Words - Matthew Curtis | Photos - Matthew Curtis, Dianne Tanner & Claire M. Bullen
I’ve been busy recently, like real busy. If I haven’t been writing I’ve been travelling and if I haven’t been doing either of those then I’ve been at my day job, thinking about writing or travelling. In the last few weeks I’ve visited Leeds, Manchester (twice), Belgium and Colorado. I’ve been to breweries, beer cities and beer festivals – It’s safe to say I have a lot to write about but I've been struggling to find the time.
The main reason for a month of silence on Total Ales is that, although I've been writing more than ever, it's all been for other people. The benefit of this is that I’ve been able to use some of the money I’ve been earning from writing to pay Total Ales’ first contributor, Claire M. Bullen. Claire has already put together two fantastic pieces on Philly Beer Week and Freelance Cheesemonger Ned Palmer respectively. It's great having her on board and I can't wait to see what else she brings to the table.
Rest assured there is plenty of great content we’re working on, not only for Total Ales but also for some of the best and most exciting beer websites and magazines around. To show that we've not been sitting on our laurels, here's a quick run down on what's been happening these past few months.
Hop Burns & Black // No More Heroes
A couple of months ago I started writing a column for killer Peckham beer, hot sauce and record store Hop Burns & Black. The idea behind this column is that we shout about beers' often forgotten unsung heroes – hence the title. This week No More Heroes goes live at a sold out event in store, with all the money we raise being donated to Mind, the mental health charity. If you missed out on tickets you can still donate here and you can read my latest piece on Chorlton Brewing Co’s Farmhouse IPA right here.
Ferment // Brussels Beer City
It’s hard to believe that I started writing for Ferment eight months ago. This was my first regular column and I’m really happy with how it’s developing. A lot of these articles would’ve probably been posts on Total Ales so it’s great to see them in print and reaching a wider audience. The mag itself is going from strength to strength each month with great articles, photos and illustrations. I’m immensely proud of my latest spread, I think it's some of my best work. It’s about my favourite bars in Brussels, inspired by a pub-crawl organised by Paul Walsh from Belgian Beer & Food magazine. You can read it here.
Good Beer Hunting // Drie Fonteinen, Boon & Cloudwater
You have no idea how much of an honour it is to be part of the Good Beer Hunting team. GBH is the website that pushed me (and still pushes me) to write better and pick up a camera in the first place, so it’s a real privilege to be a contributor. It’s been a while since GBH published my first piece about BrewDog but I’m happy to say my next piece has been published today. It’s about what has recently become my favourite beer style, Geuze. The catalyst for which might have been a visit to the Drie Fonteinen and Boon breweries on one incredibly hot day in August. I’m also working on plenty of other long reads for GBH. A piece on Manchester’s Cloudwater will be hot on the heels of todays article.
Hop Hideout // Sour Power
A while back I took my monthly Bottle Club, usually held at the Duke’s Head in Highgate up to Sheffield’s Hop Hideout. While I was there co-owner/founder and fellow beer writer Jules Gray asked me to pen a piece on sour beers. You can read this piece here and if you ever find yourself in Sheffield be sure to check out this awesome little beer shop.
Original Gravity // Beer Reviews
This month I joined the team of contributors for another great independent beer magazine, Original Gravity. I reviewed a couple of great (and incredibly strong) beers from London’s Weird Beard and Sweden’s Omnipollo. You can read the latest issue online for free right here.
Netzpiloten // Beer Photography
At the recent Beer Bloggers Conference in Brussels I gave a five-minute presentation on improving your beer photography. After the talk I was approached by Tobias Schwarz of German website Netzpiloten who asked if I could write the presentation up so that it could be translated to German and published on his site. You can read the article (in German, obvs) here – although if you’d like to read it in English please drop me a line and I’ll happily email it to you.
The Dukes Head // Darker Days II
The string of events myself and my friends at The Duke’s Head in Highgate did for London Beer City nearly killed us but that was ages ago and now we’re ready for more. One of the first events I ever hosted at Duke’s was called Darker Days, a celebration of dark beers. This year we thought we’d write the sequel and this time we’re bringing Siren Craft Brew along for the ride. Tickets have already sold out but you can read about the event with envy right here.
Brewdog Birmingham // So you want to be a Beer Blogger?
My last event of 2015 will see me head up to Brewdog Birmingham to give a talk about beer writing and starting your own blog. As you can see from the above it's working out quite well for me, so I’m looking forward to talking about what I did to achieve this. I think I’m more excited about this talk than any I’ve done in the past. It’s already sold out but you can read a little bit about what this afternoon will entail here. If it goes well I hope to take this talk on the road next year.
IndyManBeerCon // Independent Manchester Beer People
I decided not to review this years IndyManBeerCon because so many other people have already done just that (it was literally the best though.) Instead I decided to ask a whole bunch of people what they thought and stick it together with lovely photos of their faces. This will hit Total Ales in just a few days time.
Mondo Brewing Company // Battersea
Way back in May, before all the crazy shit above happened, I visited the brand spanking new Mondo Brewery in Battersea. I started writing an article about them and it’s still not finished but it will be soon and I look forward to sharing it on here in the next few weeks.
Northern Monk Brew Co // Leeds
Without question, Leeds has the greatest bar scene in the UK, period. It’s also home to one of our most innovative breweries, Northern Monk. I recently spent a day with owner and founder Russell Bisset and head brewer Brian Dickson and was blown away by their plans for the future. I’m excited to tell you about this forward thinking brewery very soon.
The Great American Beer Festival Vs. The Great British Beer Festival
This year I went to both the GABF and GBBF and found… well that would be telling. Expect a no holds barred bloody fight to the death. May the best beer festival win. I can assure you I had a better time than these gentlemen appeared to, though.
John Legnard // Blue Moon Brewing
Remember way back when I wrote an article called Blue Fucking Moon? Perhaps not, but when I got offered the chance to meet and interview Blue Moon head brewmaster John Legnard I jumped at the chance. It was great to chat with John and gain some perspective on his side of the industry. I can’t wait to write this one up. I also like to think I've grown up a lot since that post.
Boulder, Colorado // Travel Diary
When I was on my travels in Colorado last month I spent the day in Boulder. The town has a different vibe to the others on the front range – a beer micro culture within a beer culture. I also visited the incredible new Avery brewing facility which cemented my opinion that they are one of the worlds greatest. At Avery I also managed to spend over $50 just on four-ounce tasters before I 'accidentally' got wasted on 18% barrel aged coffee beer.
The Future //
So as you can see, there’s lots happening but there's even more on the horizon. Something about writing about beer gives me unbridled joy. I still get the jitters just before I hit the publish button, each and every damn time. I intend to push this as hard as I can - and if you guys enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy creating it then that's all the better. This isn’t about seeing how deep the rabbit hole goes though. No, this is about making sure this rocketship has enough energy to break orbit on launch day. To be continued…