Weekend Reading #68

This weeks edition features articles on Australian hop farms, a look at trademarks, an interview with Jasper of Camden Town and a little on beer & food pairing

For those quiet moments on the weekend when you’re able to catch up on a little reading – Weekend Reading is a weekly (ahem, usually) post with the articles I’ve enjoyed in the past seven days.


Good Beer Hunting | Critical Drinking with Jasper Cuppaidge of Camden Town Brewery

This is a really interesting interview given it’s been about six months since the sale of Camden Town to global beer giant AB-InBev and they don’t skirt around the subject either. The conversation covers the significant plans in the works right now for the brewery as well as Jasper’s reflection on the sale at the time.

 

June 2015 - Jasper and I at Gordon Street Garage
June 2015 – I got to interview Jasper whilst he was in Perth

Wall Street Journal | Hopportunity Cost – Craft Brewers Brawl Over Catchy Names as Puns Run Dry

I do love a punny beer name, I’d hate to think we’re running out of them.

Vogue | How to Pair Beer and Food Like a Pro: Tips from the Coolest Independent Craft Brewers

I am not really a Vogue reading kinda girl but I do tend to Google “craft beer” and “news” and this came up. Craft beer and food pairing in Vogue.

ABC News | Craft beer boom brews expansion for Australian hop farmers in Tasmania, Victoria

Great to get some insight into the knock on effort of craft beer continuing to grow and hop farms needing to expand too! Always exciting to see what new varieties appear. I was recently listening to an American beer podcast and Australian hop varieties were mentioned quite often by big international craft brewers. There’s no doubt, we are growing some great stuff!

Trey at Karridale Hop Farm
Trey from Karridale Cottages and Hop Farm inspecting some Cascade hops

Chatting with Jasper, Camden Town Brewery // Part 4

The final part of my interview with Jasper from Camden Town Brewery, London, when he was in Perth in May.

Jasper of Camden Town Brewery (London) was in Perth at the end of May talking beer and enjoying the sunshine. I was lucky enough to get the chance to interview Jasper over a coffee and some breakfast.

We chatted for over an hour about how Camden came to be in Australia, the craft beer scene in the UK compared to here, the need for a definition on craft beer, the formation of a new association for British craft brewers – United Craft Brewers, Camden’s sour program and the new brewery Camden are building. In short, we talked a lot about some really cool stuff.

Read: Part One, Part Two and Part Three

Big thanks to Sarah from Memorable Drinks and Jasper from Camden Town Brewery for letting me conduct this interview on such short notice and with such a tight schedule, much appreciated.

Jasper and I at Gordon Street Garage

Here’s the fourth and final instalment, I hope you enjoy reading it as much I have enjoyed writing it!

If you were to start your brewery today, would you do anything different?

“That’s a great question,” Jasper said and after a long pause exclaimed “Loads!” and laughed.

“I would have bought a bigger brewery.”

As far as the beers go, Jasper wouldn’t change a thing. The range is exactly what they set out to do. “We are a dedicated lager brewer and proud to be,” Jasper said.

So other than a bigger brewery, what else would Jasper do a little differently? Hire more staff of course, “we were probably a little short on people.”

How will craft beer grow?

Beer consumption in Australia is declining but craft beer continues to grow, it has been said time and time again.

[Read: Business Insider – Craft beer consumption in Australia has passed a big milestone]

So what can the craft beer industry do to keep this growth going?

To Jasper the growth of craft beer will continue, it’s our job to nurture it.

“It can’t get bigger without great people.”

Craft breweries need to continue to emphasis quality and longevity, prove that craft beer isn’t a fad or a faze, it’s here to stay. On top of this the industry needs to make sure drinkers understand what is meant by “quality”. As a word that is thrown around a lot in many industries, it’s important the words stand for something.

“There’s a reason why the big brewers of the world are big. Their beers might be boring but they make good beer, consistently and quality, and it might not be for you and might not be your style or flavour but you can never criticise them on quality. For us to grow as a category everyone needs to pull their socks up, us included.”


 

And that’s it folks!

Endless thanks to Jasper and Sarah, from Memorable Drinks, for spending brunch with me and my constant questions. I loved talking beer with you guys!!

Chatting with Jasper, Camden Town Brewery // Part 2

I had the pleasure of interviewing Jasper from Camden Town Brewery, London, when he was in Perth in May

As you have probably gathered from the title of this post, there is a part one, if you’re looking for it you can find it here.

Jasper of Camden Town Brewery (London) was recently in Perth talking beer and enjoying the sunshine. I was lucky enough to get the chance to interview Jasper over a coffee and some breakfast.

We chatted for over an hour about how Camden came to be in Australia, the craft beer scene in the UK compared to here, the need for a definition on craft beer, the formation of a new association for British craft brewers – United Craft Brewers, Camden’s sour program and the new brewery Camden are building. In short, we talked a lot about some really cool stuff.

Big thanks to Sarah from Memorable Drinks and Jasper from Camden Town Brewery for letting me conduct this interview on such short notice and with such a tight schedule, much appreciated.

Jasper and I at Gordon Street Garage

Jasper and I at Gordon St Garage, thanks to Sarah (Memorable Drinks) for the photo

Here we go with Part Two …

why Gentlemen’s Wit …

I wasn’t aware that Gentlemen’s Wit is open fermented nor did I know the inspiration behind the beer, especially given Camden are mostly a lager brewery.

Inspiration for Gentlemen’s Wit came from a dark hefeweizen brewed by the Alios Unertl of Unertl Brewery in Germany. Jasper had met Alios whilst in Germany,

“I went to his brewery and he’s got a 50 thousand hectalitre brewery in his house, literally it’s in his house. You walk through his stairs and the 40 hectalitre mash tun has a dishwasher on one side and washing machine on the other side,” Jasper described.

“He is the most awesome man and massively inspirational to me as a brewer.”

The brewery is named after the family and on their first meeting Alios told Jasper his father’s story.

Alios’s father had been a prisoner of war, he was going to be killed by the Russians but was saved by the British military. “When I met him he told me the story of his dad but how he had never been to England but without England he wouldn’t be alive,” Jasper said. “When you build your brewery I will come,” Alios had said to Jasper and the week Camden Town Brewery was commissioned Alios visited the brewery as promised.

“He came to the brewery and he brewed his hefeweizen with me. He bought his yeast strain and everything, it was amazing.”

Jasper went on to describe the open fermenters he had seen in Bavaria. “Traditionally if you go to Bavaria all Hefeweizens are always open fermented,” he said.  He recalled the huge tanks, the way the yeast poured over the side into buckets underneath the tanks for collection and reuse to the next fermentation tanks. “It’s an evolutionary cycle,” he said. “Normally you go to a German brewery and the open fermenters are in a room so they are controlled and you don’t get airborne bacteria. Well ours isn’t.”

“We had one that got infected so we took the infected Wit and put it into barrels and that’s how we had our first sour,” Jasper said. “So we don’t introduce any yeast strains to it, just wild and it tasted awesome so that was where we started.”

The Standard - Camden Gentlemen's Wit

Enjoying a Camden Gentlemen’s Wit at The Standard earlier this year

a small sour program …

The words “we have a sour program” uttered by any brewer right now will make all beer geeks more excited than when double IPA’s started to emerge.

“You can get a lot of flavour in a beer that doesn’t have a lot of alcohol, that’s one thing I like about sours.”

Though it was the infection of some Gentlemen’s Wit that sparked Camden’s sour program, it was probably inevitable. “There was a desire from the brewers who wanted to do it and a desire from me wanting to drink it,” Jasper said.

So there are currently 30 barrels of infected Gentlemen’s Wit at Camden Town Brewery and, should all go well, they’ll be hand bottled and ready for release about April/May 2016. We might even see some in Australia.


Part Three of my interview with Jasper will cover our chat about the definition of craft beer and the formation of the UK’s new association – United Craft Brewers.

 

Chatting with Jasper, Camden Town Brewery // Part 1

I had the pleasure of interviewing Jasper from Camden Town Brewery, London, when he was in Perth in May

You’ve probably seen some of Camden Town Brewery beers around Perth; as the name implies they are a long way from their London home. The beers are distributed here in Perth and Melbourne by Memorable Drinks who are also the lovely folk who bring you Sipsmith and Hippocampus.

Camden Town Brewery

Camden Town beers at Mane Car Park event during WA Beer Week, Nov 2014

Camden Town Brewery was started by Jasper Cuppaidge in 2010. He brewed his beer in the basement of the first pub he owned, The Horseshoe, and today Jasper has upwards of 70 staff and Camden beers pour from more than 600 taps around London. The Horseshoe remains in the Camden Town family and you can read about its recent little renovation here.

I got the chance to have breakfast and a chat with Jasper when he was in Perth at the end of May. I met up with Jasper and Memorable Drinks representative Sarah Blomkamp at Gordon Street Garage.

Jasper was at the start of a fairly whirlwind Australian visit which also included a few days in Melbourne and Brisbane, where he was born, before heading back to Camden.

We chatted for over an hour about how Camden came to be in Australia, the craft beer scene in the UK compared to here, the need for a definition on craft beer, the formation of a new association for British craft brewers – United Craft Brewers, Camden’s sour program and the new brewery Camden are building. In short, we talked a lot about some really cool stuff.

Jasper and I at Gordon Street Garage

Jasper and I at Gordon St Garage, thanks to Sarah (Memorable Drinks) for the photo

Jasper was extremely generous with his time and I really enjoyed listening back to the recording of our chat, this post is just PART ONE …

Big thanks to Sarah from Memorable Drinks and Jasper from Camden Town Brewery for letting me conduct this interview on such short notice and with such a tight schedule, much appreciated.

a new brewery …

There are currently two sites being looked at for a new Camden Town Brewery. The new brewery will bring everything Camden in house as there is currently a percentage of Camden Hells kegs which are brewed in Belgium.

“We are in Belgium a lot, maybe too much,” Jasper said. “It’s like having your children in boarding school.”

Of course it also means more beer from Camden and Jasper expects his staff to grow from 70-odd to about 120 people over the next 12 months. “Another 50 friends is always interesting,” he said with a smile.

why Australia …

Camden only exports to three other countries right now – Sweden, Japan and Australia which begs the question, why here?

Awareness of Camden itself was one reason. Jasper said that a lot of Aussies know Camden because they have travelled there so they felt it was beneficial that there was an existing awareness of at least where the beer came from.

The biggest reasons however were more personal. Jasper was born in Australia, Brisbane to be exact, and his brewing director Alex Tronosco was part of the original Little Creatures team in Fremantle. Alex had good contacts here in Australia and was keen to send beer back to Australia.

“Beer makes sense in Australia,” Jasper added. “Beer is part of the culture, it’s not something new and it’s kinda part of every day life.”

Currently Camden Town beers are in about 70-80 venues, bars and bottle shops in both Perth and Melbourne and it’s a number Jasper is happy with. Not just that but he’s happy with the types of bars and retail shops that Camden is in.

Camden has always been a bit selective about what venues they are in back home so the same applies in export markets. Back in the UK Camden beers can’t be found in chain outlets or venues that aren’t quite right. I asked Jasper about what sort of venue was a Camden venue –

“It’s the person who thinks about what they are doing,” he said. “Is it [the venue] food focused? Sometimes it is. Is it coffee focused? Sometimes it is. But it’s focused.”

Meaning whatever the venue is, whether it’s a bar or a bottle shop or a pub, it’s the sort of venue that’s puts importance not just on the food and drink but the lighting, the font on the menus, all aspects of the venue.

I must emphasis that he said all of this without the slightest bit of pretention or snobbish attitude. It’s not about excluding venues, it’s about Camden being part of venues who genuinely want them, where they are adding value, adding to the overall venue offering rather than being just another beer on the shelf.

“Camden has never been sold, if it has to be sold then we are in the wrong place,” Jasper commented.

If the manager has had to be convinced that the beer belongs in that bar then it’s chance for ending up in the customers hands are quite slim. If that manager wants the beer in the bar, that’s a different story, there will be a reason they want the beer. “We service, we don’t sell,” Jasper said of his brewery representatives. “We service the people who want it.”

what’s next for Australia …

For Jasper the priority is to ensure the continued support of the bars and shops currently ranging Camden beers.

Draught beer is also on the agenda with a modest aim of just 2-3 taps in each city, any more than that and Jasper would be inclined to put on more people.

“We don’t like our beer without people,” Jasper explained

“It’s not just a beer on a shelf, it’s gotta have the story, the support and it’s very difficult to sort things from London.”

The availability of draught Camden beers will depend entirely on finding the best way to send the beer so it’s in the best condition. Jasper has ruled out one way kegs because he doesn’t have enough faith in the quality of the beer when it gets to it’s destination. Then there is also the creation of extra rubbish in sending more plastic and paper one way. There is also a whole different tax system for Jasper to consider but Jasper is hopeful to have kegs in Australia in the next twelve months.


Part Two of my interview with Jasper will cover our chat about Camden’s sour program and the 30 barrels of Gentlemen’s Wit currently aging at Camden.

 

 

Why My Wife’s Bitter … and other Brewers & Chewers stories

A beer event that combines elements of a meet the brewer session with musical chairs and speed dating is destined to be sensational.

Brewers and Chewers Collage

A beer event that combines elements of a meet the brewer session with musical chairs and speed dating is destined to be sensational.

That’s exactly how the Brewers and Chewers event was described in the Good Beer Week programme and that’s exactly what we got – minus the potential awkwardness of speed dating and lack of seats at musical chairs of course.

Brewers and Chewers found a handful of Australian and International brewers and tempted them to The Local Taphouse in St Kilda for a dinner party with the twist.

Here’s how it worked – Eight brewers, eight tables and about twenty minutes on each table before the bell would sound and it was time for the brewer to move on.

The food was plentiful and delicious. The main of roast pork featured some heart stopping good cracking and social etiquette was the only thing stopping me from licking the plate clean from the beet cured ocean trout.

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The beers, as you’d expect, were all stunning. Each brewer had one of their beers represented and the taps flowed freely. Picking a favourite would be like choosing your favourite child … but since I don’t have any I guess it should be easier. I’m going to go with Bright Brewery’s Fainters Dubbel – it still stands out in my mind and after nine days of Good Beer Week, that means I really, really liked it.

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It was a fantastic event with great food, tasty beers and magnificent company. What made the evening a complete stand out was all this combined with excellent service from the staff at the Local Taphouse and having Pete Mitcham aka Professor Pilsner to host proceedings.

“In no particular order but starting with number one …”, Pete Mitcham

On stage Pete got the event started by introducing each brewer with a few words and a round of applause before they were sacrificed/seated at their first table.

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The story of the beer from Camden that almost didn’t make it

Jasper Cuppaidge – Camden Town Brewing (UK)

“We love lager!”, Jasper told our table so it’s not surprising he chose his Camden Town USA Hells Lager to bring along to Brewers and Chewers. The USA Hells Lager had lovely citrus, cereal and apricot notes and light stone fruit flavours and is an American hopped version of their regular Hells Lager.

But the beer nearly didn’t make the journey from UK to Melbourne and at the last minute Jasper was left with little option but to put the beer on a plane. Jasper joked, “it cost more to get the beers here than it did me!”.

Jasper also chatted about what’s coming up soon for Camden Town including plans to go to cans and a twice yearly keg swap with Stone & Wood (Byron Bay, Australia). Exciting!

The story of how Eric was destined to become a brewer          

Eric Ottaway – Brooklyn Brewery (USA)

Eric said that for him it’s all about good beer and friends, he was clearly in good company at Brewers and Chewers.

I asked Eric how he got into brewing, “do you believe in fate?” he asked in reply. Eric was in health care before he began as a brewer and has since discovered that his great, great, great, great, great uncle had links to a hop farm in Brooklyn. It seems Eric may have been destined to brew great beer for us!

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The story of why My Wife’s Bitter

Brennan Fielding – Burleigh Brewing (QLD)

Burleigh Brewing make a beer called ‘My Wife’s Bitter’. It begs the question, why? It’s an obvious question and one that Brennan seems to be asked frequently. I asked him at our table and then later the host, Pete Mitcham, asked him to tell the story for the crowd.

“How many nights did you sleep on the couch?”, Pete asked Brennan.

“You guys have it all wrong”. Here’s the story.

It was actually Peta’s, Brennan’s wife, idea to name the beer. Whilst in Hawaii Brennan made beer and named one after their daughter and another after their son. “Why don’t I have a beer named after me?” Peta asked Brennan. There was no reason, the right beer just hadn’t come up yet. Then one day, whilst hanging out the washing, Peta had a lightbulb moment. “My beer’s name is My Wife’s Bitter”, she exclaimed, as in a bitter beer for her not a statement about her. However Brennan didn’t feel the meaning would translate in Hawaii where there’s no English heritage for the traditional English style. “Hold on to that name”, he told her.

At Burleigh Brewing the beer started life as a special release beer and now is part of their regular line up, so Brennan made an English Bitter as a gift for his wife.

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The story of many, many new beers        

Jos Ruffel – Garage Project (NZ)

I had to ask about the Garage Project their 24/24 concept – 24 new beers in 24 weeks – I had to ask “why?”

“The more you brew the better you get” Jos remarked and after brewing 40 new beers in their first year of operation he would know what he’s talking about. Initially gaining brewing inspiration from chefs and restaurants in what ingredients they use and how they use it, they now have their own library of ingredients. The brewery itself has transformed into it’s own source inspiration. With this in mind, check out their GABS beer – Death from Above.

The story of beer battles in Italy        

Leo DiVincenzo – Birra Del Borgo (Italy)

I only know two things about beers in Italy,

1. Moretti

2. Birra Del Borgo’s Duchessic is one of the best beers I’ve ever had.

The Italian craft beer scene is clearly very healthy; Leo estimates there are more than 500 craft brewers – “we are all fighting against Peroni, Moretti and Heineken”.

With so many craft brewers in a country known for it’s wine I couldn’t help but find some similarities between Italy and Margaret River. Given a recent article that threw up the idea that breweries in the south west were harming the reputation of the Margaret River wine region, I asked if there was any competition between craft brewers and wineries.  The answer was simply no. A sentiment that I am confident is shared by the vast majority of the south west but I was interested to ask.

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The story of Scott’s first ever barley wine

Scott Brandon – Bright Brewery (VIC)

We talked about the Great Australiasian Beer SpecTAPular and his entry into the festival – the Supermucilaginisticepialidocious. Not only is it a mouth full but it’s a barley wine. They went for this style because he had never brewed one before which begged the question, “how is it?”, we asked.

“It’s awesome”, he replied.

I had the Bright Fainters Dubbel with dessert and it was an amazing match. The dessert of honeycomb ice cream, chocolate stout brownie and butterscotch sauce was chewy and decedant, nutty and sweet. The dubbel’s richness, raisins and spice was a perfect compliment.

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All brewers were fantastic company, each time the bell rang it was much too soon. Other brewers who I haven’t mentioned yet are Tim Thomas from Hop Dog (NSW) and Ashur Hall from Illawarra Brewing Company (NSW) who were also excellent company but sadly my note taking wasn’t perfect.

Thanks to Steve, Guy, Ashley, Head Chef Paul and all the staff at The Local Taphouse for going to great lengths to ensure we all had a lovely night, never wanting for anything.

Thanks to Pete Mitcham for being the host with the most, it was great to meet you and I hope to cross paths again with you soon, preferably where there’s beer of course.

And of course thank you to the Tim, Scott, Ashur, Jasper, Leo, Jos, Brennan and Eric, it was a genuine pleasure to meet all of you. So long and thank you for all the beer.