I read last week that Camden Town Brewery are to be sold to AB InBev,* who are responsible for Budweiser. This sale follows a slew of other ‘sell-outs’ by trusted craft brewers, including Goose Island and Lagunitas in the USA and Meantime in the UK and has, of course, generated widespread dismay. The saddest thing about such acquisitions is that the corporations behind them are driven by standards that undermine the values of craft brewing. A sort of beer oxymoron. They homogenise the excellent values in local brewing in an attempt to make money quickly, and the two don’t go together.
Last week we celebrated our good friend Pete’s birthday with beers and Scotch eggs at BrewDog on Battersea Rise. A great beer experience and fun with friends. Pete helped us develop our dough recipe and is in the Hall of Fame. Or at least he is in the Hall of Excellence, since excellence is better than fame, as BrewDog have taught me. Maybe we’ll actually have a physical hall for this someday- at the moment its a metaphor.
BrewDog value their product and their people more highly than their bank balance or global image and it’s remarkable to see how that plays out on the menu there. At least a dozen of their own beers are on tap, with another dozen or more guest taps, a range of entirely interesting and integral representations of various brewing heritages. I had a This.Is.Lager and then 5am Saint. Unambitious perhaps, but i was driving, and the really exciting ones are all quite strong! Among the group of friends who had assembled there was a general buzz of discussion and interest relating to the choice of beer- unlike anything you’d usually see in a bar or pub on a given evening.
SamBrook’s are our local brewery. They hosted our 3rd Birthday party in December 2014 which happened to be the day we started serving our newly formulated dough. I remember balling it behind the van in freezing conditions, intermittently sipping at a pint of Wandle. It’s so good from the brewery tap! Pete and Chris and I were at By the Horns recently as well, also nearby. We drank 1/3 pints, sampling their various wares, indifferently watching Arsenal on the big screen. Again, it is so worthwhile to drink local beer- go and do it!**
Perhaps the biggest question raised in the sale of Camden Town Brewery is whether you want to take the slow road or the fast one. Slowness takes courage but you get the best results in the end. Our time at BrewDog yesterday reminded me that fast and glossy doesn’t have to be the route we take in order to enjoy what the world has to offer. Excellence and community can’t be fast tracked.
*AB InBev is a weird name for a company