If there were a Beer Festival 101. A lesson in how to create a programme of events that draws in ticker, beer geek, dabbler and novice alike then Melbourne Good Beer Week would be it. I love beer, but I’m a bit non-plussed when it comes to beer fests. I’m much the same with music festivals. I listen to music year round, like to get to gigs year round, not tick the boxes in one weekend and declare myself a music lover. There’s one exception. All Tomorrows Parties. I’ve been only once and crave the next. Melbourne Good Beer Week to me is the beer equivalent. I’ve not actually been but I covet that experience. Everything from the branding, ads with no frothing pint of beer, to the teaser video draw me in. Then the actual programme of events. An innovative mix to educate and intoxicate. Check it out but be prepared to consider a long flight if you’re anywhere other than the east of Oz.
Chinese craft brewing isn’t something that is at the forefront of the minds of most, but at Slow Boat Brewery two Americans are starting their own revolution in Chinese brewing. We catch up with Chandler Jurinka to get the lowdown.
Slow Boat Brewery is a small American style craft brewery, located in the outskirts of Beijing. We aim to produce small batches of hand crafted micro brews unique to the Beijing market.
First beer experience…
I can’t really recall the first pub experience but I do remember the first microbrew I had in one. It was so different, so flavorful and beyond anything I had tried previously that it inspired me to become a brewer years later.
Tell us about Slowboat…
At it,s core Slow Boat is two American’s living and brewing craft beer in Beijing. The name Slow Boat comes from the era 40’s song written about a journey that originates in the USA destined for China. The ingredients used in our beers are imported so we are bringing something very American to the local Chinese consumer.
Collectively, my business partner and I have lived in China for over 13 years. The USA is our home but China is where we currently live. We got tired of whingeing about watery beer and decided to do something about it.
Is there a craft brewing movement in China….
It’s been a relatively recent phenomenon that seems like it was a long time in the making. For many years ex-pats have been craving good beer that tastes like home. Curious Chinese and those previously exposed to brews while working and studying abroad were also pushing demand. Bottled imports slowly started to trickle in, but the next natural step was brewing fresh beer, and that meant building a brewery here in Beijing. As that was going on, the home brew movement was making progress, clubs, and co-ops have been gathering strength. The market seems ready for it all.
A quiet place where I can get a proper pint of a hoppy IPA, original music and something interesting to look at, on the walls or out the windows—that will keep me amused for hours.
A place where I can’t get service, and I have to out-shout the music and the crowd noise just to be heard—that will send me out the doors pretty quickly.
I spend a lot of time at the brewery located outside of the city proper. At the same time the concept of a local pub hasn’t really taken off in Beijing yet. But if there were a pub with good beer near my house that my friends and I could regularly visit, that would be my favorite.
Favourite non local…
The best pub, the Pelican Pub on the Oregon coast. It’s right on the beach, so you can sit there, watch the fog banks come and go, the surf roll, and sip a proper pint of some of the best micro brews in the world. Fantastic.
What’s on the horizon…
Henry Ford once said “If I listened to my customers, I’d have built a faster horse.” We will continue to push the local beer palate here in China with unique hoppy creations. Our brewery just doubled in capacity to keep up with demand. We are close to bottling and with that distributing to more cities in China. On the local front, we’re also looking forward to our first (local) taproom that will have 15 of our beers on tap.
Find out more about Slow Boat Brewery by following the link
Plenty of times i’ve stood at the bar, eyed the pumpclips and been at a loss. Faced with a lineup of bad design in both name and graphic. You know the kind of thing: Rudolf’s Christmas Fart, with a picture of flatulent reindeer and a pile of carrots. In these situations i’ll look again at the clips, the brewers and the style, but in some circumstances i’ll just take a punt. Great discoveries happen this way and I enjoy wobbling to the bar towards closing for another pint of Fart. That was the old world, where a line of real ale pumps wasn’t just a cruel mirage. Now, i’m drinking as much bottled as I am tap, trying to get a better handle on the Aussie beer scene, but faced with a similar situation I recently went for good design and a good name with a bottle of Doss Blockos.
As the title of this post suggests it was a case of style over substance, that ended in a judgement of meh. I love the bottle design and the name, but started to become a little dubious as the bottle was placed in a brown paper bag, with no glass offered. Now, i’m in my mid 30′s, i’ve kinda got passed drinking in the park and the hobo style isn’t for me. The barmans bepuzzlement at the request for a glass told me that perhaps I should have gone for another $10 can of Punk (a price which lives up to the Sex Pistols ideal of Punk no doubt… take the money and run). Let’s just say that the almost indiscernable taste wouldn’t have been heightened by a brown paper bag. Great design and great beer is a truly wonderful union but this perhaps reinforces that beer is always king and design comes a close second.
Note: Sorry to disappoint but I don’t believe Rudolf’s Christmas Fart exists but i’m willing to give the name up to Skinners should they wish to brew some Farts.
Perth. The dullest place on Earth. 2000KM from Adelaide, which in itself is a big country town. Melbourne, is the epicentre of Aussie cool… or a second class London... All statements leveled my way in the last few months and all complete bullshit. This isn’t so much a full on defence of Perth more a few points to those who aren’t sold on this city. I obviously have a bit of a thing for this place, otherwise I wouldn’t have moved 14500 km (9000 miles in old money) to live here. I’ve got to say the city on the Swan River – the most isolated developed city in the world – has thrown me a few beautiful curves that I didn’t expect.
Perth’s summer festival season is in full swing with the Perth International Arts Festival and Fringe serving up a programme that is sure to meet the cultural needs of even the most ardent Perth detractor. My main festival picks are still to come but the Rachael Dease show, City of Shadows, was an unexpected joy. If a show about a grainy black and white world of murder, suicide and the darker side of human nature can be a joy. It works for Nick Cave I suppose. A hit with audiences in New York and a winner of last years Fringe, I was lucky to get a chance to see it. The clip below gives you an idea.
Away from the Festival, there’s Street Art, Street Food and… Beer. Which as some will know are a few things that make me tick. A city where people write on walls is my kind of place. The street food movement is taking off and there’ll surely be a further boom in this area.
The beer… sure, it’s $10 upwards a pint but it’s good beer and that’s worth paying for (I’m half way to not flinching when I get the bill). Mainly drinking the likes of Feral, Nail, Little Crteatures and the brewers of the Eastern states I’ll give a particular mention to the pint of 5AM Saint I had recently. On keg, it was easily the best i’ve had… anywhere. Whether this says something about consistency, how a beer copes with travel, I’m not sure. It was just a nice reminder of home. One day it’ll perhaps be a keg of Magic Rock or The Kernel, but maybe this is a hop dream too far.
I recently wrote a piece for The West Australian about the rise of the homebrewer. I say rise, but i’m not sure they ever went away. I just think that a new generation got interested who are a bit more connected so we have the impression that it’s a new wave… I don’t know, maybe you can tell me? Anyway I came across this and in the interests of sharing, i’ve posted it. It grabs me in a number of ways. One, that I really want to homebrew and only have a very small space to do it in. This reaffirms that small brewing is something I should be doing. Second, its a couple working together, something that i’ve recently started doing – having set up a business partnership (with the wife). Third, it features the city that rivals London for my affections (sorry Perth, you turn me on in different ways).
Oh, and the piece from The West, you can find here.
So It’s been a while since my last post but as is the way, life takes over and something has to give. Namely this. I’ve always hated posts full of fake apology – as if my absence from the blogging space would weigh too heavily on anyones mind – but i’ll just say that preparing to get wed, planning months of travel, leaving your job, moving home and hemisphere all at the same time isn’t a recipe for having time on your hands.
That’s not to say that i’ve not had any chance to indulge, just that i’ve not had the time or mental capacity to string a sentence together. So as I ease myself back in after the short hiatas i’ll just list some of the highlights, which I may expand on in the coming weeks.
Friends of Ham, Leeds
If you follow on Twitter (@thepubdiaries) you may have seen a flurry of Ham related activity as I recently turned porcine fanboy. My visit to Friends of Ham, was much anticipated (bt me, not them). For months there had been talk of its opening and I watched at a distance through social media. The name intrigued me, the logo enticed me and when I finally got to visit the space and the people in it beguiled me. A craft beer bar, come charcuterie where Cheers style everyone knows your name (but maybe that’s @lordofthebeers fault for pre-tweeting my arrival). Quite simply the best bar i’ve been to in years.
Cock Tavern, Hackney
In between the planning, packing and honing wedding playlists, I have been doing more and more freelance writing. Pots of espresso at 5am have become the norm as I juggle deadlines (lets just say i’d never get a job in the circus) and try and remember what the hell i’m writing about. Many of these have been for View London and as much as I love to find a new pub to add to the beer drinkers equivalent of the Knowledge it can start to wear slightly. Until the assignment is the Cock Tavern in Hackney. It’s up there with Friends of Ham, which is why i’ve put the two together and you can read all about it here. It’s places like this that reinvigorate me and make me realise why I do what I do.
London Fields Brewery, Hackney
I am a late comer to the charms of this East London brewer, but have fallen for them in a big way. When I discussed the beer list for the wedding I wanted some relatively cheap bottles of well known beer for the guzzlers amongst the guest list. Asahi was the choice. We then had a mix of Meantime and the other usual suspects. It still didn’t grab me and while I was tempted to just let it go, Clerkenwell Kitchen’s manager Ciaran came through with a suggestion of London Fields. It fitted the bill in terms of being locally sourced and with a craft angle. There’s nothing better than looking round and seeing people eskew their normal habits, holding a big bottle of Hackney Hopster or Love Not War (apt for the event I thought) and more importantly enjoying it.
My reaction to Sheffield. Who Knew? Well quite a few people it seems but it’s taken me a while to cotton on. Having family in Leeds it has always been a place I passed through – a marker on the M1 that said almost home. Somewhere people told me to visit but until now I’d ignored. With Lou attending the annual Doc Fest it seemed like a good opportunity to finally visit and added to which, the thought that she may get to the Sheffield Tap before me was truly horrifying (er, i meant the thought of a weekend without her truly horrified me… Did i get away with that?).
As my coach pulled into Chesterfield, a couple of miles down the road, I have flashbacks of Friday nights in a Northern town. It’s just after 10pm and post football jubilance is overspilling into the streets. Quite literally, as a swaying punter urinates against a phonebox. I get a text to say that Lou will be at an industry thing (read party) and that I should make my way to the hotel. As I head out of the bus station it’s unclear what the quickest way is and I go with my gut feeling, which within minutes sees me facing the Sheffield Tap – fancy that!
This is a pub I’ve coveted for some years. It may sound sad to covet a pub but I’ve heard people talk of it with a glint in the eye which was more than a half cut glaze. It must be credited with introducing countless travellers (it being in Sheffield train station) to great beers beyond their normal experience.
As I sit at the bar it’s rich pickings for a seasoned people watcher. From the beer geeks drawn to the Pondhopper (Thornbridge / Odell co-brew) or the two brash mockney lads who saunter in fresh from the train. The brasher of the two tells his mate “goin for a slash geez, get me the strongest fing they got”. This raises a smile from those in the know. Looking down the bar the lad looks in need of help. Turning to me, devoid of any previous swagger, he asks whether they do Stella. I point him in the direction of the Bernard and he looks visibly relieved. As his friend returns he tastes, looks at the pump and delivers his verdict: “it ain’t Stella but it’ll do”. Smiles turn to slight shaking of heads and rolling eyes.
As I drink my way down the taps – chatting with the staff and observing the oohs, aahs and puzzled faces – I can see why this place has a special place in many people’s journeys and why for some this is the reason for the journey itself.
I head for the hotel before I’m in danger of the morning after regret of staying for another; wondering that if this is a welcome to Sheffield what else awaits.
I’m sent quite a few links and comments to beer related stuff which I rarely post. I enjoy it all but don’t re-post all as it doesn’t always seem relevant. I today received two that I will comment on.
My future, Aussie-Dutch father in law sent me this info proving that you can be an out and out Aussie but still retain that streak of Europeanism (Is that a Bushism?).
Second is from my possible future brother in law (keep up people). I have been teaching him the ways of craft beer. This involves his massive hangover and the future sister in law declaring me a bad influence (me, a bad influence? Never!). I’m proud of my work with him so far and that this was his email today:
“I was tempted to a pub at Heathrow (terminal 1, the Goose) by their advert with references to “craft beer”. Like a space ship caught in the deathstar’s tractor beam I followed my nose. I thought to myself, “what better way to start a 3 day holiday to Iceland?… with a decent pint!?…. I sat down and requested a craft beer to be told, “sorry, we’re out”. My following three requests were also followed by “sorry, we’re out”. The waiter then shocked me with his next comment, “how about a Fosters?”… Ffs!!… I hope my holiday improves from here!!! I’m now drinking a Stella… 1 notch better than a pint of urine!”
Travel is supposed to be a pleasure! But there’s places peddling Fosters… Tell us your beer horrors and triumphs.
As the bunting is strung up and Londoners prepare for public transport meltdown, Pub Diaries is here to tell you beer drinking proles what else is happening in the capital this weekend. If your idea of a good day isn’t watching Her Maj’s booze cruise putter down the Thames here are a few alternatives which may float your boat.
Saturday 2nd June – The Euston Tap, Lager Party
A day of Punk and Hotdogs awaits at the Euston Tap’s Lager Party. Czech Pilsner, Bavarian Helles, local boys Camden and their Black Friday await. For fans of self styled beer punks Brewdog there will be an exclusive supply of Growler, a Citra infused lager. We’re told that they’ll be using the UK’s only Randall beer infuser.
Sunday 3rd June 13:00, The White Hart – Stoke Newington Literary Festival – Pete Brown’s Beer & Music Matching
Billed as Pete and his iPod I’m thinking this could go either way. After seeing him tweet Eurovision on Saturday night I’m hoping that I’m not subjected to an afternoon of Boom Bang a Bang. At £4 for a beer flight and the opportunity to hear the beery bard I’m willing to take the risk. Tickets are selling out so get in while you can!
All Weekend, The Cavendish, Stockwell
I’ve always been a fan of The Cav and they know how to throw a party. They’ll have events from Friday onward. Balkan Bebop, Burlesque, BBQ, Bingo and other letters of the alphabet.
Know of other events going on? Pop it in the comments… God Save The Queen
The Q&A comes this week from Greg Avola, the NYC based coder and beer geek behind Untappd
Living in the craft beer haven of New York City, I’m the backend developer for Untappd. After experiencing Rare Vos for the first time, I instantly fell in love with craft beer. While some people enjoy reading books or watching movies, my passion is to coding.
Passionate, Funny, Controlled, Outgoing, Humble
The truth of the matter is that I, nor my co-founder Tim Mather, were ever in to beer before Untappd was made. We saw a potential with the social media industry to connect the dots on something that is very socially, but never had that represented in a social network. I first tried Rare Vos about 2 years ago and fell in love with Belgian and craft beer. Once I did that – I never looked back.
Best beer find of the last year…
My favorite beer is Pliny the Elder and I had a chance to have it draft when I was last in San Francisco, CA. It’s an amazing beer that tastes 100% different on tap than in the bottle.
What sounds are to be heard as you work…
Typically I listen to a lot of techno music when I’m working on Untappd. When coding, I like the repetition of the beats which helps me code better, believe it or not. Most of the time I use Spotify to deliver that music.
If I wasn’t coding I’d be…
Great question – because coding is my hobby and my passion. If I’m not coding, I’m most likely sleeping, eating or hanging out with family. I would say I code about 75% of the time.
Before I was coding I was…
I was in school studying how to code and build computers. I used to build a lot of custom computers for friends and family and was really into all the technology specifications of motherboards, video cards, and hard drives.
Favourite thing about what I do…
My favorite thing about what I did is the ability to help people solve problems. Nothing gives me greater joy to hear feedback from a user about how they used and liked the service. At the end of the day, we’re not really saving lives, but we are making lives easier for some people and that’s what it’s all about.
Brewers you look up to…
For me – it’s Shane Welch from SIxpoint in New York. I think his vision and direction for the brewery and industry as a whole is very fresh and new. He has passion for beer and making a quality product is something that I strive for in my work with Untappd.
The app I wish I’d come up with…
I think the logical answer is Instagram, because I love photography and the app allows anyone to fill that void. Of course the fact that it was just bought for 1 billion dollars helps too.
A pub that has a great beer selection with tie integration with Untappd, meaning that when someone check-ins to a beer at that bar, their face would appear next to the beer. That would be an great interactive element for a beer list.
My biggest peev is incorrect beer names, as it causes people to create beers on Untappd. For example if a bar calls Nugget Necter, Troeges Necter Red, that causes issues with your Database.
Favourite local pub…
It’s a tough one but I would have to say The Pony Bar in NYC. $5 craft beers all day / night long is something you can’t beat.
Favourite non local pub…
The Stone Bistro Gardens in CA was my favorite in the country so far. Amazing beer, food and views.
Advice any aspiring brewer / app developer / tech startup…
Never give up and keep pushing yourself. Users want to be part of something that they feel part of, so always interact with your users and make sure they feel welcome. I love meeting Untappd users because I want to thank them for being part of the community.
What’s on the horizon…
We have a lot of great stuff coming up soon as we try to make Untappd the best product for beer and bar discovery. We also want to focus our efforts on making a better recommendation engine. If I told you – where would the fun be in that?