Having Saturdays to myself, one of the few/many advantages of Mrs Beerfairy working on a Saturday, I am, as our old friends the Soupdragons would have it, ‘free to do what I want at any old time’.
This oasis of leisure mainly involves catching up on boxsets and mucking about in the attic but not this weekend. As Christmas approaches my thoughts turn to gifts for those I love and care about and so I asked myself ‘what do I really want this year?’ World peace isn’t looking too promising, this extra stone ain’t going to shed itself and that number one hit continues to elude me so how about some beer ?
By fortuitous chance a colleague is tenuously linked to the Quirky brewers, producers and purveyors of the logically name Quirky Ales and, knowing of their brewery open day, I headed up to the backwoods of Garforth to say ‘hello’ and stock up.
Quirky was set up a couple of years by the affable Mick Quirk and Mark Speight and it really is a microbrewery in the purest sense of the word. They use a compact, well thought out 200-litre German set up and the entire operation, bar storage facilities, could easily fit in the back of my car. I exaggerate a little and I have got a big car but you get the picture.
The range of available beers, both bottle and barrel-conditioned, is solid and covers the basic ground. There is a hoppy one, a bitter one, a porter, a couple of blondes and a ruby. Ingredients are sourced locally when they can and the beer can be seen regularly in local pubs in the area. All decent brews and nothing I wouldn’t be happy to put in my glass on a regular basis.
Speaking with Mick he told me that, while retaining their core palette, they were looking to branch out into more esoteric flavours in the near future-a plan I can only endorse and encourage.
There are a lot of very good core beers out there already and it is a tough market to crack and all small breweries, I feel, need to offer something that will distinguish them from the dozen other bitters or hoppy beers that are next to them either on the shelf or the bar.
In turn, this led to us discussing the importance of marketing within the craft beer/micro-brewery world. Marketing is something I am very interested in. I am a great advocate of multi- platform marketing in the beer world but only if the beer is decent to start with. You are going to need very deep pockets to persuade people to drink a mediocre beer; did someone say Budweiser ?
Quirky has a good solid core selection but a more diverse range and racking up the marketing could help to move them forward and distinguish them from the myriad of small brewers that are springing up across the country.
All the best and continued success for 2016.