Wednesday 1 November 2017

Peat Souper

Every so often things happen that helps me realise that there are good people in the world. Business can be a nasty thing to have to do it would seem. Indeed, very often it feels like to succeed you simply have to be more ruthless than your competitor1. So when I received a nice email in early January, and I followed up with a phone call regarding collaborations that could well help us out, I knew that the year was going to turn out to be very interesting indeed. It was excellent timing as I was becoming very jaded of the whole industry really.

I was not wrong. This year has panned out very interestingly, and it's not over yet. The communications I refer to were from John Keeling, Director of Brewing and Global Ambassador at Fuller, Smith and Turner, the Chiswick based family brewing business. He claimed to have an idea for a great collaboration project and suggested he had some good news for me.

Ever since I met John at Sheffield station back in October 2009 I have found him to be a most generous, witty and friendly brewer. In contrast to some other beer industry leaders2 he has embraced the nurturing of a two-way street between the very smallest of breweries and Fullers. This does mean that although we may still have some differences of opinion on some things, I still have a huge respect for him and everyone at Fullers.

So, what was the great plan of John's? You probably all know by now, a mixed six pack of beers each a collaboration with the best craft breweries in the UK. John hand-picked the breweries and we were delighted to be invited to be part of the project.

The whole process was great fun, from recipe formulation, brewing the pilot beer, through to the label design it was a true collaborative effort. We learnt a lot too, which is one of the most significant advantages for us of taking part in collaborations. Even down to learning how to deal with the brand managers in larger organisations who simply don't get the difference is style between them and us. That's a whole story by itself3, but we eventually found a compromise that worked for everyone.

We are having a launch event in Birmingham next Wednesday (8th November 2017) at The Old Stock Joint, which is a Fullers pub. All six beers will be presented along with some special Hardknott beers.

If you have signed up to our Hardknott Crowd Rewards site then attending the event and making yourself known to us will get you 300 #HKBeerCoins. Further #HKBeerCoins are available for anyone helping us to promote the event.

If you've read this far well done, you deserve 50 HKBeerCoins just for that. Enter the token
P34tS0uper into the correct place on the site and they are yours!!

Oh, and of course there is a video of the brewday.


1Contrary to what some people like to claim, the beer industry is incredibly competitive. I am often encouraged to work together for common aims within the beer industry, and then get heavily shafted by the very people who I am asked to work with. We are not all friends, and make no mistake, big businesses worth many millions of pounds, with directors on healthy salaries are regularly pissing on my bonfire.

2In many quarters there are continual attacks on the sucesses of micro-brewers up and down the industry. Unfortunately I'm afraid there are moves to damage the very smallest of brewers, and the attacks are coming from some surprising areas, which is worrying me intensely.

3Our beer wasn't named until we actually had the beer in the FV. I wanted to call it The Big Smoke, but apparently that name had already been taken. We came up with various alternatives, all of which got kicked out by the trademark experts. All the names that the Fullers people came up with as safe names we thought sucked and were incredibly un-crafty and certainly not Hardknotty.

To be fair, Mr Keeling told us to dig our heals in and fight for what we wanted. So I very gently suggested that if they wanted it to be a truly collaborative beer the name had to be similar to the sort of name I would use for our own beers. I liked Peat Soup, because it was play on words regarding London smog and a reference to the fact the beer used peat smoked malt. Some of the Fullers people thought it too obtuse for most people to understand. I think people that understand us also understand the name reference. You, dear reader, are not stupid.

I think there was a fear that people may react badly to the word "soup" which might subliminally make folk thing the beer was gloopy or something.

Eventually we came up with Peat Souper. A super beer!! Well, hopefully we've got away with it, and it doesn't flop when out in the wild.