Vibrant Forest

Vibrant ForestSome interesting new beers from Vibrant Forest Brewery arrived today. We’ve had their bottles before and indeed we’ve re-stocked the “Session IPA” which went down very well previously. There are also three new additons. There’s “Belgian Zuur” – Belgian-style sour beer, finished by heaps of dry hopping with wonderful Nelson Sauvin hops to bring you a fruity, tart and refreshing golden beer. Also “Farmhouse Ale” – refreshing yet dry Saison ale combines barley and wheat malts with an authentic yeast strain to bring you peppery, earthy and fruity notes. And, most intriguingly of all, “Salted Liquorice Stout” – Lovely roast flavours in this jet black stout are complemented by a generous addition of liquorice and a nice dash of salt.

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Bellfield Brewery gluten-free beer

Bellfield BreweryWe’ve a treat for you from Bellfield Brewery in Edinburgh. If you find that “You can’t HANDLE the glute!” then you needn’t miss out on tasty beer. Bellfield brew two gluten free beers, “Bohemian Pilsner” – A classic Czech pilsner style, featuring Saaz hops, pale with a light body, background bitterness and gentle floral tones and “Lawless Village” – Named after the brewery’s neighbourhood of Portobello. A copper coloured, beer brewed as a traditional American IPA made with pale crystal malt, Cascade and Centennial American hops.

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OmnipolloSome Summer madness just arrived from Omnipollo. Omnipollo is a Swedish brewery that produces excellent quality beers with a quirky edge. We have three returning favourites and two newbies.
There’s “Nebuchadnezzar” – an Imperial Double India Pale Ale. ‘Neb’ is a home brew recipe that has been scaled up with no consideration to economies of scale. Some say idiotic, we say delicious! Then there’s “Onda” – a smooth pale ale brewed solely with Mosaic hops – and then “Zodiak” – Omnipollo’s house IPA. A blend of grains, untouched post fermentation and aspiringly hopped with Simcoe, Citra and Centennial. The two newbies are from the Magic Numbers series and are – ” Magic #8″ – a pale ale brewed with maple candied almonds and “Magic #3.5” – now get this; this is a pineapple gose, it’s a German style wheat beer brewed with rock salt, conditioned on pineapple, and lightly dry-hopped. Intriguing, no?

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Up Front Brewing

Up Front BrewingWe’re kinda late to the party with these as far as Glasgow folks go but we thought it only fair to make these beers available to our further afield, nationwide customers – they are THAT good. From fresh out of the wrapper Up Front Brewing we bring you “Ishmael” – a 6% IPA that showcases the subtly sweet malt characteristics, heady hop notes and robust bitterness of an American IPA. Bitter, floral, piney, resinous and fruity with a clean and crisp malt backbone. “Ahab” – a 6% Stout is a complex, deep and rich fusion of dark malts with the fruity hop finish of an American stout. Roasted chocolate and coffee malt notes, balanced with a fruity and spicy hop finish. And the even better news is that they’re both in cans, flavours all sealed in and handily portable for summer.

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Oud Beersel

Oud BeerselWe have some Belgian beers for you lovely customer type people. Three from the Oud Beersel Brewery – Anno 1882 – Beersel, Belgium. Two Lambics, one Cherry (Kriek) and one Raspberry (Framboise) and a Gueuze. Quick beer style lesson for you: Lambics are a blend of two or more beers, tending toward the tart side and are often flavoured with fruit or fruit syrups. Gueuze is a blend of Lambics; usually a young (one year old) and an old, or “oude” one. There y’go – delicious beer AND you’ve learned something today. Don’t say we’re not good to you! :)

P.S. The “BBE” dates on these beers are 2035 – stick THAT in yer pipe and smoke it, “freshness” freaks 😉

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Swannay Brewery – Imperial Stout

Swannay Imperial StoutWe were visited by the Swannay Brewery fairy today (Hi Kev!)
We stocked up on fresh batches of most of their beers and as a bonus treat we got some of their new Imperial Stout in too. Swannay brewery is on Orkney; Orkney is around 59° north, level with some parts of Russia where imperial stouts were originally sent. Their version is dark with chocolate and fruit in the nose and prunes and oranges on the palate. It has an almost Belgian aftertaste. Weighs in at 8%abv. Remember – 10% off all orders of twelve or more bottles during the month of May to celebrate our 5th birthday. Surely you don’t need any more excuse than that?

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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…… 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!

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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.

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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.

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