I see a Rainbow Rising… #RainbowProject16

rainbow-breweries

This weekend sees the latest instalment in what has become one of the most exciting beer events in the modern beer world, the International Rainbow Project. Last night Siren Craft Brew had the beer Twitterati glued to their screens during #CraftBeerHour as one by one they announced the beers that each collaborative brewery pairing had created, which all of you I’m sure will agree sound amazing. I’ve collated the best bits for you here, along with various links to brewery blogs where available, plus a bit of insight into the project from the Rainbow Project website for those of you who have not yet had the pleasure. 

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International Rainbow Project

The Rainbow Project began in 2013 and was initially the brainchild of Ryan Witter-Merithew (then Head Brewer at Siren Craft Brew). Since its humble beginnings this celebration of collaborative and innovative brewing has become a key fixture in the annual beer calendar, with 2016 being our most eagerly awaited yet.

The International Rainbow Project pairs seven of the best breweries in the United Kingdom with seven of the best breweries from a chosen country or region each year. Each pairing is randomly drawn a colour of the rainbow which is used to inspire a collaborative brew. This year we’re hugely excited to be working with seven of the most exciting breweries in New Zealand. Here are how the pairings and colours worked out:

On September 17th 2016 we’ll be releasing 1,500 mixed cases, which include all seven of this year’s beers along with a souvenir Rainbow Project 2016 glass. The mixed cases will be available from official brewery party launch events, which this year are being held at Siren Craft BrewMagic Rock and Beavertown.

THE BEERS!

Red: Beavertown and Parrot Dog – Universal Mind. 10.5% Adambier, aged in Marsala barrels. Read the story here..

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Orange: Burning Sky and Liberty – Descent into the Maelstrom. 6.66% Eclectic Borderless Beer. Story not yet available, I’ll add it as and when it is..

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Yellow: Magic Rock and Fork Brewing –  The Upside Down. 6% Sour Tropical Fruit Witbier Hybrid. Magic Rock blog details here..

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Green: Hawkshead and Yeastie Boys – Kai Moana Gose – Full story:

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Blue: Wild Beer Co and 8 Wired Brewing – Black & Blue. 5% Raw + Charred + Barrel Aged Sour. < Yes – Raw! Wild Beer story here..

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Indigo: Siren Craft Brew and Garage Beer – Blacklight Banana. Stout with Banana, Molasses and Barrel Aged Coffee. Read more here..

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Violet: Partizan Brewing – Royal Ale. 8.5% Barley Wine with Riesling grape juice. Read here all about the beer, plus the reasons why this as you may have noticed, is not a collaboration brew..

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Quite a lot to take in, but hopefully interesting. As you can imagine we are trying to get hold of a few Rainbow Project packs in the shop, which include one each of the beers and a commemorative glass, nothing confirmed as yet, but keep an eye on social media for details. We are ourselves hot-footing it up to the Magic Rock Tap as soon as we close on Saturday afternoon, we hope to see some of you there.

Full details of all the launch events are listed HERE. Cheers

Times, they are a changin’

We are currently enjoying a vibrant and ever expanding beer scene and it may seem to be going slightly against the grain to want to be “just” a great beer shop. So I wanted to write a few words here to give our perspective and the reasons why we are trying to be exactly that.

When I first started looking at a place in which Otter’s Tears could flourish, lots of things were in the mix for consideration. Location, footfall, space, rent and rates, general overheads as well as things like security, shop-fit and obviously stock. We considered Queen Street for a long time before taking the plunge, it didn’t necessarily tick all the boxes, but we took a ‘build it and they will come” approach and went for it. We trusted that people would travel to what is perhaps considered one of the quieter retail locations in the city, allowing us to build our reputation by having a tip-top range of exceptional beers.

shopThe biggest single barrier to get over was the awkward retail floor space, with the shop narrowing towards the back and a large stairwell that pretty much made one wall redundant. Pressing on, we worked really hard to make the beer shopping experience comfortable and relaxed with what space we had.

Having done our own fair share of travelling the country, in our minds we really wanted to replicate the fantastic beer shops frequented over many years such as Beer Ritz in Leeds, Beermoth in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, Cotteridge Wines in Birmingham and Utobeer in Borough Market London to name but a few. Where in their beginnings at least for some, bottle sales were the primary focus.

During our research, we’d also seen some establishments where customers drinking onsite made perusing the beers on the shelves really difficult.  With that in mind, we took the decision to design the space upstairs for predominantly retail purposes, the idea then to open our cellar up at weekends for the “on-site” drinking experience. Having trialled this for several months, and after taking on board customer feedback and experiences, we found folk simply didn’t want to drink downstairs that much, which then made shopping tricky for our other customers.

This brings me to the real point here. When I was planning and opened Otter’s Tears, I wanted to build a fantastic “beer shop” and not a bar. The aim, to offer an on-site tasting option, but keeping a relaxed shopping experience at the core of what we do best.

We do realise that in the last 18 months or so people have become used to getting more from a bottle shop. They have become more and more like micro-pubs but offering a huge choice to a new beer thirsty public who are fast realising that choice “is” out there. We like that experience too and love what places like Bottle Craft, The Bottle Lab and the Hopwater Cellar have done locally, but sadly it just doesn’t work well in the space we have. We have given this much thought and in order to try and strike a balance we have been trialling no drinking on site at the weekend. Saturday has proven to be our busiest day for off sales, and the trial seems to have worked well so far.

We have therefore decided to continue this permanently on Saturdays, with the drinking in facility remaining during weekdays as more of a “drink whilst you browse” offering to see how that goes and take things from there.

In terms of on-site drinking, our aim is to focus on more regular events, beer launches etc. We GDFV5374have two great breweries already lined up and a leg wobbling Christmas beer tasting in the diary. Plus we now have the option to take fresh draught beer home in one of our beautiful stainless steel growlers.

I really hope that our customers understand the reasons behind these decisions and continue to support us here. It may seem madness on the outside for a new business to seem to be turning custom away, this though is purely designed to make sure we flourish in the right direction, as a speciality beer shop.

With all the above in mind, we have decided to tweak our opening hours to that more in-keeping with a retail proposition and to allow us to be more flexible event wise going forward. These come into effect as of today, Tuesday 13th September 2016.

Monday: CLOSED

Tuesday: 12 – 19:00

Wednesday: 12 – 19:00

Thursday: 12 – 19:00

Friday: 12 – 19:00

Saturday: 11:30 – 17:30

Sunday: CLOSED

Of course we shall continue to keep an eye on how things are going. We want to evolve as a business, and to keep giving you the best experience that we can. Please keep the feedback coming! 

Cheers

Phil & Rachel

Stone Brewing Berlin

STONE BREWING SPECIAL

Stone Brewing have long been a go-to staple for any serious craft beer drinker interested in what good American brewing can offer, with beers like Ruination, Cali-Belgique and the oh-so subtly named Arrogant Bastard snapped up if found. In recent years though, they seemed to lose their edge slightly in a market with so many UK brewers bringing their own super fresh hoppy IPA’s in particular to the table. I’m not saying that Stone dropped their game at all, but when we have so much brewing talent here, it just made sense for lupulus-hungry beer geeks to snap up UK hop-bombs brewery fresh, than those that had potentially sat on a boat for several weeks.

Back in 2014 though, Stone announced it would be spending an estimated $25 million to open a brewery in the city of Berlin, Germany. In addition to the brewhouse, the two-acre location will include a packaging and distribution centre, a Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens restaurant and a Stone Company Store.

Of course, the upside of this is that beers brewed in Europe, now hit the UK shelves and fridges much faster and a whole lot fresher, so as soon as I heard we could get some I was there like a shot.

About Stone Brewing..

“Founded by Greg Koch and Steve Wagner, Stone Brewing has come a long way since opening up in San Diego, California, in 1996. We have been listed on the Inc. 500 | 5000 Fastest Growing Private Companies list 11 times, and have been called the “All-time Top Brewery on Planet Earth” by BeerAdvocate magazine twice. Stone has also donated more than $3 million dollars to charity.

As the tenth-largest craft brewer in the U.S. and with our breweries in Richmond, Virginia & Berlin, Germany, we join artisanal brewers across the world in the quest to show the public that there are more…and better…choices beyond the world of industrial beer.”

Stone Berlin..

“After looking at more than 130 sites in nine different countries, we found the perfect site for Stone’s European expansion. Built in 1901, this former gasworks facility resides on an amazing property with industrial and historic elements.

Stone’s Berlin campus includes a main hall with a 3.200 square meter Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Berlin and a retail store selling Stone beers and merchandise. The main hall also includes a 100 hectolitre custom stainless steel brewhouse and a 10 hectolitre experimental system. In addition, our campus includes a 2.000 square meter packaging and distribution hall for filling, packing and storage as well as a 155 square meter event space in a historic train repair building situated among expansive gardens. The gardens welcome guests to unwind in corners, nooks and gathering spaces created using the natural elements of the space and repurposed building materials.”

What we stand for..

“Known for our bold, flavourful and largely hop-centric beers, we have earned a reputation for brewing outstanding, unique beers while maintaining an unwavering commitment to sustainability, business ethics, philanthropy and the art of brewing. 

We view fellow craft breweries as compatriots, not competitors, and embrace collaboration, integrity and quality as the hallmarks of our business.”

The name and the gargoyle..

“During a routine business meeting as Greg and Steve looked over a few succinct names they had scribbled down on a piece of paper, Greg saw the word “stone” and said, “How about Stone Brewing?” The name (and its connotations—a stone is strong, natural and small yet powerful) stuck.

The gargoyle came next. Besides being carved from stone, it represents the European inspiration behind some of our first beers and is a guardian symbol meant to ward off evil spirits. In our case…cheap ingredients, pasteurisation and chemical additives…the modern-day evil spirits of beer!”

THE BEERS

Go To IPA 4.7% 

“For Stone Go To IPA, we embrace our hop obsession by using hop bursting, a technique wherein an irrational amount of hops is added during the final brewing phase to bring out vibrantly hoppy flavours and aromas while also imparting a burst of desirably mellow bitterness. The result is a session IPA that delivers all the fruity, piney character of a much bigger beer.”

STONE IPA 6.9%

“This is the IPA that initiated our reputation for hops and exposed a budding world of craft beer enthusiasts to our unique brewing style. Distinguished by bright, hop-driven flavours, this is the IPA that launched generations of hop fanatics in the U.S. We now present our hoppy standard-bearer to those in Europe eager to worship at the altar of the almighty hop.”

Cali-Belgique IPA 6.9%

“Think of this beer as Stone IPA’s identical twin raised in a Belgian culture. Literally. A strain of Belgian yeast adds tropical fruit, bubblegum and spice notes, creating a complex and surprising combination of flavours in tandem with the beer’s citrusy hop character. The gentle sweetness from the yeast also lends new depth to the bright hoppiness of our flagship IPA.”

Ruination Double IPA 8.5%

“We craft this big, bold and hugely aromatic West Coast style double IPA to celebrate all characteristics of the hop — its beauty and poetry, its boldness and might. Using modern methods of dry hopping and hop bursting, we squeeze every last drop of piney, citrusy, tropical essence from the hops that give Stone Ruination Double IPA its incredible character.”

Arrogant Bastard Ale 7.2%

“This is an aggressive beer. You probably won’t like it. It’s quite doubtful that you have the taste or sophistication to be able to appreciate an ale of this quality and depth. Arrogant Bastard Ale has revelled in its unprecedented and uncompromising celebration of intensity since 1997 and will never pander to the lowest common denominator. There have been many nods to Arrogant Bastard Ale…even outright attempts to copy it…but only one can ever embody the true nature of Liquid Arrogance.”

On sale now at Otter’s Tears, so come get em, unless of course….

“YOU’RE NOT WORTHY!”