Monday 8 November 2010

Kelly Ryan - his part in my craft beer revolution

Here I am, late to the party. I'd forgotten that today was the day I was supposed to post about Kelly leaving Thornbridge and the UK. But then, I'd also forgotten that we had 40 sacks of malt being delivered. There was no one at the brewery to accept the malt and we had to hurriedly arrange for another Cumbrian brewery, 25 miles away, to take receipt of the tonne load which I have just popped around to pick up. These two calendar items bombed my inbox at around noon today whilst we were in Sheffield, of all places, delivering and picking up beer.

Around a year ago I was at the British Guild of Beer Writers Barley Wine Seminar, which was at Thornbridge hall. This was my first introduction to Sheffield; we met at Sheffield station and returned to the city later for a pub crawl cultural exploration of the various delightful hostelries. The seminar was directly responsible for inspiring me to brew Granite and indirectly encouraged me further to explore the world of craft beer.

Of course we know that Thornbridge are a progressive brewery and their success is something to look up to. It would be nice to be able to attribute all of that success to the personality that most beer geeks know as the interactive contact at the brewery, but that would be unfair to the head brewer Stefano Cossi and the rest of the team at the brewery. However, Kelly is one of those superbly approachable, and perhaps slightly over gregarious brewers that are contributing to a growing all-inclusive community of beer enthusiasts. To say that Kelly is unique in this respect is clearly untrue; many very enthusiastic craft brewers are engaging online and in real-life social interaction, but Kelly has clearly been a key involvement in this.

I remember posting about my visit to Fullers Brewery. Pleased with the hard work I pressed the "PUBLISH POST" button and if I remember rightly went shopping; well, Christmas was coming. Whilst parking up in the ASDA car park my Blackberry buzzed with a Twitter direct message - it was Kelly very nicely pointing out a couple of errors in my post that could have been a little embarrassing should they have remained. On my return home I quickly corrected the errors and sighed relief.

Beer is a sociable drink, in all it's forms; be it a pint or be it a snifter of something stupid, it brings people together from all over the world. Kelly has been a part of enlarging the progressive community of new-age craft beer. He is often there at twissups, GBBF and guild seminars and he's going to be missed once he returns to Kiwi-land. As a key twitter user and blogger we have to apportion great credit to his part in helping the slow process of dissolving the parochial outlook that dogs the craft beer world.

Kelly has contributed to my increased interest in keg craft beer, canning beer and various other technical advances that could benefit beer. It's not all his fault, but part of the blame has to rest with his infectious enthusiasm.

And of course, I'm going to blame Kelly completely for the fact that my malt ended up in the wrong town today; without the friendliness of his DM correction nearly 12 months ago my life would be that little bit different such is my own theory of chaos in my life.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Cheers Dave :)

Have loved following your beer story, the challenges, the fun and the sheer hard work that involves been a brewer and running a brewery.

Like many others, you inspire me, your passion runs deep and above all, you make great beer!

Communication and education are key in the world of beer today. Some people boo-hoo that notion and think it's just a drink. Let them spend a month with the people who make it and devote their lives to creating the finest drop.

You're one of those guys and it's been amazing metting up with you and having lots of beer-related fun!

Looking forward to the next time,

All the best,