Friday, 23 September 2011

Beer, Brown and Big Brother Go West


I find myself in the stunning surroundings of West Brewing in Glasgow's East End for what sounds like a rather interesting, innovative and unique beer event that is taking place here as part of the Social Media Week Glasgow.

The event which draws me here is a Social Beer Tasting involving four beers, four brewers, a room full of people twittering their views (#SMWbeer) about the beers and countless others watching and participating via the live stream link up. The proceedings were chaired by 'Britain's most prolific and influential beer writer', Pete Brown.

The Brewing Overlord

He may have been chairing the event but overseeing it was the 'massive headed brewing Overlords' from Magic Rock Brewing, Rich and Stu who were linked up via Skype to the event from their Huddersfield base and cast an imposing yet benign Orwellian shadow by dint of their huge faces being projected on to the screen behind the assembled panel. It provided much mirth and merriment for those watching it on the live feed and tracking it on twitter.

Beer's Big Brother was watching us and by the looks of things, he was having a jolly old time.

Pete Brown's in fine form and having a jolly old time too as he gave us some advice on how to taste and appreciate beer prior to our first glass of the evening being poured.

"Neck the beer" was his first piece of advice. "Beer drinker swallow, don't spit" was his second as jugs of our first beer, West Brewery's Hefeweizen were placed on our tables. I've had this beer many times before and it rarely disappoints. Tonight it was on top form. A beery banoffee pie of a brew made with 80% wheat. It thought it was lovely and, judging by the tweets, others did too as it was described as having a "complex aroma but light refreshing flavour".

Petra from West explained the brewing process behind the hefeweizen and also spoke about the success of her Brewery and showed considerable pride in it's achievements not only in terms of growing the business (they have plans for a shiny new brewery twenty times larger than current capacity) but for also bringing manufacturing back to the East End of Glasgow.

The second beer was another long standing favourite of mine. It's Harviestoun's Schiehallion and as Pete Brown said in introducing the beer, "It proves that lager can be just as good as an ale". Some discussion followed as to whether it is a lager or a pale ale. It's a lager due to it's method of production but it ultimately doesn't matter. You can call it what you want. I call it a bloody nice beer.

Kelburn's Cart Blanche was next. It's another local beer made just outside Glasgow. A small family micro-brewery turning out 30 barrels a week of consistent, well made tasty beer. It's fairly malty with a delicate and lovely hop balance. I've had it on better form but taking into account that it was being taken from the cask, decanted into jugs and then carried across the brewery to our tables it was still an enjoyable beer.

raising a toast to Social Media Week

The last beer on was the one that I had been especially waiting for. It had been chosen by Pete Brown because he believes that this fledgling brewery represents a perfect example of a company that has used social media superbly well.

You can see why Pete asked Magic Rock Brewing to participate. They are a social media success story in the making. They have only been up and running since the start of the summer but they have managed to built up a phenomonal social media profile and legions of supportive and appreciative followers. The fact that they make really great beers also help but getting the branding right and connecting with their audience through Twitter and Facebook has helped them grow the company. As Magic Rock Rich said, "We wouldn't exist without social media".

Rich and Stu were in Huddersfield but they had sent up some of their Human Cannonball up for us to try. It's a big old beast weighing in at 9.2%ABV. It's Double IPA which means that it's had the hop volume turned up to Spinal Tap levels. And it's very drinkable. Very drinkable. It's chock full of loads of North American hops and has a sweet kick to it and a strong, pungent aroma that reminds some of cat piss. Others, such as Brown, of "damp dishcloths". For some in the room, it was their first experience of such a big beer. It was interesting watching peoples reactions. Some were instantly taken by it. Others, slowly won over by it.

It certainly made an impact and an impression. As did the Magic Rock Brewing Overlords Rich and Stu, whose irreverence and good humour endeared them to those in the room and others watching at home.

I liked the Human Cannonball. It reminded me of a sweeter, fruitier, better balanced and easier drinking Hardcore IPA.

As the beer flowed the discussion continued with a range of beery topics flying about - the ethos of craft beer, the importance of branding, BrewDog, beers next big thing and others beside.

It was a stonking social media evening and excellent tutored tasting. Many thanks to the Organisers for puting it all together, Pete Brown for holding it all together, the brewers for their beers and to the Massive Headed Magic Rock Brewing Overlords for keeping us entertained.



  1. Did you get to touch the great man?

  2. @Cooking lager

    There was a queue for that at the end. I didn't join it. I would have been too gushy ;-)