It’s Crafty…Dan

IMG_5509I don’t normally do requests, nor in fairness do I get many, in fact I’d go as far as to say that free beer rarely arrives at my door for review either way (not that it should of course). Yes I’ve had the odd marketing agency ask and a couple of breweries send new lines out to me now and then, but for me reviewing/blogging time is scarce so I choose to only write about things I’ve really enjoyed and not waste time on negativity. Not everyone’s approach, but each to their own and that is mine.

Anyway onto Crafty Dan.

This one really fits in neither category in terms of how I got the beer. I “won” it for want of a better description, in one of those follow and retweet to win sort if things run by Thwaites. After being told the good news, I waited “patiently” (taps foot) for my beers to arrive and was really chuffed when this little package of goodness was revealed.

IMG_5489The addition of the note I have to admit, really made me chuckle. I also had high hopes that in a true Alice In Wonderland stylee, drinking them would make me drop a couple of well needed jeans sizes (miracle beer?). On the other side of the tag though was another note…

IMG_5513As I read it, again a smile crossed my lips as I thought “you crafty f*****s”, but in truth I really admired the tongue in cheek approach the guys had taken. Beer should be fun right?

I decided there and then that I’d definitely write this one up regardless of what I found.

IMG_5511First off I love the look of the labels, they are bright and draw the eye in an interesting way with the barrel-shaped word cloud of beery info, although perhaps they’ve gone just slightly over the top with the craft references…

As I opened the cap the signs were good, the wisp of escaping carbonation loaded with zesty fruit. Saying that after pouring it’s not massively carbonated which works quite well, I’d be interested in how this would stand up in a keg versus cask taste off as I reckon both would work.

In the glass it’s a lightish gold colour with the loose white head disappearing rapidly. Aromas are not massive, I sort of expected a hoppy steam train hurtling headlong up my nostrils, it doesn’t come, but it still delights with dainty strawberry syrup, peaches and then marmalade spread on warm fresh white toast.

The taste follows suit in a really drinkable fashion, this beer hides its strength well. I could see myself quite easily quaffing several pints of this, no trouble at all but with dangerous consequences.. It’s light in the mouth but full of flavours, with for me, the marmalade and strawberry leading the way balanced with crusty bread malt tones. There’s a Chelsea flowershow-esque festival of floral notes going too mixing pleasantly with a lovely orange and lemon zestiness.

Crafty Dan is the 51st brew from Thwaites “craft” micro-brew plant of the same name, brewed to celebrate it’s one year anniversary and much as I’m not a massive fan of the big boys of brewing taking this line, I have to say that I really enjoyed it. It’s drinkable, flavoursome and hoppy without being as bitter as a broken heart as some pale ales can be and as much as I like that, a change is as good as a rest.

I’m not sure as to when and where this is going to be available commercially, I’m hoping for pubs and upcoming beer festivals, maybe someone from Thwaites can comment and put that straight? What I can say though is its stable mate “13 Guns” is doing the rounds, I know this as it’s due on at my local any day now, if you see it, try it as it’s a stunner.

If you try either, I’d love to hear what you think.


UPDATE: Check out this video review from Rob over at Hopzine

A 13 Gun Salute to Thwaites

A few weeks back a ran a post where I criticised the new wave of old school breweries “Crafty Moves” in either opening new small brew plants and calling themselves “Craft”, or just plain jumping on the bandwagon without even bothering.

This weekend I got to taste one of the fruits of Daniel Thwaites craft brewery, their 13 Guns American IPA, I enjoyed it immensely and messaged the brewery via Twitter to say so.

They very quickly responded as below, which I like. (there’s nothing more frustrating than a twitter presence with nobody behind it)

My thoughts on the branding still stand I have to say, despite the claims made above. I hope to be proven wrong but I very much doubt that these beers even if successful, will lose their “craft’ status and be absorbed into the core Thwaites range.

That aside and point very much laboured, I have to give credit where credit is due, this beer rocks!

I’m normally a flit around the bar sort of person loving exploring a good guest list, I get bored easily with a run of the mill selections though and am often found perusing the bottle list in my local. This beer kept me quite happy all on its own for two nights running. From the first sniff off tropical fruit as it was passed across the bar I knew this was going to be good, rammed full of aroma hops and it’s just so damn tasty. Extremely dangerous though at 5.5% as it’s incredibly drinkable.

Without a doubt the best beer from Thwaites that I have ever tasted, ever..

Hats off to the brewing team behind this, keep producing beer like this and you can call yourselves what you like for me, (I’ll just stop looking).

Thwaites Craft, I Thirteen Gun Salute you!


Crafty Moves..

I’m a little bemused or should that be “beermused”..

beermused – deeply absorbed in draught; “as distant and bemused as a professor listening to the rattling of his freshmans glass”; “lost in froth”; “a preoccupied brown”(made up word, possibly)

It’s about the new wave of (super)”Craft” breweries that are springing up in the UK from nowhere, from shall we say a slightly more “advantaged” financial position than your average craft/micro brewer.

Now I’m not going to go down the well-worn what is and what isn’t craft, nor am I going to try to define it myself, it’s all been done and done to death, so if you read beer blogs regularly it can’t have escaped you. The question I can’t get my head around though is why would you bother to rebrand yourself as craft when clearly you have a long brewing history already.

There are a few large breweries doing this at the moment with no doubt more to come, some seem to be doing it well, others not so in my view. (I’m talking purely branding here)

Take Greene King for example “CRAFTED FOR THE MOMENT”, the word craft is splattered all over their website and the latest TV ad is almost laughable. The sleepy village pub, the rugged landlord striving to keep the jolly throng of folks topped up with foaming “hand crafted” IPA. Makes you feel as though they brew it in the barn out the back..


Here’s a couple more examples of others appearing to be needlessly trying hard to scramble on to the craft revolution bandwagon, nails clawing at it hopelessly as is rolls endlessly onward..

Daniel Thwaites Craft beers – “Our limited edition craft beers are individually created by our brewers and based on some of their favourite recipes, to bring you a repertoire of ales that suits every season and occasion. Let us know which is your favourite Signature Ale; there is a range of 13 to choose from throughout the year – remember, each is only available for a limited period.”

Brains Craft Brewery – “Brains today announced that it is to extend production facilities at the Cardiff Brewery by installing a new craft brewery. The brewery will complement Brains’ existing plant and enable them to brew a diverse range of craft cask, keg and bottled beers.”

The thing is I welcome the idea, please brew more tasty exciting innovative beer, I just don’t like the execution.

It’s obvious that all brewers need to move with the times, beer needs to evolve to meet the ever changing demands of the great and the good but why do you need to segregate it as a stand alone part of your regular business and label it CRAFT, Mutton dressed as Lamb?

It’s interesting but also a little hypocritical to think of huge mass market breweries installing small micro brewing equipment in their no doubt enormous brewing plants. I wonder how many similar micro breweries fell by the wayside along the way from either buy-outs or competition at the hands of these brewing behemoths.

To summarise, below is what this drinker thinks of your marketing.

You’ve brewed for years, so clearly have lots of skill, you also have access to the finest brewing equipment and ingredients. But, to make something new and tasty to attract new drinkers you feel the need to call your new beers craft, does that mean that the rest of your old produce is dull, tasteless and boring??

Because that’s the impression it gives..