Friday, 21 December 2012

Happy Christmas

from Mediocre Beer Adventures.

Big love to everyone who has taken the time to read my blog, during the past 12 months.  I love you all.

Even bigger love to the Birmingham beer community (they know who they are).  We have made enormous strides in 2012, but 2013 is where things go SUPERMASSIVE.

"We're bigger than US steel"

Sunday, 16 December 2012

A Year of Achievement

A short while ago, a colleague was commenting on the massive admiration he had for this blog, given all the successes it's helped to bring about during the past 12 months.  He thought it would be good (and a sort of end of year treat for you all) if I did a quick post summing up some of Mediocre Beer Adventures' successes:

1. Invented a phrase
Back in my earliest posts, the 'stolen crawl' appeared.  12 months later it's a phrase which entered general circulation to such an extent that the OED is set to include it in it's next edition.

2.  Organised a Twissup
Way back in Spring(?) MBA thought it was about time that the various Brum beer Twitter people sat down and looked each other in the eye.  Hence the inaugural Twissup, which took in some prime pubs and cemented several friendships, borne out of a load of blokes saying 'you're me besht mate' over and over again.

3. Named a beer
To celebrate Ian Harrison's 10,000th review on Ratebeer, Steel City kindly offered to brew a beer in his honour.  Stumped for a suitable name, who stepped into the breach?  Yes, Mediocre Beer Adventures.  The name?  Olymp-Ian.  Genius.

4. Became the voicepiece of Industry
In perhaps my most genuine-est piece of investigative journalism, I took a long hard look at the major players in the Birmingham beer scene.  This went up a storm and allowed me to use stake my claim as 'a player' in my own right.  Since that date I am able to walk into any pub in the city and people offer me free beer (in exchange for me giving them money).  But seriously (great album btw) this blog post was a fascinating experience and allowed my readers to see the men and women who control their beer lives.

5. Did a 3-way collaborative blog post
Way back in April, I instigated a beautiful blog collaboration, which saw 3 bloggers review 3 beers, all of which were under 3%.  All the beers were rubbish, but it was a brilliant idea.  Thanks to Simon at CAMRGB and the much missed Richard at Porter Pages for taking part.

6. Carried out 2 x craft beer reconaissance missions
Selflessly I visited both Sheffield and London, to assess their beer scenes and report back to the eager drinkers of the West Midlands just exactly what they were/are still missing.  Namely a Euston or Sheffield Tap, a Craft Beer Co and a Brewdog.  By Wednesday 12th December, we'll be able to scratch one of those from our collective wish lists.

7. Predicted the future
Along with erstwhile blogging colleague David Aleman (of the OthertonAleman blog), I wrote what can now be seen as a prophetic post, outlining exactly what sort of characters were required to instigate a craft beer revolution in our city.  As if by magic, I become a beer maven for a seething mass of drinkers, ready to smash down the doors of perception*, in search of acceptable beer choice. 

8. Built an off-licence map
No one else saw the need for a map of Birmingham off licences.  No one else had the foresight.  I did.  I dared to dream.  Now, every time a fellow beer lunatic drives halfway across the city, to purchase a bottle of rubbish Ukrainian lager, from a East European food shop, they have me to thank for it.  My number #1 ranked post (by page views).

9. Drove the craft beer revolution 
Through constant harrassment of pub chains, landlords and brewers, good beer has seeped into Birmingham like a dyke from which a finger has been removed.  I demanded that Brewdog come to Birmingham - now they are.  I asked for other beer bars - some are on the way.  I demanded UK craft beer choice in our established boozers - it is here.  I don't want to become a victim of my own hyperbole, but as I sit here, fully clothed, it occurs to me that I may just be Birmingham's beer Messiah.  Is this getting too much yet? 

10. Invented novelty beer photography
A good idea was waiting to be discovered.  It was so simple, why had no one thought of it before?  All you need[ed] is beer, a camera and a selection of seemingly random objects...... Behold, a new craze was born.

11. Dominated the local press
Oh, and I was featured in an article in the Birmingham Post, written by a top PR guru.

12. Galvanised, nay initiated a Birmingham Beer Scene
Through my Twissup effort I gathered together the disparate Brum beer strands on Twitter.  I then charmed them at beer tastings and festivals, and, for my pains lent my credibility to beer and brewery launches.  Some thought I was spreading myself too thin, but I just couldn't stop giving.  And now the rewards are clear, as the children of my revolution go out into the Birmingham heartlands, spreading my good words and propelling the Brum craft beer scene into larger and bigger erm things.

13. Generated 18000 hits
Is that a lot?  It sounds like a lot.  Even discounting the number of people who feel obliged to log in, because they know me, that is still a lot of people who have dropped by.  And I'm grateful.  And no, although my Dad is mad keen on MBA, even he wouldn't be prepared to log in 18,000 times, just to pump my ego.**

So there you have it.  What started out as a bit of fun for me, a place to flex my linguistic and punctuational muscles, has turned into a radical, some might say vital campaigning force, which has brought about real change on the Birmingham beer scene.  2013 is lift-off for craft beer in Brum: who knows what we, or rather I will be able to achieve this year.  Let's have, errr, it.

Deluded? Moi? Non.

*a reference which makes no sense.  Whatsoever.
**but I love him anyway

Monday, 10 December 2012

Golden Pints 2012

Hello, yes. 

Last year I sent off my nominations for the Golden Pints awards, even though I wasn't a blogger.  A year on and I am, in the words of my wife "always typing on the ruddy computer", so I feel fully justified in making a proper 'blogger's' response to the 2012 version.

Here are my award WINNERS:

Best UK Draught Beer

Tiny Rebel Urban IPA

Best UK Bottled or Canned Beer
Brodies Hoxton Special IPA

Best Overseas Draught Beer

Ska Modus Hoperandi

Best Overseas Bottled or Canned Beer

Nogne India Saison

Best Overall Beer

Brodies Hoxton Special IPA

Best Pumpclip or Label

Anything from Moor

Best UK Brewery


Best Overseas Brewery


Pub/Bar of the Year

In Birmingham and the Black Country = Windsor Castle, Lye
Nationally = Sheffield Tap, err Sheffield

Beer Festival of the Year

Not a big festival fan.  Only been to one in 2012, so it'll have to be Birmingham Beer Festival. 

Supermarket of the Year


Independent Retailer of the Year

Cotteridge Wines

Online Retailer of the Year

Beers of Europe

Best Beer Book or Magazine


Best Beer Blog or Website

The one and only.... Mediocre Beer Adventures

Best Beer Twitterer

Simon Johnson or Pierre Van Klomp

Best Online Brewery Presence

Food and Beer Pairing of the Year

I don't eat and drink simultaneously

In 2013 I’d most like to...

Visit Birmingham's new range of craft beer bars, on a regular basis

My Best Post of the Year

Now, eagle-eyed viewers will spot that I've adopted a slightly provocative, 'Liam Gallagher' style posture in my nominations.  I'm not sure if I like it, so you may not see this persona a second time.


Saturday, 8 December 2012

Birmingham/Black Country Pub of the Year 2012

A short post this, as I am trying to learn to be conciser that what I have been known to be.

My pub of the year is based on a combination of two things, of which the latter is the subordinate.

First: I look for good beer - either a big range, or a smaller range of good beer.  Ideally a big range of great beer.  Extra points are gained here for uniqueness of the offering.

Second: a like a pub with a nice feel - friendly staff, nice furniture, good music, cool decor et al.

For Birmingham, I believe this year has been a transitional one for pubs: we are betwixt the great craft beer 'lift-off' of 2013, but much {much} better off than the pre-Wellington days of 2004.  In the Black Country meanwhile, the old classics plough on undaunted, even while the next generation of pubs and breweries chomp at the/a bit.

And so, without further ado, here are my Top 3 [Brum/Black Country] pubs of the 2012 year, in reverse order.

3. Post Office Vaults, Birmingham
Loses points for being cramped and very expensive, but gains big points for having a marvellous Belgian range.  To be able to go into a city centre boozer and be guaranteed Orval, De Molen, St Bernardus, Slaapmutske etc is fantastic and not to be taken for granted.  For donkeys' years we have begged for a place like this, and now we have it.  Tiny Rebel on tap, on a regular basis is appreciated also.

2. The Victoria, Birmingham
Scores highly for being a cool place to hang out.  Also garners enormous praise for being the first, and largely the only city centre pub to stock UK craft beer, albeit in bottles.  I love the idea (and the reality) of leaving work, and then 5 minutes later being able to drink Kernel or Red Willow, whilst listening to some cool choons.  The Bitters 'n Twisted pub chain deserves credit for seeking to fill the craft beer gap in Birmingham and the Victoria is a place I enjoy spending time.  Bravo.

1. The Windsor Castle, Lye
A wonderful place.  A short train journey from Snow Hill station brings you to the home of Sadlers, a West Midlands brewery who are absolutely at the top of their game.  This place scores well for cleanliness, comfort, staff and decor, but let's not pretend otherwise - it's the beer range that brings me back.  To be able to walk into a pub and be confronted by 10 or so handpulls devoted to fresh, local produce is fantastic.  Added to this is the fact that Sadlers are churning out big, hoppy beers; more so than any other local brewery.  Hop Bomb is marvellous, but Dr Hardwicke's is the one what does it for me the mostest.  If I can recommend a pub crawl to people in 2013, it is the Number 9 crawl which takes in the Duke William in Stourbridge (for Craddock's beers), the Windsor Castle in Lye and the Waggon and Horses in Halesowen.  Black Country beer heaven - I'M TELLING YOU.

Well done to Sadlers and well done to the Windsor Castle - the Mediocre Beer Adventures Birmingham and Black Country Pub of the Year for 2012.