Change, that’s right change, and in the past week the greater London beer scene has seen a fair bit of change with two different businesses going into administration.
First The Beer Boutique, a small chain of three beer shops shut aprubtly. They had a couple of branches in London and one in Tunbridge Wells which I had visited a couple of times. At the time of writing there hasn’t been much said about why they closed but of course the usual suspects of high street rents and the challenges provided by the growth in online and supermarket beer availability might have a part to play.
The second, and much more of a shock, was the sudden closure of The BottleShop which was a London based beer wholesaler and bar operator. They were well known as being one of the best suppliers of interesting and unusual brews and their bar in Bermondsey was one of the top places in London for draught and packaged beer. A statement from founder Andrew Morgan mentions the loss of several key breweries distribution agreements as contributing to the downfall, just last week we saw that Omnipollo had changed UK distribution away from the BottleShop. Brewdog tabled an offer to save the business but the deal didn’t go through in the end. As always you feel for the employees who have lost their jobs and for any breweries who have supplied beer and could potentially not be paid for it.
So what do these closures mean for the wider industry? Well hard to know really, it could just be unfortunate for the two companies involved or is it a sign of a wider change in the market? Perhaps in the years to come when looking for a turning point in the industry we will trace back to Beavertown selling a minority stake (believed to be 49%) to Heineken? This saw them become widely available in major supermarkets and marked the point that one of the previously fiercely independent breweries went into partnership with a major brewer. This had a flow on for many independent wholesalers and beer shops who suddenly saw a consistent stream of revenue dry up virtually overnight.
Interesting times then and no doubt there will be more changes in the year ahead.
I have put myself on a can ban for this email. Lets get some bottles back into play and this trio does the job nicely.
Thornbridge / Brasserie De La Senne European Pale Ale 5%
Part of the Citizens of Everywhere beer project between UK and European breweries this pale pours a blonde colour with a slight haze and a gentle aroma which is partly floral and also to my mind had a slight ‘Belgian’ note to it, possibly my imagination was working overtime. Very easy drinking with a lingering bitterness it was extremely moreish and I could easily drink a pint or two of this, possibly with a bowl of popcorn while watching Meaningful Vote Three.
Dupont Bons Voeux 9.5%
From the makers of the benchmark Saison Bons Voeux retains a slight peppery and spicy note but also has the full body and sweet dryness of the triple. The carbonation levels are high as you would imagine and the bubbles help lift the flavours in your mouth. A lovely sipper which lives up to its name which translated means ‘Good Wishes’
Schneider Weisse Tap X Nelson Sauvin 7.3%
The bottle itself is a thing of beauty don’t you think? And rest assured so is the beer. Hopped with Nelson Sauvin the beer marries the clove and banana notes of a traditional Wheat with the crisp, gooseberry notes of the Nelson Sauvin. Drink now or cellar it for a special occasion, you won’t be disappointed.
PS I haven’t really banned myself from cans, especially considering that this week we have new arrivals from Loka Polly, Cloudwater, Brew By Numbers and Salopian.
Available Draught Beers
We are just about losing Faith and it is proving hard to beat a Beatnik so I expect keg beer changes over the weekend while Gun Brewery Extra Pale will be the cask starter for Friday.
Roosters Buckeye 3.5% (cask) Pale Session Ale
Gipsy Hill Beatnik 3.8% (keg) Hoppy Pale
Northern Monk Faith 5.4% (keg) Modern Pale
Gun Brewery Extra Pale 3.9% (cask) Extra Pale
Oakham Citra 4.2% (cask) Citra hopped Pale
Hawkshead Iti 3.5% (cask) NZ hopped light Bitter.
Dark Star West Coast IPA 5.9% (keg) Big Californian style IPA
Siren Undercurrent 4.5% (keg) Oatmeal Pale
Ruth and Mike