LIKE. To say that I like beer is a huge understatement. My humility stops me going as far as saying I live and breathe it, but my family and friends would suggest otherwise. When I started to write this blog and explore exactly where it came from I immediately started to think about my first pint, to see if reliving the experience would paint a picture of those very first steps of my journey to where I am today but, in all honesty, that first memory was pretty underwhelming. Growing up with the cursed baby-face I was born with (although now I’m approaching my 40’s I see it as somewhat of a blessing!) being of age, and being able to prove it, was a must. The excitement of actually being able to order a pint created a sense of panic. Pointing at the first thing I saw I proceeded to a huge, excited gulp only to be quite disappointed. This wasn’t my first experience with beer though, and probably explains why I was as disappointed as I was. I knew more about beer than I thought.
As a kid, I spent a lot of time in Germany. My Dad looked after military estate, and not only would he find himself out there working but he also developed a love for all things Germanic. Warm, soft pretzels, bratwurst slathered in curry ketchup and a pinch of mustard powder and, of course, beer. My family weren’t big drinkers in terms of quantity, but quality was big for them. Watching him order beers and wines, looking through the list with a fine tooth comb, asking questions and tasting to find the ideal accompaniment to his meal was lesson one for me. My friends call me picky, but I just, like my Father, appreciated quality. The other thing to mention about Germany is the drinking age. From age 14 minors can engage in something called ‘beleitetes trinken’ or accompanied drinking. Essentially, a drink of wine or beer in a public setting in the presence of a responsible adult is allowed. Now I’m pretty sure the owner of the local restaurant might have bent this rule slightly with a cheeky little half of Weisse with my favourite jaegerschnitzel, but the long and short of it was that I had a beer education long before many of my peers – somewhat subconsciously at the time.
So, I was cursed with an appreciation, or rather and expectancy that all beer should be as good as locally brewed Helles or Weisse and I have to say that not much else did it for me. I’d bring back as much as I could from every trip and try and make it last until the next. Nothing else compared. That was until around 2015 when I discovered craft beer, and it opened my eyes. Up until that point quality, simplicity and tradition were words that piqued my interest, but craft beer added a whole new dimension. Creativity. I wasn’t working in the industry at the time, but that moment kickstarted a chain of events that has ultimately led me to this point. I get to talk about beer, write about beer, drink beer, champion beer and then, once at home, inevitably relax with a beer.
Like is a huge understatement, and that is something that can be said for many people that I work with, talk too and share a beer with. From everyone here at UnBarred, brewers at other breweries all over the country, beer fans that visit our Taproom, the great people who grow and supply our hops and malts and the fanatics that write, talk, record podcasts and review beers. This is what this beer is all about, a ‘hat tip’ to everyone that is as obsessed as I am and wants everyone else to know it! A coming together of creatives in and around the beer industry, this unique collaboration with Same Again? & Women’s Brew podcasts, One Minute Beer Review, and BarthHaas X celebrates the beer lovers out there by creating a real beer lovers beer!
A big 7.2% NEIPA style, BarthHass X gave us access to some incredible hop products including Azacca BBC, Citra along with Bru-1 & Galaxy Spectrum. These innovative hop products have been developed to enhance performance in each stage of the brewing process and maximize flavour – and the proof really is in the pudding! Like & Subscribe smacks you right in the chops with a big tropical punch. It’s intense, but well balanced and incredibly drinkable considering the big ABV and aromas. Intense, overripe pineapple is the order of the day amongst a melange of fruits that keep on coming, as if you’re chewing on Mr. Wonkas chewing gum. We were blown away on first taste, as were all involved and we spoke about it in length over a tasting during the recording of A Womans Brew’s latest podcast.
I hope you like this beer as much as we do.
SUBSCRIBE Digging out a mash tun is hard work. When the temperature outside is an unseasonal 29 degrees Celcius in spite of September having already taken a bite out of the year, it can be backbreaking. Luckily, on the Like and Subscribe brew day, UnBarred’s lead brewer - the inimitable Gary Brandon - had some able assistance. Joanne and Tori from A Woman’s Brew podcast shifted a fair few spadefuls, but it was 1 Minute Beer Review’s Dan Phillips who really put his heart into the work.
Unlike the rest of us, Dan had never been involved with a brew at a commercial brewery before. As a successful TikTokker with over 2000 beer reviews and 34,000 followers, he’s certainly no newcomer to beer, but his excitement at being part of a brew day was plain to see. He wanted to be involved at every part of the process, needing to understand, assist, discuss, and really get his hands dirty. I don’t think I saw the smile leave his face all day. Later, he described the experience as the best day of his life after the birth of his child…and I’m still not sure if he was joking!
For those of us who work around the peripheries of beer, whether we’re writing, podcasting, or producing videos, it’s that ‘Dan-like’ excitement that keeps us going. It’s often said that there’s no money in brewing, and the same could be said – though even louder - for creating content around it. Though we may earn money through some of our projects, it’s very common to be involved in producing work for fun, for love, or through sheer enthusiasm for the topic.
My new podcast, Same Again?, is one of those non-paying projects, a side hustle without the hustle. Before I became a beer writer, I spent more than two decades working in frontline mental health, and for a long time I’ve wanted to bring together both parts of my professional life. Same Again? is that wish fulfilled. It’s a six-part, documentary-style podcast exploring the sometimes complex relationships between beer, pubs, and mental health. From the impact of alcohol on anxiety, to the role pubs can play in improving our mental health; from getting help when we feel suicidal, to exploring positive mental health initiatives within the beer world, this podcast attempts to provide informed answers, and spark ongoing discussion about this important subject. It's fewer than 6 hours of audio but is the result of weeks of hard work – researching, interviewing, transcribing, writing, recording and editing - nd it’s been driven by a personal need to create it, and a real love of the drink we all enjoy. A ‘Dan-like’ enthusiasm, so to speak.
But it’s also been driven by a belief that beer – and the place in which we gather to drink it – has the power to bring us together, to create community, and form the kind of support that’s often lacking elsewhere. Given this, having the chance to collaborate with others from right across this community – 1 Minute Beer Review, A Woman’s Brew, BarthHaas X and UnBarred – was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down. Because that’s what beer is all about: coming together, forming new connections, cementing old friendships, helping out with a full mash tun on a steaming hot day, and going away with a Dan-like smile on your face.
When you taste this beer, hopefully some of that spirit of collaboration and togetherness comes through. It’s certainly a beer that speaks of the fun we had making it, and it even drags some of that late summer sunshine into the rapidly intruding grey of autumn. We’d love it if you drank it whilst listening to or watching some of our content. But we’d love it even more if you drank it whilst making your own connections and having your own fun.
Just don’t forget to like and subscribe.
Written by Matthew Lincoln (UnBarred) & Emma Inch