Bank holidays, lovely idea unless you have to work them or you run a department which depends on deliveries around them. I’m on a train destined for London to begin my beer themed London weekend in London. There is something about train journeys from Cornwall which is relaxing and always reaffirms my love of England. The wilds of Cornwall giving way to the verdant fertility of Devon and Somerset and then the lush calm of Wiltshire and West Berks. After Reading excitement builds with the stunning Slough, Feltham and finally Paddington in all its dirty glory. I’m looking forward to the funny feeling that only London can bring.
My week in the brewery has been positive with the pressure on capacity providing a challenging balance. Last night Sharp’s said goodbye to the old management/owners, Messrs Baker and Keohane, who had been working as consultants since the sale to Molson Coors. They are off to grow another brand, this time in the world of Chocolate. The next comment is entirely conjectured but I wouldn’t be surprised if the brewing industry saw them again at some point in the future. I didn’t get the chance to have a final firm handshake because I was in the brewery until late. I wish them well and thank them for giving me the opportunity to contribute to a success story as well as a few very good rugby tickets.
Next week sees me away from the brewery in Burton and London for a lot of the week so I am hoping that the brewery doesn’t miss me so much that it spontaneously implodes as is typical.
It is now 10 o’clock on Saturday morning and I am sitting in front of the laptop, full of Premier breakfast after what was an exceptionally beautiful evening with the Camden team. Everything about Camden is impressive; the beer, the equipment, the passion but most importantly the people. In Troels Prahl they have an exceptional brewer with a very bright future ahead of him. Camden have more control over their beer than breweries in the UK who are 20 times the size. Camden beers are clean, crisp and brilliantly professional. Our blend promises to a very interesting beer. An aged 10% barley wine brewed before Camden opened, blended with their crisp, fresh weissbier, beers between which there were more differences than similarities. There are also plenty of synergies and notes which dominated each beer have been brought into line in a wonderfully even flavour profile. The finished blend should be complex and dangerously-drinkable for a 7.5% beast.
The afternoon and evening spent there is the highlight of my year so far. As we sat talking about beer, brewing and brewers there was a connection of brewing souls, hearts and minds. The stresses of the week melted away as the London sunshine leaked in through the arched windows. The sheer enthusiasm and energy of James and Jasper was both inspiring and corrupting to a man fighting an obsession with beer!
I am 3 hours away from meeting the Barley’s Angels. I hope they are gentle with me.