Nomadic Blogging and Brewing

Image: Kristina B

I think most beer bloggers would accept that their writing or photography is cyclical, to varying degrees.  Themes and ideas are revisited but are not necessarily repetitions.  Within a new blog post or article it is common practice to reference similar material, like-minded or conflicting, to give context and as a way of documenting and archiving developments in a particular topic of interest.  I’m finding that when I consider writing a blog post, I can choose a current talking point, or I can review a topic that either I or someone else has previously commented on.  It can of course be both of these things.  One other option is to write collaboratively or to guest blog with another blogger, something I tried in 2011 and will be looking to expand on this year.

As a homebrewer and someone who harbours serious aspirations to be involved in the brewing industry, I mostly revisit ideas involving brewing, kind of an appraisal of my brewing activity, a ‘where am I now’ and ‘where do I see myself in five years time’ type exercise.  I feel it’s important to do this every so often regardless of the subject, to renew focus or to change direction.

As it is the beginning of a new year and having read that yesterday is the day of the year that people are most likely to look online for a new job, I found myself thinking things over.  I know how easy it is to switch jobs to freshen things up a little, I’m lucky enough to be able to do this If I choose to.  Having said that, I don’t look at this in the same way as I did five years ago.  I no longer take my employment for granted and see little point in starting a new job that is essentially the same as the last.  So if I had the opportunity or the resources to take brewing a step further I’d take it.  I’ve looked at my options when it comes to brewing, not in as much detail as would be needed if I was about to do it tomorrow, but know that there are three options available to me: 1). Find a job with an existing brewery, 2). start a brewery, or 3). brew professionally using someone elses brewery.  There is of course a fourth option to carry on homebrewing, enjoy it for what it is and stick to the day job.

Cuckoo brewing is basically a practice whereby a brewer pays to use spare capacity at someone elses brewery.  A shining example of this approach being Mikkel Borg Bjergsø and his marvelous Mikkeller beers, I also regard him, along with a more local example in Revolutions Brewing Co, as my main inspiration in looking to progress from kitchen brewing.  Will Hawkes recently wrote about Bjergsø as The Gypsy Brewer and Intelligent Life magazine – the lifestyle publication from the Economist – have written a piece in their Jan/Feb 2012 edition: “Move over, Carlsberg: the gypsy brewers are coming“.  I need to explore this business model and brew plenty more beer at home before proclaiming this is where I’m heading, but it’s certainly an interesting approach.   I’ll revisit this again on my blog in six months time and try and keep my goal in sight.

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18 thoughts on “Nomadic Blogging and Brewing

  1. It must be something that crosses the mind of every entusiastic homebrewer at some point – particularly when they see so many of the brewing greats began that way. Gypsy brewing is now becoming more available, for sure. Best of luck with the goal!

    • Cheers Rich. Excatly that. We homebrewers have one good brew and think we can rule the world 😉
      I’ll be taking my usual cautious approach to this and won’t set myself any deadlines. What will be will be!

  2. Very interesting…I have looked into it quite a bit and chatted to Dave from Steel City about cuckoo brewing. You may want to tap him up for his experiences.

    One thing it would be interesting to know is if Mikkeler is really cuckoo brewing or if he is effectively contract brewing and distributing. The Customs and Excise people make life hard for a true nomad in the UK. Meaning (I think) that the host brewery has to buy the materials and pay the duty on the beer.

    We have backed away from the true cuckoo approach with Weird Beard, looking at the possibility of a premises share with another startup.

    Hopefully I will get to blog about this more over the weekend.

    • I was actually meaning to get in touch with you at some point for your thoughts, but you’ve beaten me to it. I knew from Leigh’s post that Steel City do something along these lines, but not a lot else about them. I may get in touch through Twitter and see if he has time for a chat. Interesting point re: Mikkeller, and no idea myself, I just have this romantic picture of a guy with a napsack full of hops just travelling from town to town 🙂

      I’ll watch out for your updates!

  3. Interesting post Dave, it would be great if you could do this and follow your vocation.

    I had an idea on similar lines, we’ll chat about it over a beer soon I hope

  4. I’ve thought about these things, but I’d need to brew a hell of a lot more before I could seriously consider it. The idea of brewing once a week on someone else kit is really appealing, as I could then do my current job for the other four days and actually have a bit of security. I suppose it all depends on if you can find a local brewery who has capacity and doesn’t mind you using it.

    I quite like Gregg’s idea of teaming up with other parties and sharing a space.

    • I agree, I need to use this year and probably next to brew as many beers as possible. I think the 1 day a week approach would be perfect too if feasible with the other work that would be required aside from the brewing. A cuckoo cooperative of sorts would certainly work.

      • Like last year, I’m aiming for one brew a month. At least once all the building work is finished and my brew shed is in its final resting place. Having a brew fridge should mean, unlike this year, that I can brew during July/August/September and get away it. I think I’ll probably take a half day on a Friday each month and brew, then it wont impact on the family life over the weekend.

      • Good plan Bob, I think that would be a reasonable way forward for me too. I have taken a step backwards with my move to the garage as the roofers managed to make the leaky roof worse…once we have better weather that’ll be fixed and I can start sorting the electrics. I have a fridge ready to be converted, but not sure where I’ll keep my beer 🙂

        Good luck with it.

  5. Hey David – The option that blows them all out of the water is of course #JFBI
    Seriously though, keep researching and talking to people, there are many ways to achieve your goal.

      • Another great example as well as those we discussed yesterday is Malcolm Bastow of (the multi-award winning) Five Towns brewery in Outwood, nr. Wakefield. Psychiatric nurse by day, 2 1/2 BBL brewer by night and weekend – in a “shed” at the bottom of his garden.

      • Ah yes, I remember reading a post by Leigh on Malcolm. I have space for the brewery at home so just need to renegotiate the terms of my marriage contract.

        I,broadfordbrewer, take thee, garage brewery, to be my lawful wedded weekend wife. I better stop digging this hole.

  6. Do it, we need more and more more self aware brewer, I hope that a brewery locally will pick up on that, and enlighten themselves toward that fact.

    keep up the great work!

    • Cheers Phil. I was chatting with the Mark and Andy from Revolutions and to Dom from Thornbridge (Tom from Roosters too) last night at our local homebrew meeting. I couldn’t quite believe my luck tbh. The Leeds Homebrew group is in its infancy, but I think it will be key in helping me develop. It’s up to me to make it happen and I’ll be going about it the best I can.

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