A new chapter...?
Plans were for the next brew, Gyle 14 to be a rebrew of Jahazi, one of my favourite beers to have made so far, and more notably to be the last beer cuckoo brewed at Offbeat before their planned change onto a smaller brewkit. Sadly, plans don't always work out as intended - in particular, faced with the prospect of ordering full bags of malt and hops in order to use less than half, and with no further brewing opportunity on the horizon, it simply isn't going to be economic. There may be ways to acquire the smaller quantities without paying a premium that cancels out the benefit, but there isn't time because the opportunity to brew is one week away, but the coffee would need commiting to today and that can't be done if the brew is in doubt.
So, sadly, the plan has been cancelled. Pointu, the Farmhouse Mild and (perhaps ironically) Gyle 13, looks like it was the last beer Otherton will be cuckoo brewing at Offbeat. But the story doesn't end there. Further plans to get set up on a new kit of our own aren't progressing at the moment, and so with a heavy heart I have to announce that Otherton Ales is now suspending brewing indefinitely. There's still a few casks and kegs to sell, a bottling run of the last two beers, and (eventually) some limited edition brett-aged DIPA still to come. And Otherton Ales will still continue to be "a thing", just with a different focus now. This isn't a decision taken lightly, and I take no joy from it, but unfortunately this is how it has to be.
At this point I have to say a big thankyou to Offbeat for letting the cuckoo into the nest. In an increasingly crowded brewing world it is a double-edged sword to let the competition use your facilities and I can only hope the disadvantages were outweighed by the benefits.
I'd also like to say a particular thankyou to some of the more active local Camra branch members without whose unparalled support, encouragement, enthusiasm and above all even-handed promotion of all the breweries in their area, the business of making and selling beer would be so much easier.* As I keep hearing us ungrateful brewers being told, we wouldn't be here if it wasn't for them. I look forward to them just as readily acknowledging their part in this brewing endeavour being here no longer...**
Switching the sarcasm back off, to all those who provided the impetus to start on this brewing adventure, or the confidence to carry on, thank you all too. It's been a great journey.
As I said earlier, Otherton Ales will continue, and there have already been discussions about linking up with others to do some beery events in the future. We'll also continue to be the business behind the Birmingham Beer Bash, and who knows there may be collaboration brews or other opportunities beyond that, and maybe more personally a chance to enjoy what's going on in the beer scene around me and consider observing and commenting a bit more. Plus the door isn't completely closed on getting back to brewing in the future, but at things stand that doesn't look likely anytime soon.
So, please take the opportunities to have a try of the last few beers as they appear in some of the usual outlets and a couple of upcoming beer festivals. More importantly, keep drinking good beer, support your local breweries and those doing great things around the country and the world, and above all, enjoy the great experience this magnificent beverage offers!
* there are also countless great people in Camra, and I hope that the good ones will appreciate I'm not talking about them here, and I hope even more that they carry on doing great work in trying to improve what this organisation does!
** I'm under no illusion that they will, and it isn't the main reason, but Crewe & South Cheshire Camra can rest assured they are certainly a part of the reason.