Monday, 21 January 2013

In a League of its Own

I quite like Rugby. At school I somehow got on with it better than the other game the boys liked to play. I think it was something to do with the fact I didn't get stuck in defence when we played Rugby in PE. I could join in a lot better and despite being a small kid, seemed to hold my own. I guess mainly I ducked between legs and then grabbed at ankles of the big boys, who seemed to fall easily.

Despite this, I have never quite got to grips with the difference between League and Union. Both are played around these parts, with determination it would seem. Not only does the risk of physical injury seem to be no deterrent to enthusiasm, it is apparent this is part of the attraction. Well, that and the excuse for a few well earned pints on a Saturday once the match has been played, the mud washed off and various scrapes bandaged up and sprains suitably supported.

There has been a Rugby club in Millom for 140 years. Both the Union and League versions of the game lay claim to being the first club back in that year, 1873.  I refuse to get drawn into the arguments about these facts, other than to say that according to my research neither Union nor League existed back then. It was just the game of Rugby.

Never-the-less, the Millom Rugby League Club, widely acknowledged as the oldest in the world, asked us to make a beer for their 140th year. Of course, why not?

But, what I wanted to do was make a beer that they all loved, or at least all the ones that will have a go at something different. I know our beers are all a bit well hopped and generally are a bit more colour than is the fashion. It's all very well trying to make contemporary craft beer that appeals to a niche and might get above average scores on Ratebeer, but once in a while it's nice to get the local people to understand we can also make stuff they like, should we put our mind to it.

So, we brewed a beer. A blonde beer because we thought that might go down quite well. No dry hops, fairly low bitterness and just a sprinkling of new world hops to give it that certain zing. Last Friday we put a firkin in the club and they served it at The Challenge Cup Draw.

I had two pints. I'd have preferred two pints of Azimuth. Failing that three pints of Continuum. Still, on making my way to the bar for the third, just after eating my pie and peas, at around 7:30pm, one drinker said "Best pint I've tried for a while there Dave, but you needn't bother going for another" I was baffled, did he somehow think I'd had too much? "It's all gone, you should'a brought another firk lad"

Well, it might not win any praise on Ratebeer, but it sure hit the spot with the rugby fans. Good show, beer to specification, job done. The beer had been on the bar for less than 2 hours. It's not a big club.

There are a few more firkins. I'm not sure Millom will get through them all in the next couple of weeks. Anyone know a rugby club that wants to buy some beer?


Cooking Lager said...

I enjoyed the following book on rugby

which explains well why there are 2 codes. Its not worth £30 though. Mine cost a fiver.

As for making beer for rugger buggers. They are only going to drop there trousers and pour it down each others arses so why bother? Rebadge any old pisswater and flog it on at a mark up.

Velky Al said...

"Well, it might not win any praise on Ratebeer, but it sure hit the spot with the rugby fans."

Sounds like the kind of beer the world would need more of in that case!

Really, some of the drivel that gets posted on RateBeer is uninformed, 'hop de jour', fan boy crap.

Dave Bailey said...

Cookie, to be honest, I'm quite happy to remain reasonably ignorant about the precise rules of rugby. I occasionally find myself enjoying seeing other people playing it, but I really don't want to get drawn into being a rugby bore.

As for what the rugger peeps do with my beer, that's their concern. If they buy it, it theirs to do with as they wish. Pour it into their bath for all I care and give their pubes a beer shampoo if that's what they like.

Al, RateBeer is just part of the multifaceted beer world. Opinions about beer are so varied as to be sure that no one is right or wrong. It is certain that the beers that score highly on there are of narrow appeal. It is easy to accuse the contributors of being overenthusiastic enthusiasts.

I like the fact there are people like that, it makes the world interesting. Indeed, to some extent my business needs these people. Making quaffable beer is certainly a good part of our business, but making beer that floats the geeks' boats also helps get our name out there.

It's all part of the great beery mix.

Velky Al said...


I am a member of RateBeer myself, though not as prolific as some people I know - largely because I gave up taking notes about beer in a pub a while back when the wife said it was more rude than answering text messages when out with friends.

The point I was trying to make, though somewhat hamfistedly, is that I can think of no higher praise for your beer than it selling out by half 7 at night (I assume it only went on the same day?).

Naturally I await the day your bottles come to this side of the Atlantic....

Brewers Union Local 180 said...

Sounds like I would've dropped a tenner on the stuff. Shame that I can't find anything like it up here in Portland - it's all strong fizzy kraft keg.