Sean Dissington || February 23rd
Culture, a slightly sour taste with a hint of spice.
Culture is what we do, what we connect with and what we are passionate about - and there's a lot of passion in our city. One aspect of this is around craft beer, the making and enjoyment of beer because of a passion about understanding the work that goes into making a beer. Much like wine, or coffee or any product that's naturally derived beers are subject to infinite variation. The soil, the hops, the weather - whether it is served from a tap or can can all introduce subtle nuances of flavour. As a whiskey drinker, I know almost nothing about beer.
I visited Bottlecraft last year for the first time on their second birthday party at the end of the May bank holiday and instantly fell in love. Where some bars and pubs offer a few beers and a lack of engagement with their customers Bottlecraft have over 300 beers and can talk to you about each one. Like sour flavours with a finish of raspberry? Sorted. Prefer a milk stout that has hints of strawberry ice-cream? It's on the shelf. But again it's the passion that has helped make their business, after all, Tesco sell many of the same lines but don't offer the same support to their customers. (If you want a laugh, pop in to a supermarket and ask for a beer with a coniferous finish, record the conversation if you want to be extra cruel). It's this passion and knowledge for their product that has helped Tom, Chris and Richard grow their business to the point where their next venture opens on Piccadilly in early summer.
Tom Rushton is extra passionate about beer, he loves it so much that he wants to make his own - even more so, he wants to help other people learn about beer making. He wants to create a community of people who know beers, who love the infinite flavour variations that come from tweaking the process and ingredients. To this end he has created the Potteries Home Brewing Club, a group of passionate and curious folks who share Tom's appreciation of beers and want to join him on his brewing journey. They met for the first time on Monday night at the Hop Water Cellar in Newcastle and the evening was certainly a success - the attendees discussed brewing methods as well as sampled four home brews that we brought, one stout, two IPAs and a marvellous pumpkin sour. Contrary to what I thought there was no hipster talk, no boastful use of arcane terms - but genuine friendliness and a sense of community.
I have never had a desire to brew my own beer, much preferring that the people who are best at it to do that, in keeping with my philosophy that people should really stick to what they are best at, but even I was inspired. Who knows,one day there may be a quinoa sour with my name on it, until then I'll follow the adventures of the Potteries Home Brew Club with interest.
If you'd like to know more you can call in to Bottlecraft to ask Tom or take a look on the Facebook group @potterieshomebrewclub. The club meet in the Hopwater and at Bottlecraft - check out the Facebook group for the date of the next meet.