Before I got behind the bar in my local pub I honed my skills in a brewery bar on an industrial estate. It wasn’t pretty. The units roller door went up when the weather was good. But it was essentially a couple of picnic benches in a unit where brewing, racking, or bottling may have just finished.
This didn’t matter to our small but ardent army of fans though. It was all about the beer. Either the newest brews of our own, or guests, mainly from Belgium, in bottle and keg. It only opened on Fridays and Saturdays, and put a line at the end of many drinkers’ working weeks.
So I have a lot of sympathy for Nomadic Beers boss Katie Marriott, who has worked up some keyboard warriors with photos of her beer yard. She tweeted: “I would just like to thank the people who have taken the time out of their day to make negative comments about our beer yard from a couple of pictures. We’re a brewery. In an industrial estate. We share our yard with 3 other businesses. We are doing our best with what we’ve got.”
In case you’re wondering what this den of iniquity looks like, here’s the scene of Bacchanalian horror. Look away now if you’re easily offended by such sights.
Photograph: Nomadic Beers
Seriously, critics? If the site of random brewery tap seating at a venue where hugely popular and extremely high rated beers are made doesn’t excite you, you have no soul. This is an independent local business, trying to make some extra income after a sod of a year. In the US, drinkers don’t think twice about heading to an industrial venue to enjoy a fresh pint. And look — Nomadic even has cushions on its cask seats. It’s home from home.
Greg Mulholland, director of the Campaign for Pubs, replied to Katie’s tweet, saying: “Seriously?! WTF! It’s a lovely experience, for goodness sake breweries are industrial! I love the vibe you have, the family like it too. Ignore such nonsense Katie, what you’ve done there beer & venue wise is great!”
A Friday night session at Pipeline Brewing, Cornwall
Interesting, too, that that comes from a pub champion. I feel brewery taps are as important part of our drinking scene as pubs and deserve equal support. It’s a great way to meet the brewer and find out more about their beer range. One of my nearest is Pipeline, St Agnes, which is a young brewery, quite under the radar, but producing top quality modern pales and IPAs. You have to walk past various small business units to get there — engineers, mechanics, retailers — most of whom are still working as the brewery opens at 4pm on a Friday. But that’s all part of the attraction.
It’s great to drink in a smart bar or a well-run cosy pub, but beer at source in an industrial unit is part of the modern beer landscape. We may not be a nation of shopkeepers any more, but we’re certainly a nation of small brewers and this is a great way to support them!