”. He’s just been named one of the ones to watch in Pellicle Magazines Trendsetters and Trailblazers for 2022. Andy did our first Meet the Brewery online during the first lockdown then joined us for our first in person Meet The Brewery in October. The brewery has some expansion plans this year, they are modest and true to Andy and Elusive’s goal of still remaining a small operation with a family style team. They make great beers. Oregon Trail their West Coast IPA has fast become a favourite of those who love that classic US style IPA of yesteryear. But it is still a modern beer. And is sure to become a classic. The Black IPA still remains a staple, and we think Andy and Team Elusive are those who have revived it to a style we’re seeing more and more of. And you can expect to see more of Team Elusive’s beers at ours.
Saint Mars of The Desert
We’ll be welcoming SMOD to our first Meet the Brewery for 2022 at Beer No Evil in March. It sold out within 8 hours, demand was so high we have a reserve list for the night. With head honchos Martha, Dann and The Grimbold heading down we’re very excited. They have some pedigree too. Dann started brewing in New England and was there when New England IPAs were actually bitter, and was one of the first brewers in the US to brew oak aged sour beers. Martha is a microbiologist and a trained brewer and they owned a brewery, Pretty Things, in Massachusetts, New England, before relocating to Sheffield in 2019. They create awesome beers. From delicious IPAs to traditional Belgian styles but all with that SMOD character and style.
360 Degree Brewing
When we first moved to Worthing five years ago, 360 were a brewery we’d see on cask, always enjoyable but just another pint. During the first lockdown we met Ben, one of their sales guys, he bought us samples, we tried them, he wanted honest feedback, which we gave. Since then the brewery has taken on board feedback, amped up it’s beers, and are producing some absolutely amazing and experimental beers. Endless Summer - A New England IPA only using new British hop varieties. A yeast experiment, two beers, same grist, same hops, one version using Verdant Yeast one London Fog. We’ve also heard rumours of barrels and collaborations with vineyards. It all sounds very exciting, and if they keep going the way they are we’ll be following them.
Thanks for reading, we’d love to know who you’d like us to keep an eye out for too. We know we’ve missed many, and could go on for donkeys. The amount of great beer out there is amazing and it’s what keeps us excited.
Gareth and Gemma