The date was the sixteenth of November, 2011, mark it well. For upon this day, in the centre of Leeds, a new chapter was written. Picture the scene; North Bar, for a decade or more the home of beer connoisseurs in Leeds, nay The North. These purveyors of fine beers from around the world have long been regarded as the epicentre of cultured beer drinking, and upon this hallowed ground the MJ Artisan Ales range was born.
Now, the subject of cask and keg is one that gets some people hot under the collar. Beer is meant to make people happy, not sad. We don’t want to offend anyone, we just want to make good beer; Nay great beer! Cask conditioned ale is our bread and butter, our malt and hops – we are proud of our success(es) in such a short space of time. Our abiding principle is to create beers of distinction. We brew with passion, skill and patience. And we want to give as many people as possible the opportunity to drink our hand-crafted ales. Anyone who read the 2011 Cask Ale Report (and let’s face it, what better bedtime reading is there?!) will have seen that ale is showing growth in a market heavily depressed. They will have gasped aloud at the section that stated that 10% of ale drinkers are under 24, and many of these don’t even have a beard! Now, in order to facilitate this encouraging growth, we all have a duty (let’s not get started on Beer Duty though) to offer as many people as possible the chance to drink our beers. Whilst the British pub is an institution rightly revered and deserving of protection and support, there are a huge amount of other outlets where people drink beer. Restaurants offer fantastic wine lists, but paltry beer selections, as do hotels (see previous blog: beer & food matching), and the boom of boutique independent city centre bars has been a massive success story during the recent downturn. Should the discerning city centre drinkers be denied the opportunity to drink beers of distinction? No of course not. Should they be happy to see bland, mass-produced beers as their only choice, when they can sample the best wines and spirits? No, of course not. And let’s not forget the immense pride the nation should have in its brewing tradition. Why is it that despite our rich ale history, American and Australian craft-brewers are able to corner a section of the UK beer market? (don't just take my word for it: http://www.morningadvertiser.co.uk/UK-brewers-could-learn-from-US-microbrewers) Don't you think that British Breweries should be championed for bringing remarkable, refreshing and flavoursome beer to the attention of the Great British public? “Proper” beer is becoming popular, and that can only be a good thing for the industry as a whole surely?! The method of dispense is purely a matter of practicality and a tool to be utilised rather than spurned in order to spread the good word. A lot of new beer drinkers are taking their first tentative steps towards drinking flavoursome beers, and realising that you can taste the care artisan brewers put into their brew, the fresh ingredients and lack of chemicals. The big boys (you know who you are!) have had your day in the sun/rain/snow; the day of the British Craft Brewery is dawning!
At night. In North Bar. On the 16th November.
For those of you that managed to make it down – a big thank you for coming with minds as open as your mouths, as you drank down the delicious drops that we have been making. For those of you who didn’t, it looked roughly like this, but with sound:
It was a great night, and the guys and gals of North were fantastic hosts. Our MJ Pale was as crisp and refreshing as we’d hoped, although between you and me, we might add some extra aroma hops in there in the future. The MJ Summit absolutely flew out and was by far and away the top tipple of the evening. Even our four cask beers on offer went down a storm (naturally – they are rather good don’tcha know!). Unfortunately we experienced some dispense issues with our developmental stout, MJ Fortis, and so we decided not to launch it on the night (I am very pleased to announce that we have rectified the issue, it tastes smashing, and it will be available at our forthcoming Beer Society Evening at the Brewery – 2nd December). Bear in mind that whilst all of our beers remain hand-brewed, using traditional techniques, we have developed this new brand and range specifically for keg dispense – there are a number of different variables that we have to consider that differ from those when serving ale from a cask. We have taken all of our award-winning experience in producing beers, and created a range of beers that we hope will appeal to all manner of drinkers, and hopefully convert a good many more to the wonders and joys of real British ale, whether cask conditioned, bottle conditioned, craft-kegged or simply bottled.
Beer must and always shall be the winner. And I’ll drink to that!