Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Hop Breeding

Part 2 of my hop series.

I don't care too much for British hops. There, I've said it. I know making such a statement tends to offend some of the die hard trad. fans. The truth of the matter is that to create the beers we want to make, British hops so far just haven't got what it takes to make the grade. The bigger family and regional brewers tend to use British Hops for their mainstream beers. If we did the same, we'd be pushing out beers that were the same, why would we want to do that?

Faram's breading program planted
5,000 seedlings in 2015
each one a new variety cross
On a personal level this upsets me quite a bit. If British Hop growers could manage to grow hops that do the same thing as the massive aroma of American hops, I'd not only be happy to buy them, I'd positively go out of my way to do so. The hospitality we have received at Stocks farm, for instance, puts that big bit of guilt into my head for my reluctance to use British hops. There are some really great people in the British Hop farming industry, they deserve success. I hold out an optimistic hope that they'll produce something really great.

We do have to remember that the hop growing industry in the UK is very much smaller than USA. I haven't got exact figures for the UK, but believe we have around 1,000 hectares of hop yards. In The States they have over 18,000 hectares1. There is a little more financial backing for development of unique, innovative and really stunning hop varieties. This has resulted in varieties like Citra and Simcoe, loved universally by craft beer brewers the world over. Even some of the more "established" new world hops are barely more than a couple of decades old. Cascade, on my brief research the oldest of what we'd consider "craft", was not released until 1972.

Is this the reason the British hop growers struggle to wow us? I think development of new hop varieties is part of the problem. I am lead to understand that there has been no government money put into UK hop breading for over 10 years, and yet EU money is provided for Eastern European hop growers, so my contacts tell me.

Verticillium Wilt
But I worry that terroir has a huge amount to do with it. It may just be possible the the UK climate, that fantastic "maritime" weather will always limit any success to strive towards what New World growers can achieve.

Never-the-less, I want British growers to continue to try. Charles Faram have a breading program, thank goodness, so there is hope.

Hop breeding focuses on one really important requirement - disease resistance. It seems that hops are really quite susceptible to disease. Powdery mildew, downey mildew, verticillium wilt etc are problems. There is no point growing a stunning new hop variety only to find that it is nearly impossible to grow without infestations. I wonder if it is inevitable that a variety that is resistant enough to the British weather will always tend to be more subtle in characteristics.

The problem is, breeding programs take anything up to 10 years to get a new variety from first cross breeding to selection of full commercial crop. Selection of promising cultivars have to go through disease assessment as well as aroma selection. Brewing trials at some point are necessary and if this is done in series, i.e. only after a variety has shown to be resistant, it can draw out the whole process.

Jester - one of the successes
Charles Faram have broken the rules somewhat compared to standard commercial programs. They can do this because they work with the growers sharing risks, and ultimately rewards. They instigate small scale commercial trials long before full disease resistance has been ascertained.

One result is the Jester strain, which seems to have achieved some success, with the down side that it is hermaphrodite; it produces both male and female flowers, only the females are any good for brewing. The proportions of male to female seems to depend on weather during the season.

This radical program can bring a new variety to commercial crop only 6 years after initial variety crosses have been made. There are some 20 or so named varieties due to go into brewing trials either this coming year or next. Many of these varieties have yet to fully pass wilt tests, so there are still some risks, but some of them have fantastic aroma descriptors, so I'm hopeful.

I do hope we eventually get great hop varieties in the UK. The trouble is, I just had a quick look on Ratebeer. I know I shouldn't, but  I did. One brewer who has done a large range of single hop beers, named to give the impression one particular style of beer was being killed off - you know the one. Look at the scores, tells a tale. Universally the American varieties are the ones that win.

Personally, with the bad news coming out of the overall northern hemisphere I think craft brewers need to reassess the mix of hops that go into beers. We are certainly doing that. Craft brewers of course are very happy to embrace any technology that is required to get the result we need. We're working on ideas that might just be able to achieve the same, and possibly even better results by judicious application of new techniques and ideas.

Thanks to Will Rogers for the fascinating talk at the Hop Seminar, and in advance for turning a blind eye to plagiarising his presentation. The pictures here are all stolen from the file kindly sent from Faram to my inbox.

Apologies to Faram, Stocks farm, Ali Caper and The British Hop Association for any errors, omissions or inaccuracies here. Some of the information was stored in my fallible grey matter and is liable to data corruption. Please put any corrections in the comments.


1Source: Paul Corbett's Power Point presentation from the hop seminar 2015 - exact figure given 18,307 estimated. Up from 15,382 in 2014 the increase driven by this so called craft beer revolution.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015


Part 1 in a series (possibly, if I can be bothered with the others)

Don't know variety, but they look nice.
"You know Dave, most people think the way you brew consistent beer is to do the same thing every time" said John Keeling, brewing director at Fullers "Marketing departments don't understand that" The comment was during a discussion we were having on one of my visits to his brewery in Chiswick. It is one of those specific things that has stuck in my mind.

That very general comment can be applied to many areas of brewing. Yeast management, grist formulation, fermentation control, but most specifically to hops.

Hops, they are very important to brewing. OK, it's possible to brew beer without them, but in reality very few beers that are brewed without hops have any sort of real commercial future. Us brewers depend upon them for our existence. Right about now there are hop farms all over the northern hemisphere harvesting hops, kilning them and sending them off to market.

A dwarf variety - easier to harvest but less yield
Scott and I went down to Worcestershire last week to take a look at a hop farm during harvest, Stocks farm to be precise, owned by Richard and Ali Capper. It is alleged that Richard is the tallest hop grower in the world, nevertheless, he still fails to be able to get to the top of the tall varieties without as ladder.

The event is well known by brewing types as the "Hop Walk" and is run by that well established and jolly nice purveyor of hops, Charles Faram. We buy most of our hops from these people, and they provide excellent service. If nothing else the Hop Walk is a great chance for a free feed, a catch up with brewing friends and a look around a somewhat picturesque farm close to The Malvern Hills. We are generally told some salient points regarding the hop harvest and the likely yields that might occur.

Faram's run a seminar the day before the hop walk giving some really useful insights into the hop industry. Peter Darby, who leads much of the development of new hop varieties in the UK, gave a fascinating talk on hop damage, and the impact of various effects that cause hops to turn brown. It seems that there is something of a misnomer that suggests that any hop cone that is not very green is somehow inferior. Peter fairly clearly states that often brown hops are not a problem, and on occasions can even be good.

Sorry, this image was "borrowed" from Wikipedia.
You see, put basically, the majority of the compounds we want are contained in the Lupulin Glands, which are protected by the bract. Provided these glands are not damaged, things are generally OK. If browning of the cone is due to senescence, it might actually be good as some beneficial compounds can develop as the cone ages. However, mostly this isn't allowed to happen as the cones become friable and difficult to harvest. Mostly browning on the outside is due to physical damage, hail, wind etc. That's all OK. Light is always1 bad for harvested hops, so if the cones have been left in the light after harvest they can quickly develop unpleasant flavours.

Evolution is a thing that fascinates me. I ponder from time to time the evolutionary purpose of things we humans use for our own end. Much plant matter we eat has nutrients and energy stored which has the original evolutionary purpose for the propagation that the species as an energy store for the next generation. Fruit is more complicated in that it's purpose is often as a temptation for animals to consume the fruit and spread the seeds further, often through excrement. But why on earth does the hop plant produce lupulin glands in it's flowers? The pungent and bitter flavours tend to repel if anything. Only the hardiest of creatures get into the hop cone, and then they pretty much spell disaster for the plant and subsequent growth on the same plot. They can't be a food store for baby hop plants.

I was pleased when one delegate to the conference asked Peter that very question. What is the biological reason for the lupulin gland? Apparently it is to protect the seed once it is shed from the plant. The gland protects physically and it's antibacterial properties, which helps preserve beer, also helps protect the hop seed from attack prior to germination.

We don't know what variety this is, either
The announcements of the hop harvest estimates are a major part of the hop seminar and hop walk days. A good bit of detail was given, and I'm still working my way through figures I've gleaned. The good news is that in response to the craft beer thing, most countries have increased the area of wirework2

However, what seems to be the case is that central Europe has been very badly hit by drought. Saaz hop variety for instance could be hit very badly indeed. Bad news if you rely on that for some sort on light lager style beer. Various other varieties from Germany, Czech Republic etc could be very hard hit.

So, that's OK for us, isn't it? We don't depend on that variety. For that matter we are not very dependant on much from central Europe. But hang on, what about any knock on effect? Clearly general hop shortages are going to impact across the board as substitutions are made.

Tall variety - more difficult to maintain but twice the yield
We think the rows on the left are first year
But it gets worse. It seems that although the American hop industry have increased wirework and planted out greater areas, they have not been immune from the impact of the well publicised droughts over the West Coast. We hear the aroma varieties like Centennial, Willamette and Simcoe are down significantly. Moreover, for those really fanatic about Simcoe, the yield per hectare year-on-year is said to be falling. What we are not sure is if this is due to old root stock or reduced disease resistance as a result of genetic mutation of the infestations. This does demonstrate the very important role hop breading programs, which I'll explain in another post.

I am told that as the harvest is coming in there are some surprises that makes it likely that things might not be quite so bad as we previously expected. When I was at the hop walk they were 10 days into the harvest. It's a week later already, so it's fast moving. None-the-less, I'm more than a little worried about our continued supply of economic hops. We are also told that due to significant investment in the American hop grows farms they are demanding higher prices for hops. We already spend an eye watering amount on hops.

Cool depth of field - but we don't know what these are either
I think it is essential for breweries to do two major things to overcome not only this years crop shortages, but variability of crops in future. The first and most important is to contract with a hop merchant. OK, that can be tricky if you are too small to reach the threshold required to be permitted to contract. However, Faram assure me that they will accommodate small volumes on a less formal basis to ensure breweries can source hops. It helps the hop merchant too, knowing what everyone is likely to use. The last two years we've been late at getting our commitment in, and this has caused us trouble. If you haven't got a contract in place for 2015 northern hemisphere hops you might be in trouble. Start working on your southern hemisphere contract now, would be my advice.

But the other major thing, in my mind, is to remain flexible with beer recipe formulation. Going back to John Keeling's point, even if you can get a solid supply of the hop you need, year after year, it's characteristics will vary depending on the growing conditions. Even on the farm, leaving the hop a day or two longer before harvest with some varieties can change the alpha acid and aroma oils significantly. Weather, machine malfunction and many other factors can influence the harvest, not forgetting human judgement.

See, told you it was picturesque
We are often asked about the hops that go into our beers. It's good that beer drinkers are interested. However, Azimuth for instance, currently has about 9 different varieties of hop due to our constant striving to improve the beer and also due to some shortages we have encountered.

We want to make absolutely stunning beer. We will do what it takes to make that stunning beer, and if that means changing the ratios of hops in a beer, or even substituting or augmenting varieties then we will do so, and regularly do.

I expect my next post will talk about the Charles Faram hop breading breeding program.


1Always? Well, that can't be true, they grow outdoors, where the sun shines. Sometimes even in the UK.  No, I can only assume a live hop plant constantly repairs damage caused by light on its hop cones.

2Hops grow on wires which are held up by a fairly simple post arrangement. I say simple, when you see the expanse of wirework even on a fairly small hop yard you can appreciate the work and investment that is put in by the farmer.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Signposting Craft

It's tricky for a beer drinker to know what is, and what is not craft beer. Everyone has their view on that, and there are some very definite non-craft people aiming to muddy the water, vis-a-vis Revisionist beers, which for sure fail to rise to the craft beer bar. It doesn't help my view of them when a representative tries to convince me they are a "gateway" to craft. I've heard that sort of rubbish before from big brand managers. If Marstons want to convince me that they are serious about craft then they need to stop trying to tell me that "small batch" is the sort of volume that I can only have dreams about selling. Whilst their estates don't buy from me, and are unlikely to any time soon, their soft soap rubbish is sure to only irritate, rather than pacify. Oh, and they could do with starting to use a few hops too.

Still, most brewers that I consider true craft don't supply supermarkets. We do, and we are absolutely tiny compared to most that do supply these big useful routes to market. This makes our beer a big deal in the aisles of Morrisons. What is really nice is that the people who plan the layout of the stores have decided that craft beer needs to be signposted. This is being rolled out across the stores nationwide, apparently.

Whether you think craft beer is a thing or not, it's certainly considered a thing by these supermarket people, and I'm not going to argue with that. Best of all, there is non of that Revisionist rubbish on show, although not at all sure how Crabbies is either craft or beer.

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Crazy Intergalacticness

This post has developed into a rant. You are best advised to avoid reading it and just watch this video. It's daft, I put quite a bit of work into it and despite the effort, I still wonder if it'll hit the spot. I love it if folks watch it, share it, and if you really want to, take the mickey.

The beer is called Intergalactic Space Hopper. It's 5.2% pale and hoppy as hell. We're launching it at Glasgow Craft Beer Rising and Grasmere Guzzler this weekend. Ann and I'll will be a Glasgow, Scott will be at Grasmere on Saturday.

And so, to the rant.

Promoting beer is an interesting job. It's certainly getting trickier to make oneself heard with so many breweries out there now. Makes me kind of frustrated when some people seem to feel that it isn't simply great the choice you beer drinkers have. The choice out there is fantastic, there is just a huge amount of cask beer everywhere now. Microbrewer keg beer is becoming much more popular than to be honest even I thought it'd become. Choosing just how bright or murky the beer you buy is all down to walking into the pub or craft beer bar you know and trust. If you want it cheap, go to Wetherspoons.

For the poor brewer it does mean putting in extra effort to get noticed. We know we don't always get it right, but we try, and it's pleasurable when we get noticed, there's no doubt about that. Sometimes the reasons for being noticed aren't exactly the way we planned, but getting noticed in an ever increasingly crowded marketplace is almost always a good thing, even if the attention gets a little uncomfortable.

We are releasing a beer this weekend. It's a good beer, stacked full of bright hop aromas and a good punch of complex hop flavours. I'd say stunning. Considering we've had some problems this year getting the hops we wanted, partly due to our own inability to accurately predict growth combined with administrative cock-ups both at Hardknott central and at hop merchants. It didn't help that some hop harvests were short last season.

Despite the brilliance of the beer, that just isn't good enough to generate sales all by itself. So, I do what I do to try and promote the Hardknott brand, and if I were honest I'd say it's getting tougher to get it right. When we started Hardknott it almost seemed all we had to do was write a few blog posts and everything would be alright. We were actually saying to people that we hadn't got enough beer. So, we took the risk and took out some fairly eye watering loans, by my modest standards anyway, and went for expansion.

We've made some mistakes, worked hard, put out some marketing projects, on next to no budget, and had some success.

"O wad some Pow’r the giftie gie us
To see oursels as others see us!"

Indeed, it is something I consider all the time. How is Hardknott perceived? How am I perceived? We work very hard, make a meagre living out of beer. I imagine much like most people in the beer industry we are driven by a passion1 for beer. I do wonder just how much the diversity of beer out there is so great because a huge number of people are working very hard for very little financial return. Yes, some breweries are doing fantastically well. We're stuck just a little bit far away from the metropolises to make it quite as well, but we do OK, partly because I refuse to wind my neck in, and give an outward impression of having limited self awareness.2. The reality is, as Jeffrey Bell is well aware, I consider frequently how both myself and my business are perceived.

So, if I were honest, I'm not entirely happy with the video I post here. I've put a huge number of hours into it. Learned a lot about animation and syncing it with music. I had some fun trying to get the right feel to the sound track. I am sure it'll get some people going WTF? Whatever, it's here, and so is the beer. Go ahead, talk about me, I'll cry into my beer tonight, but so long as it gets the Hardknott name out there, on balance I'll feel good about it.


1There you go, an example of a word that we become afraid to use, because it has to some extent become a cliche. But I believe there are many people, working their fuckingi socks off to make fantastic beer, driven not by greed, or sinister capitalist intentions, but by passion. Let us say that we do exactly that, eh? without taking the god damn piss.

2Stonch has returned! I give himii two links to his blog in this post. That should please him. But then, despite his reasonably successful attempts to wind me up, his blog has given me good mention this last few weeks, so I can't, in reality, complain.iii

iYup, that's out of character for this blog. But, right now, after going to bed at 4am to get this video finished, and now being up with fire in my belly, determined to get the beer to Glasgow, I feel it's justified.

iiOr should it be them? Seems there are four of them contributing now. Geez, that makes it all the harder for me to keep up with blogging too.....

iiiYup, you are right, in a way I'm complaining. But whatever. What leaves me slightly confused is what on earth Mr Bell is actually playing at. His comments seem directed at suggesting I should stop doing what I do. My persona, and that of my brewery are organic and from the heart. We're still an incredibly an incredibly small brewery and to be honest I absolutely have no intention of winding my neck in. To stay afloat in this new and incredibly busy craft beer scene we simply have to work hard with limited resources. So stick that in your pipe Stonch.


I quite like the music for this, although it could do with a fair bit of mastering to get it better. Time, you know. Anyhow, some of the complexities of the piece are lost due dipping it to hear voice overs and the like. If you if you are daft enough to want to hear it unadulterated and with the sound synced animation too, it's here. Ann say's I should issue a epilepsy warning as the animation is quite flashy light by itself.

Intergalactic Space Hopper just the music and sound to motion stuff. from Hardknott Brewery on Vimeo.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Cheese making

Starter culture added.
Careful temperature control
needed from this point
So, beer 'n' cheese. It's fab. I love cheese nearly as much as beer, or perhaps if I were pushed on the subject it'd be difficult to choose.

Anyhow, the other day I had this daft idea that I'd have a bash at making some cheese. You folks might while your Saturdays away making home-brew beer. As I mess with that sort of stuff during the week, I thought I'd have a bash at some food to go with the beer. Anyway, milk is cheap these days, didn't you know?

Curds and whey
So I bought a cheese making kit from some on-line place. It came with a press, rennet, starter containing relevant bacteria, cheese cloth and some other necessary goodies. Just add a big pan and some milk and you're away.

Now, interesting trouble occurred; good hard cheese needs full cream non-homogenised milk1. After a trip last night though to the metropolis that goes by the name of Barrow-in-Furness, and a hurried visit to Pizza Hut2 to pacify my not-so-little kids and Ann, we traipsed around the supermarkets. We found, amongst the oceans of ridiculously low-cost milk, 7 litres of Jersey Gold Top in Tesco. Asda? Nada. Morrison's? Not open late. I was looking for 10 litres. Turns out this type of milk is a quid a litre or more3 and not so easy to get on a Friday night.

Starting to look OK
Anyhow, today I set to at my very first attempt. A cheddar clone, nothing exciting, but it's a start. That 7 litres did quite well, and probably will make best part of 1kg of cheese, once it is properly pressed and matured. Only a month to wait, but already I'm planning my next experiment.

Break up to salt
Beer-washed cheese anyone?

Anyhow, not much of a beer-related post, but it was fun, I hope someone finds this interesting. If nowt else, it's an excuse for me to collate the pictures somewhere sensible.


Adding curds to mould for pressing
1Most milk these days is homogenised, and so the cream is distributed throughout the milk rather than floating on top, like it used to in the olden-days. Today they squirt it through tiny holes, as best I can work out, to make the fat globules smaller and the milk take on a more "creamy" texture. So, most milk in supermarkets is homogenised, and what smooth-flow is to beer I guess.

2Sorry, yes I know, I feel ashamed.

Not much left for me to do
3We do have a source of unpasteurised milk, which will make just the best cheese ever. However, I wanted to eliminate the uncertainty of farm or animal spoilage organisms before progressing to that stage. If this experiment works, I'll have a bash with the raw stuff.

I lived on a farm for a couple of years when I first left my parents tender care. We got unpasteurised milk fresh every day. It was delicious, really delicious. Just like sneaking a beer from the tank at the brewery, there is something really special about milk that has travelled only a few yards and had no messing done to it.

I do have a deep suspicion that the reasons for pasteurisation are much more to do with shelf life and commercial pressures than any real health risks. Never did me any harm. Some French cheese is made from unpasteurised milk and is simply gorgeous. I'm hoping to get to make something similar sometime.

Friday, 21 August 2015

Craft Beer Rising Glasgow - Intergalactic Space Hopper

Who remembers space hoppers? I do, first time around. I was about 5, and back then a bouncy rubber ball with a couple of handles where just the thing for a family who couldn't afford a chopper bike for Christmas. I have fond memories of bouncing around on such daft things.

It's been a while since we've been to a good craft beer festival with a new beer. We thought we'd bounce along to the Glasgow version of Craft Beer Rising this year, and decided it would be a wheeze to try out a new recipe. Scott is getting quite good at formulating stuff all by himself, with only a cursory glance at the recipe from me. I wanted to see just how much space-age hugeness we could get into the beer. So, he set about a hop loading that was almost entirely at the end of the boil, after flame out and in dry hopping. The aroma is big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is.

The beer will be released Friday 4th September at the first session of Craft Beer Rising Glasgow and simultaneously that day available from our webshop. If you are a pub, or distributor and want to get an advanced order, give us a call and ask for Ann.

This is an unusual announcement for us, as the beer isn't quite ready yet. I'm ordinarily uneasy about saying too much regarding a beer before it is ready to go. However, you guys need plenty of notice so you can get your tickets and try the stuff.

Just in case you can't get to Glasgow, we've also got some going to Grasmere Gussler at Tweedies bar, along with a fair selection of other Hardknott beers. This event occurs the same weekend as Craft Beer Rising.

Just a warning though, there is a chance that I'll get around to making some sort of daft video to go with the release. It might involve real, retro space hoppers, but I've yet to decide.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Pondering the Pub Thing Again

You know I love pubs. You don't? Look, I even owned one for a while, that's how much I love them. Owning a pub, it turns out, isn't always quite as much of a love thing as just going to one on a Saturday night, getting a bit tipsy and making slightly knob-head innuendo flirty jokes at the nice lady bar staff. Which is fun, until you get home, sleep it off, and get next day it gets pointed out by your partner, who of course was there too, that actually, you really are a knob-head. You remember through the haze of the hangover that actually, yes, you realise now, and for a few hours vow to never drink again. Or at least not quite so much. At least until next week at any rate.

The problem is, when you own a pub, and that drunken knob-head is in fact making irritating flirty jokey innuendo at your partner, you realise that actually drunk people, when you are not drunk, are very much not funny at all. But still, they are part of the territory, and you have to remain calm, as a person of responsibility, when you are the pub owner, and the person who might have to be up in the docks should anything turn nasty. Trying to square some of these circles was the reason I started writing this blog in the first place. Ultimately the stresses made us decide to leave the pub, before it got the better of us, although arguably, it already had.

I'm really going quite far off the track with this opening, but it is relevant background I think. And just to point out, we are just over a year into having our own licence on-trade outlet again1, on Millom Station. You might have heard of it, it's called Hardknott OnTrack. We like it. We'd like it to be busier, and open more often, but it serves it's main purpose, which is to ensure there is somewhere in my town we can get Hardknott Beer served the way I want it. Due to the way I have it staffed, I'm normally only found in there sober when it's closed, generally fixing something. Any other time I'm found in there I'm a drunken dick-head. The arrangement seems to work OK, most of the time.

I possibly didn't need to give you that "I think I know what I'm talking about" preamble to introduce the main theme of this post, but I think the wrapping around the subject helps to make more of what would otherwise be just a favour for someone.

Earlier in the week Frances Brace, a British Guild of Beer Writers member forwarded me some information about a pub in her village that was potentially never going to open again. Asking if I could raise awareness as the village is trying to raise enough money to buy the pub and run it as a collective. The pub is call The Duke of Marlborough in Somersham I'm only too pleased to try and help, although I'm not sure what mentioning it on my blog will do, but happy to do so.

It got me thinking, as oft times I do; If no one want's to buy and run this pub, then perhaps this is just a lost cause? Putting all your money into a pub, or even finding a bank that will help out, can be a bit daunting. Haven't you heard? Pubs are struggling, so why would anyone in their right mind want to fund such a daft idea. If you think I'm working against Frances' request, bear with me.

The trouble with owner-run pubs is that often you become too close, too passionate, too caring. Very often everything you've ever owned has been ploughed into the pub and it is the licensee's whole life, and complete existence. Couple that with long days, a need to unwind, and a pint or two at the end of the day and you can end up with an incendiary situation when dealing with the thing day-in, day-out.

Could pubs run by the community be the very thing? I used to think not. How on earth can a pub be run by committee? That's just daft.

But it does seem to be working. In Cumbria there is the Hesket Newmarket pub The Old Crown. This is reputed to be the country's very first community owned pub. Why does the model seem to work? Why should a pub that doesn't seem to thrive under private ownership seem to do OK when run under the guidance of a gathering of pub enthusiasts?

I feel I do understand a little. For a start, a pub has a large user base. People who own the pub, in a collective, are likely to want to use their asset. They are also providing a feed-back into the pool of ideas, but generally off-line, rather than as a drunken knob-head saying "''eresh mate, what syou wants to do ish..."

I've had some great ideas when I've been drunk. I've also had some really lousy ones. The trouble is, when you've had a long day, and trying to unwind, the last thing you want is some drunk trying to tell you how to run your business. Rather than being receptive to new ideas, the scenario tends to make me more determined to ignore them all, even the ones I shouldn't.

A committee of genuinely caring people, who love the pub, and can discuss collectively the ideas, hopefully whilst not too drunk, may generate a truly inspirational environment. In any case, so long as they keep the job ticking over, and the books balanced, whatever they do, they'll be maintaining the pub the way they want it to be.

Most importantly, if the pub is in the hands of the community, perhaps it is more loved. Despite the fact that most licensees work very long hours for precious little reward, very often annoyance is directed at the licensee for "ripping off" the beer drinker. At least in the case of a pub run by the villagers, and other interested parties, the price of the pint is at least going back into the village asset with full transparency of the economics involved. The pub goer is empowered and given a little bit of control, and everyone is happy.


1It is now over 5 years since we sold our first pub. It is interesting that many people are unaware that we are no longer there. Indeed, we recently decided to stop supplying that pub with any beer at all, hence no mention of the pub's name in this text.