A bit of panic started to set in last week, well maybe panic is a bit of a strong word. I was a little worried. I only had 13 beers in the house to keep the challenge going. ‘Oh no’ I hear you say (well, probably not). In reality this was only 7 beers, as 6 of them are from Beerbods and I am only allowed to drink one of those every week (their rules, not mine). Seeing as at least half of the beers that I will be drinking in this challenge will be bottled beer, seven beers is not going to last me very long. So how was I to go about getting some more? I could have gone to the local shop or supermarket to easily pick some off the shelves, mostly big brand beers that I can get anywhere. But I wanted beers that were new and interesting, beers that I have never seen or heard of before. Although supermarkets and shops have a few of these, I needed to widen the search. What I really needed was a Beer shop, like a wine shop but selling mainly beer (just in case you need an explanation). However, there does not seem to be a beer shop close to here that sells beers from around the UK. The closest one is in Birmingham (Cotteridge Wines, an hour and a half drive) and although I am dedicated to this challenge, I am not dedicated enough to travel to Birmingham for some beer. In the last two months of internet searches and twitter following I have come across a great many breweries in the UK. Some sell their beer online, others do not. Most of the ones, if not all, that do sell online, tend to sell beers in crates of 12 with only three or four types of their beer, or they sell gift packs with only three bottles. Both good ways to try new beer, but not good for the 365 challenge. Internet searches and twitter following have also led me to a few websites that sell beer by the case. Like Best of British Beer who sell handpicked cases of british beer or provide a service where you can sign up to a beer club and receive up to 12 cases of beer a year. But these cases are pot luck and I would worry about getting beers that I have already tried, especially further into the year. Eventually I found two websites Beer Hawk and Ales By Mail on which I could buy individual bottles of any beer I wanted in order to make up a case of 12 or 24 beers. I was very excited at the prospect of trying some new beers and went through both websites making a list of all the beers that I wanted. Then, last week, just before I was going to order these beers, I had to go on a two day training course on learning how to use the new robot at work (sounds exciting doesn’t it, using a robot at work). As luck would have it, this training course was just outside Birmingham. I could go on the training and at the end of the day visit the beer shop. An excellent idea! No need to order beers on the internet, I could go in person and choose from a massive selection (according to the website, over 850 beers from around the world). I was very excited. The day came and I journeyed from the place of the training to the shop. The shop was great, smaller than I expected but a lot of beers to choose from around the UK and the rest of the world. They even had some of the beers that I had listed from the two websites. I am not sure that there were 850 ales but there was alot. It took me 45 minutes to choose the beers that I wanted and even then I could have been there longer. After a good chat with the owners about beer, they were friendly and helpful, I went home with 26 beers, a beer glass and a big smile on my face.
But the story does not end there. We were off to York for the weekend to see this beautiful city that we had heard so much about. Maybe there or close by they would have a beer shop. So with another piece of luck, an internet search found a beer shop, Trembling Madness, right in the centre of York. Amazing! The shop was smaller than the Birmingham one but had a lot of beers from Yorkshire, the UK and the rest of the world. Again I was in the shop for about 30 minutes (thank goodness Conchi is so patient with me and this challenge) choosing 12 new beers.
So thanks to a lucky robot training course in Birmingham and a nice trip to York with Conchi, that I partially hijacked for the 365 challenge, I am now the proud owner of 51 bottles of beer. Hopefully these beers should last me until June. We’ll see.