Sunday sees the 5th anniversary of the first Offbeat brew at our original home up the street in the basement of the Borough Arms. Much has changed since then, many new beers have been brewed on our own bigger kit, we’ve expanded in to 3 industrial units, we’ve won a few awards, my core staff are still with me and totally fab and we still love what we do.
The beer market keeps changing and shifting. There’s loads more really creative brewing going on and I enjoy playing with the Oddities and trying out new styles like the sours and saisons. I think there will be more along these lines across the UK as the hop shortage really kicks in. Learning more about kegging and opening up new avenues for our beers has been interesting – some styles simply work better on keg and a bit colder. One of my winter projects is to do a proper lager (a strawberry black pepper one was suggested – thanks Rachel!) – maybe try it both on cask and keg.
Out Of Step IPA used to be my favourite, then Dotty DIPA took the crown but now Disfunctional Functional IPA reins supreme for my palate. Hopefully Dotty will be back one day, we missed out on getting all the hops we need for but she’s not gone forever. We will always continue to have a range of beers hopefully for all tastes, some light, some dark, some in the middle, some fruit, some wheat and some just downright weird.
The BeerBoxBites side of the business has been fun. I love our little pizza oven, there are days when the food orders are a bit queued up and I wish she was a bit bigger but I’m really proud of the work David, Brian and I have put in to it. Middlewich Folk and Boat was a baptism of fire (ha ha) but people kept coming back on different days for our pizzas and word was getting round about how good they are so we really got off to a good start. We’re hoping to do more with the mobile bars and pizza oven – we’ve setup a couple of birthdays and events in Crewe and at the moment we’re in the process of talking to the amazing creative people of One Red Shoe about getting the beer trailer decorated. They’ve had a very vague design brief so can’t wait to see what ideas they come up with!
Letting the Otherton Ales cuckoo in to our nest has been…interesting! David has a wealth of knowledge that far exceeds mine and has been teaching us a load of stuff along the way with things like kegging but this is his first real independent commercial brewing venture. I have learned to be out of the building when he’s brewing because there’s too much bickering over “That’s not how we do it!” but he’s a fab addition to our setup and his beers always fly out. His support with Offbeat is huge and I’m forever grateful to him for it.
#FirstyFriday reopened with a boom in February this year – the space gained from knocking together the two rooms and sometimes having bars in each has given us a fantastic entertaining space. As the winter draws in we batten down the hatches, turn the heating up and recommend warm clothes but we will still keep providing a great night of beer, entertainment and beer blotter grub. We’re back next Friday, 6th November and then again on Friday 4th December and 18th December for the annual Crazy Christmas drinks.
For the first time ever we’re trying a little Christmas Fayre on Thursday 3rd December between 4pm and 9pm – all the details are on a public Facebook page so even if you’re avoiding social media you should be able to see it. Click here for the page. It’s still in the planning stages but so far we’ve a number of stalls booked in with some lovely gifts, the bar will be open and Hayley will be singing. It’s the evening before #FirstyFriday so an opportunity to preview new beers and it’s very family friendly night. We might even have a bit of celebrity type chef on cooking duties but more about that soon!
There’s been a bit of collab brewing going on the past year but I must give special mention to Jim and the Phantom Raspberry Blower of Salford Town. We dry hopped and added a load of raspberries to the cask as an exclusive for the Salford Beer Festival – Jim is a truly awesome, lovely guy and I’m hoping one day he’ll forgive me for being about the only brewer who’s not making his charity beer festival. It’s well worth giving a look in and if you miss out on tickets this year, make sure you take note of it for next year.
Barley’s Angels – I’m sorry, I’ve been very neglectful of you. I need to put a firm plan in place and we will get this up and running properly. Getting more women to learn about and try beer is something I’m passionate about. It’s not about excluding men so much as creating a friendly, non intimidating environment to ask questions and go from “I don’t like beer” to “Oooooh I love that one!”.
Cheese Night…I get asked about this every #FirstyFriday! We will do it again, it was awesome! Keep an eye on our numerous social media applications for updates.
I think that’s about everything and less than 1000 words too. Michelle x