I’ve refrained from saying much about this in case I bailed and left the project stillborn. Albeit I’ve not been particularly hush-hush… Anyway… I have beer in a cold-store now, and more beer on the way, quite a bit of beer all up… so this is most certainly going ahead.
What am I on about then? Simple: bringing more beer that I enjoy drinking into my part of the UK. That being Cambridgeshire and North Hertfordshire and areas thereabouts. We have some excellent pubs and some excellent local breweries, and I have nothing at all against the latter and enjoy their beer. But I just want to see a bit more variety. At the moment I get my variety mostly by drinking at home – and that’s just not right. The breweries in our area do do swaps with breweries elsewhere but they seem to bring in the same stuff over and over again. I’ve badgered breweries and pubs about this over the years and nothing much has changed… with many pubs simply saying they can’t get hold of this and that despite wanting do. FFS, we have several pubs here who can’t even get Dark Star and Thornbridge despite wanting it. (I’m not sure why, possibly due to not wanting to deal with the big distributors.)
So, thought I, if they can’t get hold of these beers… I know I can… I know breweries… I know pubs. How about joining these dots together.
Slowly this has come together, working out all the dull business-y bits took a while. Until now I’ve just been an office monkey so there has been a bit of a learning curve. Still have teething problems, like just discovering I have to hand a form in at a bank before I can actually pay money out of my Business Account. Useful… but I’m now ready to go. I have a big Jolly Yellow 350LWB Transit van (see right), I have sorted out an appropriate cold-store, and I have beer in it and en-route to it. The next part is getting it into pubs – several of which I already have relationships with… but for this exercise to be viable I need as many pubs as I can get. So now that I have actual beer on offer I’ll be bothering freehouses left, right, and centre. I just hope that enough are interested in something a bit different.
My initial selections bend a little to the conservative side – all cask and with a leaning to the lower ABV and less out-there styles. But I’ve included a scattering of IPA-style beers, some rich dark ones, and even a cask wit… to test the response from pubs. But don’t worry – my “conservative” includes great stuff like Redemption Trinity, Ilkley Mary Jane, and Hardknott Continuum – plus a lot of the core range from the same.
I’m also keen to do more than just deliver beer to pubs. I’m hoping to find some interest in more promotional activities and beer & food work as well. That’s part of why I did the Beer Academy course recently… it helps to have some sort of certificate, maybe? I’m pretty confident with my food and beer stuff, I come from an intensely foodie background (restaurant, parents are chefs, etc, etc). Also perhaps events, I’ll be getting my personal license sorted next week. Anyway – for the moment it is all about the beer.
The enterprise in question has been dubbed: Jolly Good Beer
A bit corny perhaps… but I like it. I’m an Aussie Anglophile… I like phrases like “jolly good!” Kat is responsible for the logo and will hopefully have time to brush up the website a bit soon as well. But that stuff isn’t really all that important. It is way behind: buying beer & selling beer and the vast amount of paperwork and back-office work that involves.
For my first wave I have Hardknott, Ilkley, and Redemption to thank for trusting me to look after their excellent beer. They’re all going to a nice safe 12°C storage container nearby which I will be monitoring with a data-logger just to be sure. This is just the start however and I have another three breweries in the pipeline… and more to come. I WANT ALL THE BEER… but sensibility dictates it comes in a little at a time at the moment. Anything not getting to the area that you’d really like to see? Let me know - via email, or via Twitter.
For information on where beers do get to follow @JollyGoodBeer… I’ll let you know who’s getting the good stuff.
Additionally – if you’re in my area (Cambs, N.Herts, and nearby) and know a good freehouse who might be interested in expanding their range let me know and I’ll be along to bother them shortly.