When you next visit BottleShop: Canterbury, in the Goods Shed (the six-day-a-week farmer’s market) you’ll find Toby, Mia & Christian who all love to surprise their visitors with the new beer we have available. Whether it’s last week’s curve ball of a Kernel Witbier, the next phenomenal IPA by Fuerst Wiacek or Omnipollo’s latest decadent dessert stout, the unique appeal of the new drives breweries, us bartenders and customers on our journeys of exploration.
The brewers are driven in part by that unique appeal, in part by social media, where ideas are shared more regularly than they ever have been before, and in part by customer expectations in such a rapidly changing market place. There’s a lot of pressure on breweries to experiment with new beers, historical styles, seasonal ingredients, packaging solutions, naming conventions, and labelling formats. From the customer perspective, there’s the promise of your next favourite beer packaging, beer name, beer taste, reward on Untappd, ‘likes’ on other social media platforms, and maybe, just maybe, your next favourite beer!
Within this context of such a rapidly shifting sea swell of a beer scene, there are some brewers that are seeking to provide us the rocks on which we can climb when we’re yearning for a little rest, and a place with which to get a perspective on the sea’s movements. The sea offers such amazing opportunity to feel the excitement of the waves, the sky, the strength of the currents beneath and the overall ebb and flow of the tide, but it’s often equally valuable to enjoy it from the safety of a rock, away from all the risks.
Put simply, sometimes you want to know what you’re going to get, away from the risks of brew dates, instagrammable beer and ‘the new’. I guess the music equivalent may be reverting to Van Morrison’s Moondance after a few hours or days exploring Witch House or Drone Metal.
For me, that time to enjoy the safety of a rock is when I travel between our three BottleShop bars on the air-conditioned South Eastern railway trains. Train rides are not a time for taking risks. For your reference, a journey from London to Margate is just an hour and a half, the perfect amount of time for exactly two small package cans or bottles. A 45-minute journey from Canterbury West to London, or Canterbury West to Margate is just one well-chosen drink. With a 1L bottle of water by my side, it’s time to share three of my rocks which I urge you to explore again and again:
The Světlý Ležák (Lagerbier), is at pale lager at the magical 5% ABV. While sitting on a rock or on a train, the 500ml bottle of deliciousness gives an intense herbal saaz without the assertive bitterness so common in the style, as exemplified by Kout na Sumave. Being that bit sweeter, rounder, and full bodied, the Boar, of all animals, is a strangely welcome companion for a cool train ride. If you have three beers on your rock, we recommend drinking this one first, while it’s colder to allow the crisp carbonation time to work its magic.
Fresh off the back of winning Bronze at the World Beer Awards, then the BBC Best Drinks Producer in the UK, the most recent batch of the 6.2%, foudre-aged Saison à la Provision is better than ever. It’s a pleasure to include an evolving beer in this blog post, after all, rocks do change shape over time. Its character relies on the evolving balance of microflora in what are Britain’s first beer foudres where it’s aged for extended periods. 33cl bottles for around £5-6 in bars offer wonderful value for money and the complexity / drinkability is a dream-like balance.
As a sign off, you can catch up with the Burning Sky and Stillwater Crew in person at London Craft Beer Festival this weekend by buying your tickets here.
I’d love you to share what your rocks are in this sea of change?