I travel a fair amount on BottleShop business each year – 2017 saw me out the country for around 2 months – and this is one of the reasons why we get our hands on #WorldClass beer. It takes time and effort to visit every brewery we work with but I think it’s really important to know who you’re working with. As we’ve been around since 2010, and had a great new-investor / 7th birthday a few weeks ago, I’ve had the chance to see many breweries blossom and grow. The opportunity to travel to America on beery business has really reaped rewards for us.
The US Craft Brewers Conference and Great American Beer Festival are fantastic for meeting old friends and making new ones. It gives a great opportunity to try new breweries and hear what’s causing people to go ‘wow’. We then follow-up with a visit a few months later outside of the festival season to put the finishing touches to our commercial relationship and schedule the first shipment. We’ve been filling up 40ft containers with beer for a couple of years now from Los Angeles with Green Flash, Alpine, Modern Times, Ironfire and other amazing breweries.
When visiting these guys, it’s easy to see why the beer they’re producing is #WorldClass. The brewers have trained at the best breweries in America – Ballast Point, Stone, Lagunitas as well as commercial behemoths like Budweiser and Coors. They’ve worked with the beery equivalent of Michelen star chefs and/or McDonalds – they’ve learnt from the best when it comes to quality and commercialism. The scale of producing beer for 50 states also means they have the money to invest in laboratories that are bigger than many UK breweries. Their dedication to quality control is astonishing – and essential when each batch of beer costs around $80,000.
We’ve managed to get routes out of Colorado which has led us to recently bring Left Hand and Crooked Stave over to the UK. We’ve tapped into Northern California and will be bringing over fresh, refrigerated Bear Republic and Anderson Valley early next year. These beers have been seen in the UK before but never in the condition they’re arriving in through our #ColdChain. A case of BR Racer 5 & AV Gose are already pre-booked for my home fridge.
We’re also working to get our Green Flash and Alpine beer shipping from their Virginia Beach brewery. This will cut the journey time down to 2 weeks from being packaged to being on-sale in the UK – which we’re hugely excited about. I took a trip to North Carolina a few weeks ago to see who else we can send in the container and had the chance to visit some fantastic breweries who we hope to see over here.
Asheville is an amazing beer-town with Burial, Highland, Sierra Nevada, New Belgium and Wicked Weed there (to name a few). It was truly heartening to see how the locals have taken to Sierra and New Belgium opening up breweries on their doorstep. I thought there would be some resistance, some sense of ‘who do they think they are?’ but there wasn’t a whisper. I visited the Sierra brewery and as soon as I started driving up ‘Sierra Nevada Drive’ into woodland with hop-shaped lights, I knew this was something different. The sheer scale of the brewery is staggering but matched by the dedication to detail that’s been considered. At 12:20pm on a Sunday, there was already a 30 minute wait for a table in the main beer-hall. The food was superb and the staff knowledgeable, interested and invested in all things Sierra Nevada without it feeling culty or weird.
I urge anyone who hasn’t been to America as a beer tourist to consider it as a bucket list challenge. There’s so much to admire when it comes to their dedication to quality and ability to know how to brew some of the finest beer on the planet. It’s fair to say that we intend to bring over the best beer we can for your drinking pleasure and become the 51st State when it comes to US beer being available in the UK. No compromise, no filler – all killer ;o)
Founder & MD