What is ‘Craft Beer’?

Another installment in my series for This Greedy Pig.

What is Craft beer?

A craft is defined as ‘a pastime or profession that requires some particular kind of skilled work’ and is ‘usually applied to products produced on a small scale’. Although brewing is without doubt a kind of skilled work ‘craft beer’ is a term that seems to elude precise definition. Growth in sales of craft beer over the past few years have been enormous and it is the current trending niche amongst operators. However this massive growth has attracted big companies looking to cash in on the craft brand, leading to a dilution in its definition. There isn’t a real straightforward answer to what craft beer is. But I believe there are minimum criteria that must be met to genuinely be considered craft.

Actually Making The Beer

This one seems to be patently obvious, surely to sell a craft beer you actually have to make it yourself? Yet some people fall at this first tiny hurdle along the path to being craft. Marketing company Innis and Gunn are launching a new range of products early this year and are not shy about jumping on the craft bandwagon.

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Barrel Aged Rusty Nail Tasting

This is another post for Edinburgh Whisky Blog where I attended a tasting of a series of Barrel Aged Rusty Nails.

I was invited to join the tasting panel for an unofficial, off-brand, barrel aged Rusty Nail experiment run by Drambuie Brand Ambassador Bruce Hamilton. The Rusty Nails were each aged for 55 days in first fill casks seasoned with one of; cabernet sauvignon, Drambuie 15 base whisky, port, bourbon, rum, and sherry. As well as this the Rusty Nails were twisted a little with Gancia Rosso, Cherry Marnier, and orange bitters.

After enduring the kind of severe soaking that only the unpredictable Edinburgh winter can provide I was primed for a warming winter beverage, or seven.

To welcome us and refresh our memories we were treated to an original Rusty Nail made according to Bruce’s recipe, packed full of liquorice, cloves, and blood orange flavours with a pleasantly warming boozy burn. From here the tasting was to proceed in silence to avoid collusion with each of the panel making their own notes to compare at the end. As well as this we were to guess the seasoning of the cask in order to avoid forming opinions before tasting.

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Being Human

This is the first in a series of fortnightly posts to fashion designer This Greedy Pig’s blog.

In the first of a series of articles considering the wonderful ways of all things wet and intoxicating I’d like to begin by establishing some basic ground rules for obtaining and serving said elixirs in a public environment.

Too long have simple errors been committed. Too hot burn the fires of contempt for the weekend warrior in the breasts of the world’s bartenders. I’d like to turn these uncontrolled infernos back into flames of passionate service and rectify the simple errors committed by the uninformed. We all need to learn how to be human.

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Boutique Bar Show Report

This is a report I wrote after visiting the Boutique Bar Show in Glasgow. The piece is hosted at Edinburgh Whisky Blog

This year’s Scottish edition of the Boutique Bar Show was held at the Old Fruitmarket in Glasgow’s Merchant City, arguably the city’s cultural epicentre. I hitched a lift on the bus organised by the Scottish Bar Network, which at a fiver including a bloody Mary and a bacon roll kicks Scotrail’s ass. Continue reading

Scottish Real Ale Festival – Opinion Piece

This is a brief OPINION piece I wrote in reaction to my visit to the CAMRA Scottish Real Ale Festival yesterday.

Picture the scene, a huge gathering of the best drinkers, drinking the best beers, brewed by the best breweries, in a country endowed with an incredible brewing scene. All of these passionate people under one roof, tittering at Tennent’s drinkers, hating Heineken fanboys, and frowning upon Foster’s fanatics. Continue reading

Homeless World Cup Interview with Mel Young and David Duke

‘Why do the seagulls follow the trawler?….It is because they expect sardines to be thrown to the sea.‘ As Eric Cantona eloquently displays, football and philosophy very seldom come to a sensible confluence point. If its not seagulls and trawlers its Rafael Benitez’s priests and mountains of sugar. As the professional game moves further from reality philosophical meaning becomes obscured. However the relationship between football and philosophy is far from over. From the chubby five-a-side player falling over himself doing a stepover to big clubs running community projects philosophy thrives. Critically though this relationship rarely has an impact that spreads much further than the locale of its practitioners. But there is one movement that has broken through onto the global stage and is making a difference to thousands of people worldwide. Continue reading

Bruichladdich Whisky Tasting at The Place Hotel

An invite to a Bruichladdich tasting with matching food set in the supremely decadent surroundings of ‘The Place Hotel’ on York Place is not one that can ever be declined. The bar is a dazzling array of colour, solid black granite set underneath an intense display of Swarovski crystals strung around LED bars currently set on pink. This crystalline crapulence (a fancy word for over indulgence, Ed) is taken to the next level with the addition of wallpaper detailed with shapes made from the dust left over from the polishing process at Swarovski.

The key feature of the hotel bar’s finesse is noted Edinburgh bartender Alan Fisher, previously of the Point Hotel. Given free reign of the bar Alan has built up a superb gantry with a hefty focus on non-chill filtered single malts. With these tools and an unsurpassable knowledge at his disposal Alan is able to concoct some truly stellar beverages and proves this as he starts our night with a sublime Botanist Gin Sour.

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