The best kind of book review, one which involves beer!

Sam Calagione is the owner of Dog Fish Head Brewery.  He was completely unknown to me before the other day, as were his beers.  We don’t get many Dog Fish Head beers over here in Blighty.

I saw the book as highly rated on some generic online purchasing website… ok Amazon and seemed like an inspiring read.  The book is called ‘Brewing up a Business‘ (probably should have mentioned this in the introduction).  Anyway, Sam charts his story of how he created one of the first Craft Beer breweries in the World.  If your British, this means Dog Fish Head was one of the preeminent Craft Breweries in the USA ergo the world.

It is an inspiring story due to the way that Sam set out to be different.  Not only did he buck the trend for mass produced lager and created the first Brew Pub in the State of Delaware selling ‘off centred beer for off centred people’.  He who dares wins.

What is the most incredible thing about Sam talks about the way he grew the business focussing on his passion for beer, local and fresh produce and doing everything he can to ensure the maximum taste and experience for the customer.  Looking back on the book, it is clear to see that whether he knows it or not (and just chooses not to state so explicitly) he has successfully inspired, or at least embodies the whole craft beer movement across the world.

This is what is so great about the craft beer industry.  Pushing the boundaries of what has come before, developing unique and interesting flavours for the benefit of the consumer using the best quality ingredients available.  It is progressive, ‘off centred’ and enriching.

The book is packed full of advice from all aspects of business but it poignantly ends focussing on the ideal of Goodness In Business, or as he explains ‘treating others as you would wish to be treated’.  As my friends at @happystartups would concur, happiness as well as profits can coexist in a business model.  To quote Sam Calagione himself:

‘the exploration of goodness – generating it, encountering it, sharing it, acknowledging it and celebrating it – is what we are all about and from what I have seen at so many other small companies we have worked closely with, or admired from afar, it is at the heart of any entrepreneurial success’.

If you like beer and agree with the above, you have to give this a read!















goodness in business treat ppl as you would wish to be treated




What I learnt from this years #GBBF

So the Great British Beer Festival came to town last week. Exciting stuff! I had been before but this time I felt like I was approaching it with a little more tact and knowledge and it was all the more enjoyable for it.
Here follows a note for the uninitiated or those wanting to get the best experience from the day.
Find some friends interested in drinking beer. You should know one or two.
Do attend during the day if you can. I went this year after work and I felt a little rushed trying to get through the beers I wanted to enjoy and not chug down prior to last orders.
Locate a table or any flat surface  with chairs surrounding it. This may require imagination, flattery or bullying to acquire this but has obvious benefits.
Create a beer fund. Get your friends to pool cash together (£10 or £20 in the pot to kick things off is plenty).
As a group, work through the brochure to browse the beers in each section that you want to try. This avoids the awkward situation of flapping around trying to choose a beer when faced with an abundance of unpronounceable varieties. Also itself useful in avoiding the glare from the large impatient bloke behind you in the queue and the ‘tuts’ from other elderly bearded gentlemen watching on.
You and your chums should try to purchase a half or third of different beer each from each station so you can each sample one another’s beverage. This means you try numerous beers from each area. Its amazing what you discover you like in beers you wouldn’t usually order.
Bring out your inner beer geek by chatting and conversing over the beers you are trying. This will help build your vocab and learn to express yourself verbally when describing what you are tasting.
Pork snacks and pies are an ideal accompaniment to beer. Fact.
Try to wash your glass out regularly or exchange it for a fresh one, especially after sampling beer which pongs heavily of smoked German sausage otherwise this will seriously impede your ability to smell anything else poured into said glass.
Award winning beers will sell out fast, this is fine though because these are just a few people’s opinions. Ask the bar staff volunteers to recommend you an alternative, they have taste buds too in most cases.
Plan your route home in advance!

Copenhagen Exploration

We Brits are spoilt and lazy. This is not a character assassination of the general public but what I'm talking about here is how lucky we are to live where we do. We are spoilt by being enviably located geographically in the centre of the world, Europe is merely a train ride away and English is (thankfully) the adopted spoken language of the world meaning we can venture where we like without scrabbling around for a dictionary just to get a taxi home. The ease with which we can explore Europe is taken for granted and in my experience rarely fully exploited. This is why I embraced the opportunity to explore Copenhagen for 2 days with someone I barely knew! (I won't explain the context here). 

The twitter community urged me to check out the Mikkeller Bars if i was in search of the best local brews. These guys have 2 bars in Copenhagen serving beer from a plethora of wall mounted American Style taps, most of which is brewed in house but they also offer guest beers in tap. 

Clearly the bars have been cleverly designed from both the server and the consumer's perspective. The concept seems simple, offer an enticing, 'cool' and convivial atmosphere to enjoy drinking good beer. This is delivered through clean interiors, communal tables and very informative staff who speak flawless English of course. 

We worked our way through a large number of pales and IPA's sticking to the Mikeller beers (when in Rome...) such as the simcoe and citra.
chips and drinks

chips and drinks

For me, the absolute stand out king was the Sorachi IPA using Japanese hops. This was an absolutely delightful combination of sweet candy almost like candy floss, hints of fudge but still with a nice refreshing hoppy feel. Id never tasted anything quite like this and I'm still dreaming about this stuff! 

The Mikeller and Friends bar is the larger of the two and had around 40 taps serving a huge selection of inventively named beers. The staff were constantly updating the chalk board with the names and numbers of the beers as the barrels were drained and freshly replenished.
Chalk boards and helpful staff!

Chalk boards and helpful staff!

There were at least four or five different IPA's, stouts, pale and amber ales available to those wanting to move through the styles horizontally or vertically. Go and spend a few hours in either of the bars, enjoy the ambience and get chatting to some locals. This is Copenhagen. 

Clearly any visit to Copenhagen would not be complete without a visit to the home of the beer that the Danes love so much 'they hate hate to see leave'. You cannot escape Carlsberg when in Copenhagen and the Brewery Tour is a continuation of the Danish love affair. The visitor experience centre not only contains every conceivable Carlsberg marketable item but they have also amassed the largest collection of beer bottles in the world as certified by Guinness Book of World Records. Set aside a few hours for the tour if you are interested in brewing. I'd have liked to do the guided tour if I'd known about it in advance.
Worlds biggest collection of bottled beer

Worlds biggest collection of bottled beer

Copenhagen itself was a great city, friendly people, picturesque and walk-around-able if you prefer to just go exploring. It is also clearly very trendy with good bars and is undergoing a good deal of gentrification turning some of the less desirable areas into a city playground for the young Danish Hipsters. If you find yourself there, make sure you pay a visit to Christiania. This is a fascinating 34hectare self run community which proudly proclaims its independence from Denmark and the EU. Christiania seems to function harmoniously and efficiently with its own laws and welcomes tourists assuming they do not embark on taking photos on their smart phones or SLR's. Surrounding the meandering and haphazardly formed and reclaimed neighbourhood is also some beautiful landscape to enjoy. Aside from 'Pusher Street' where soft drugs are openly sold there are numerous cafes and bars to enjoy a few cold ones and soak up the hippy vibe. 

Why not use beer as an excuse to get over to Europe? You'll find Copenhagen is great place to explore. I'm finishing this here before I sound too much like a travel brochure.
Not a travel blog

Not a travel blog

Thanks for reading