At the Nettle, we love showcasing UK only beer from independent brewers, however – for the first time – I had to remove a brewery’s beers from our cellars and return them to the brewers.
This was no fit of pique on my part. I think breweries should be independent – plain and simple. I will only stock beers from independents, and when Camden Town stopped being independent, in my view, I stopped stocking their beers. I’ll confess that perhaps kicking the ones I had out of the cellar was more to make a point than because the quality won't have dropped the moment the announcement was made, but I feel the quality will drop as soon as the big firm accountants take over the running of the company. It would not surprise me that the recipes and processes will move into the hands of the accountants – a few fewer hops here, a reduction in maturation time there – it starts to add up to richer profit, and a poorer beer.
I have no issue with breweries being profitable and expanding, in fact I encourage it! I enjoy purchasing new beers, finding new breweries and help support the UK brewing industry. The issues for me is when the shareholders of said breweries aren't Michael or Noel, they are a faceless multi-national company, who's shareholders are pension funds or investment firm. Any profit should go back into the local economy, wherever they are located in the UK.
It isn’t just the profit-driven nature of stockholder-driven breweries. It’s the brute fact that people who do things because they love them will always, always be better at it. They’ll pursue an idea just because it’s great; they’ll tinker with the process until it’s perfect; they’ll work and work ‘til they produce something they can be proud of. In short – the outcome they work for is a product so good it succeeds whatever the business.
On a more positive and interesting note, we’re planning a lot more events this year, with a new tap takeover every month. Tap takeovers are a joy because they allow the brewery to showcase some of their more unusual brews, and allow us to work with them to bring you even more interesting and unusual beers. They’re a great opportunity to showcase independent brewers in an independent pub. We love them, so keep an eye on our social media channels and in the bar for more details.