Thursday, 13 March 2014

Doing the right thing... In terms of beer packaging

With craft beer being a growing market segment I have noticed that quite a number of new players are not abiding by the rules. As a start I do not quite agree with all the rules, but not agreeing with them does not mean one can simply ignore them.
The problem with a few bad apples in the industry is that they end up irking the authorities and it results in more hassles for those who play by the rules from the start.

The next time you pick up a few small batch beers have a look at the packaging...

Does the brewery state their name and address? Can you actually determine who manufactures the beer? An actual address is required... Just a website does not count.
(And by the way... If you buy small batch beer should you not be more interested in who actually brews the beer you are spending good money on? Who do you prefer to support... The guys who experiment and craft good beers themselves or the people who bought a recipe and get someone else to brew the beer?)

Is there a warning portion with black text on a white / light background covering at least an eighth (as far as I can remember that is the required fraction) of the label portion in question?

Can you spot a disclaimer stating that the beverage cannot be sold to people younger than 18?

Is the bottle volume indicated in a font size not smaller than 4mm?

Is the alcohol content and main ingredients visible in letters no smaller than 1.5mm if it is a 330ml bottle or 2mm if it is a 440mml/500ml/550ml bottle?

Does the brewer claim the contents is organic or gluten free without providing some form of certification standard they adhere to?

Is the beer spiked / infused with some kind of spirit?

If you answer YES to any of the questions above the packaging and/or contents is not compliant with the rules and regulations.

(All images from )

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Sunday Afternoon Nostalgia - 2013 London Trip - The Kernel Brewery

The one thing I struggle with is to properly capture adventures. As soon as you get back from a trip normal life takes over way too quickly. Cameras with nearly full memory chips and semi legible notebooks are quickly packed into a cupboard, forgotten and only discovered many months later...
In most cases I never get around to attempt documenting the adventure they contain.

With some spare time on hand and some Sunday afternoon nostalgia I guess, now is as good a time as any...

My brother had quite a stroke of luck and was "forced" to take four weeks off work, otherwise he would have lost some of his leave. They were already planning a trip to Europe so we decided to extend the trip a bit; join up in London and have a week of sight seeing, museums and as many pubs + breweries as we could fit in. It was destined to be a fun trip... We haven't been on holiday together for almost 10 years.

Off the plane it was me vs. the London Transport system. Parts of the Piccadilly line serving Heathrow was down for track replacement and I has to navigate the bus system to get to Shepherds Bush... Not a difficult process, but quite time consuming and cutting into our "beer research" time. I dropped off my bags and we were on our way to brewery number one via the Maltby Street Market.

As always Maltby Street is a very cool place to hang out... Loads of stalls with food, pastries, coffee, beer, gin, cocktails, antiques, fresh produce, and much more. Sadly Maltby Street has become a bit too hipster. Quite a few of the places that started it have moved to other railway arches. To some extent the flair of small producers having a market day on Saturdays is gone. I think the biggest loss for the market is that The Kernel Brewery moved to a set of arches a few blocks away. Quite a number of Maltby Street tenants followed them.  

The Kernel Brewery is by far my favourite brewery in London... and one of my favourites in the world.

The Kernel Brewery was founded in September 2009 by Evin O’Riordain. From Irish decent and with an education in English and Russian literature, he is not your typical brewer. He has a different approach to brewing beer. High quality, hop forward and interesting beers are what you can expect from them. The beers aim to showcase the characteristcs of the hops. Some of the beers can a bit on the "acquired taste" side of the scale if you are a normal commercial beer drinker, especially when they are single hop beers with using very distinct or very new hop varieties. Their beers constantly evolve and change. Evin's stance on brewing is pretty much summed up as follows: "I’ll never achieve perfection, there are always things you can change.”

The brewery is very community focussed. Market days on Saturdays are pretty special. From early mornings people shuffle through the brewery & makeshift tap room to stock up on small batch beers for the weekend & week ahead or simply to stop for a pint or two while eating something bought from the charcuterie or bakery next door.

After a few tasters we hit the road to find Partizan Brewing. The search took longer than expected. We got a bit lost in South Bermondsey and must have walked past the nondescript rail arch housing the brewery a couple of times.

Partizan is one of the newer breweries in London. They took over the old Kernel brewing system and are cranking out very good beers. Unfortunately there were not many people at Partizan and no vibe to mention, so we tasted a few beers and headed back to The Kernel.

Within the hour that we were gone the tasting area at The Kernel filled up with beer fans... With some charcuterie & bread from the neighbouring arches we settled down and started to really enjoy the beers... Great beer, good food & interesting company...

Our tally for the day at The Kernel and Partizan:
The Kernel - Export India Porter
The Kernel - Pale Ale Mosaic
The Kernel - IPA C.A.N.S
The Kernel - IPA Columbus
The Kernel - Pale Ale Nugget
The Kernel - S.C.A.N. Darkly (Black IPA)
Partizan - 9 Grain Porter
Partizan - IPA Bobek Amarillo