1. From where do you hail?
I am originally from Watford.
2. What’s your earliest memory of drinking craft beer?
Well, I started drinking real ale at… well, let’s say 18. Back then, this was really the only consistent non-terrible beer that you could buy in pubs. I always like to branch out and try as many different beers as possible, and was logging everything I drunk in a moleskin book as far back as 2006 (analogue Untappd, if you will). Back then, I very much enjoyed Belgian beers especially.
It was when I travelled the US in 2008 that I really got my first taste of the ‘craft beer revolution’ proper. The scene hadn’t really begun in the UK, and BrewDog started production while I was away, I believe. The whole ethos of the US scene was amazing. The sheer number of breweries, the wide range of styles and the cutting edge of experimentation was immense. These were breweries that weren’t burdened with concepts of ‘tradition’, nor were they fixated more on dispense methods than the quality of the product. I sampled over 1000 beers over six months, and visited countless breweries, brewpubs and amazing beer bars. It took a while, but it was fantastic to see it explode in the UK, and particularly London, in the subsequent years, to a point where we are every bit the equals of the American scene.
3. What’s your favourite beer label?
I always respect Kernel’s method of having essentially the same label for whatever they make. I think it’s a great brand stamp, and incredibly recognisable. Generally, I always think the best artwork serves the brewery as a whole, rather than any specific product. Great, but often simple graphic design can make or break a brewery. It’s something that I’ve really noticed since working in We Brought Beer – if a good brewery has poor labels, they need a lot more assistance in selling their beers.
4. If you could go on a beer pilgrimage to anywhere in the world, where would you go?
I always love going back to the West Coast, although it’s been a few years since I last went. I’ve not been to Colorado, which I think is my spot to visit in the US for the first time. I’d also like to do a far more in depth travel around Belgium.
5. What’s your current favourite beer style?
It’s a little conventional, but I probably have to say Imperial Stouts. I’ve always loved dark beers, and when they’re amazing, Impy Stouts can’t really be beat, in my book. That being said, I also love a great DIPA, Eisbock, Rauchbier or Belgian Triple or Quad.
6. Where is your favourite place to drink in London?
You mean aside from WBB? I really love Kill the Cat on Brick Lane. Ultimately, it’s similar set-up to WBB, and they also have a fantastic atmosphere, great events and really friendly and knowledgable staff and owner. Despite not living very close to it, they always make me feel like a regular local when I go in.
My favourite taproom at the moment is Gipsy Hill’s. Not only because their beers of late have been wide ranging and incredibly high quality (for the most part), but it’s a really great space – laid back, large, welcoming and just a nice place to chill. You don’t have to be a total beer nerd to drink there and they have great food cart pop-ups.
I’ve adored the transition of Bermondsey, since The Kernel opened up. The area has completely overhauled since the breweries started opening and turned an area no one went to on a weekend into a buzzing, hip destination. I’m fairly sure I was calling it the ‘beer mile’ before the term became widely used, back when Fourpure opened as the fourth brewery in the area. There are now so many, that it’s pretty much impossible to complete the mile, unless you are very strict on ordering only the lowest ABV beers in the smallest measure.
One other area that’s been great for a number of years, but really come into its own lately is the stretch between Whitechapel up through Bethnal Green into Hackney. So many fantastic breweries, bars and taprooms in that stretch now. Again, it’s basically impossible to get from one end to the other still standing, but I probably recommend it as the number one area in London to hit up for a beer tour.
7. Tell us your favourite collaboration beer.
So, looking back over my ratings, the highest score I’ve given to a collab was Tokyo* Horizon, released many years ago by BrewDog with Mikkeller and Nøgne Ø.
However, of late, my favourite has been Gipsy Hill and Cloudwater’s fantastic imperial fruited sour Ballyhoo. I couldn’t recommend it fast enough in the shop.
8. What would soundtrack your drinking session?
Ideally some progressive rock/ metal. I notice this is quite thematic for our staff, and perhaps beer nerds in general?
9. What do you enjoy most about working in the beer industry?
Getting to talk about beer and share my passion with other people. I think it’s always about a knowledge share, and I love to be given great information about new beers, breweries and events, as well as anecdotes and interesting historical facts, just as much as I enjoy sharing them.