We’ve got five years, what a surprise!

AleselA 5th BirthdayIt’s our fifth birthday!

We’ve been selling great beer for five years now.

It’s strange – sometimes it seems like way longer than that, sometimes it’s hard to believe it’s been five years.

A lot of things have changed since we started AleselA and a lot of things have stayed exactly the same.

We’ve done pretty well to make it to five years if you think about it, or if you know what goes on behind the scenes. From the get-go AleselA has been completely self-funded. We’ve never had a bank loan, been awarded any grants, no crowd funding, nothing. We’re quite proud of that. It’s been tough going at several points in the past five years but being independent has enabled us to stick closely to what we think is the best way forward for AleselA. Also, being skint is a great motivator on those days when you wonder why you’re doing this!

As well as not receiving any outside funding, we’ve ruffled a few feathers along the way too. An early falling out with a supplier taught us a few things –

  • Trust your gut instincts when it comes to people. If you perceive someone as a complete bell-end on first meeting, stick with that perception.
  • Amateur snake oil salesman (or as my dear old granny used to call them “plausible bastards”) don’t like it when you point out their faults or complain about rubbish service.
  • Despite the initial fallout of….a falling out, it’s not the end of the world, or your business.
  • Empty barrels make the most noise.

Indeed, this particular incident actually improved things for us eventually. We had to think outside the box, explore different supply routes. The silver lining was that we weren’t chasing the same sales as every other bottle shop in our area, and that gave us an edge.  We had to actively seek out breweries to buy from, and in some cases, drive there and collect the stock ourselves. This led to us being the first in our area to stock names like Cromarty and Tempest and the first to stock some of the, now ubiquitous, names like Beavertown, Siren and Weird Beard.

We’ve ruffled other feathers too. There’s an awful lot of bandwagon jumping goes on and there are an awful lot of “experts” out there. Whether it’s business in general, brewing, running a bar, you’ll find a wealth of “expert” opinion out there in the blogosphere and on social media. Most of these “experts” are blaggers. (Not a typo: there are some very good, well written and informative blogs on a litany of subjects. However these tend not to be the “experts” who are more into blagging than blogging i.e. sucking up and spouting nonsense in the hope of getting free stuff. Blaggers)

Blaggers don’t like it when you point out that they’re full of it either. Or expose their blagging.

Of course recently we’ve seen the rise of the “Beer Communicator”. The less said about that the better.

On a more positive note, over the last five years, we’ve been to some beautiful parts of Scotland and England, visiting breweries and going to festivals. The research part of this job really is one of the best things about it! We’ve forged working relationships with some great people who’ve helped us get where we are today. We’ve had five years of modest but positive growth of the business. Branching out into the wholesale side of things has been a challenge (there’s still only two of us) but again, it’s pushed us to keep moving forward, try new things, work out better ways to do things and not to take no for an answer.

We’ve got some pretty wonderful customers. Some have been with us since the very beginning; some are recent converts to good beer.  We honestly appreciate each and every one of them. Even the ones who place an order on the website, move house the next day to a completely different part of the country, don’t alert either ourselves or the courier company to that small fact and then phone up two days later to complain that their beer hasn’t arrived……..at their new address that they hadn’t told anyone about. Even that one.  From the start we decided that customer service was going to be top priority. We’ve had our share of rubbish customer service over the years and we were determined that we would always go the extra mile for our customers. That has cost us dear at times. Like when courier firms go through a spate of mangling packages and pretty much every order you send out for a couple of weeks is just a mass of soggy cardboard and broken glass by the time the customer gets it. Not good enough. Our problem, not the customer’s though. Refund and/or replace, and apologise. We think that no nonsense approach has worked and been appreciated.

What does the next five years hold for AleselA? Hopefully more growth and expansion, building on the foundations we’ve laid so far. We’ve started the ball rolling on importing from some European breweries so that’s a whole new avenue to explore.  We intend to increase the wholesale side of the business, adding more breweries’ beer to our list, looking for new and interesting stock.  Pretty much doing what we’ve been doing for the past five years but getting bigger and doing things better. We’ve still a lot to learn, a lot to improve and a long way to go.

Five years ago, and a few times since, some thought and said that we wouldn’t make it til the end of the year.

Just shows you what “experts” know, doesn’t it?

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Cromarty/Buxton collab beer

Cromarty/Buxton collabBit of a “Dream Team” collaboration brew arrived in our warehouse today. A collaboration between arguably two of the best breweries in the UK at the moment, Cromarty Brewing Co and Buxton Brewery Company. North and South combine to produce a mixed berry, rye porter. “Comin’ Thro’ the Rye” it’s called, and weighs in at 7.4%abv. It’s a bit of a rarity so it’s one bottle per customer, first come, first served – go!
http://www.alesela.co.uk/shop/CromartyBrewing

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Cloudwater – DIPA v3

Cloudwater DIPA v3We’ve shamelessly jumped on a well-hyped bandwagon with this next beer. There’s been quite a stir in beer circles of late about Cloudwater Brew Co‘s “DIPA v3” Cloudwater themselves say they “devoted 1/3 of our brewery to making this one beer, our juiciest DIPA yet, featuring enhanced Citra pellets backed up by the Vermont yeast.” 9.0%abv but first reports say it drinks well below that. This beer has been pretty much rationed so we’ve only managed to get one case – that means it’s one per customer unfortunately. First come, first served.
http://www.alesela.co.uk/shop/Cloudwater

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Cloudwater Brewery

CloudwaterWe’ve got some rather lovely offerings from Cloudwater Brew Co for you lovely people. Three of their beers in 330ml bottles. We have “Session IPA E431” – session strength IPA, dry hopped with Experimental 431 hops, backed up by German Comet hops. “Table Beer Juniper” – A yeast-lead table beer made with juniper berries, whole lemons and a mixture of northern and southern hemisphere hops. Finally “Bergamot Hopfen Weisse” – (Bergamots are a hybrid of oranges and lemons, with juice less sour than a lemon, but more bitter than a grapefruit. The oils contained within the skin of the fruit are sometimes used to flavour Earl Grey tea.) A modern hopfen weisse flavoured with zest and juice from 150kg of bergamot lemons.
http://www.alesela.co.uk/shop/Cloudwater

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Luckie Ales – The Final Batch

Luckies AlesCouple of final, absolutley the last ones, this is definitely IT now, no more, nothing to see here, move along – beers from the wonderful Luckie Ales. Stuart McLuckie has definitely retired now, but he’s been gracious enough to leave us with a couple of his porters. “1853” from his Resurrection Series and “Robust Porter”. Both absolutely excellent examples of the style and would be well worth ageing too.
http://www.alesela.co.uk/shop/LuckieAles

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Luckie Ales

Luckie AlesQuick visit to the “Last Chance Saloon” for fans of Luckie Ales. As some of you will already know, Stuart, the brewer of Luckie Ales is retiring this year. We’ve managed to get hold of some of the very last brews of his. Anyone who’s a fan of well made, small batch beers should try these whilst you still can – particularly if you’re a fan of “classic” beer styles and old brewing recipes brought back to life. We have ‘Export Helles’, ‘Oor Helles’, ‘Pale Ale’ and ‘Best Bitter’ for you. The mystery bottle in the middle is a mis-shipment of Eighty Shilling that won’t be for sale.
http://www.alesela.co.uk/shop/LuckieAles

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Fallen Brewery – Trainwreck

Fallen TrainwreckAn extra wee bonus treat for you, crash-landed in the warehouse this morning. From Fallen Brewing Company comes “Trainwreck” – a big, bold double IPA fermented with a Belgian yeast strain. Brewed in collaboration with Edinburgh’s The Holyrood 9A bar.
http://www.alesela.co.uk/shop/FallenBrewing

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Buxton Brewery – Belgian style beers

Buxton BreweryDown at Buxton Brewery Company, they’ve released a range of Belgian inspired/styled beers. We have two of them for you to try. “Blonde” at 5%abv and the “Dubbel” at 7%abv. Just look at them…..they’re soooo pretty! (and obviously cos they’re from Buxton, they taste pretty too)
http://www.alesela.co.uk/shop/BuxtonBrewery

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Beavertown

Beavertown BeersSomething for the hop-heads now. We’ve re-stocked the mighty Beavertown Brewery‘s “Gamma Ray” American pale ale and to keep it company we’ve brought in it’s mate, “Neck Oil” – a juicy, crisp IPA.
http://www.alesela.co.uk/shop/BeavertownBrewery

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Thornbridge Brewery

Thornbridge BreweryOne new thing and two re-stocks from the lovely Thornbridge Brewery. We’ve re-stocked firm favourites “Jaipur” and “Kill Your Darlings” and we welcome to the fold “Eldon”. Eldon is a stout brewed with demerara sugar, Bourbon soaked oak, vanilla and fine Kentucky Bourbon, just for good measure. 330ml and 8%abv. Worth savouring.
http://www.alesela.co.uk/shop/ThornbridgeBrewery

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