Originally Posted on May 18, 2016
Are you curious to know about the people behind the beers you buy? Or perhaps you want to know what inspires brewers to brew and beer bloggers to blog? Our “Q&A” posts are a light hearted way of getting to know people working in, and connected to, the beer and alcohol industry.
Today’s post features Simon Martin, the man behind the YouTube channel Real Ale Craft Beer. We first spoke to Simon back in 2013 when he first started to review beers for us. Since then his channel has rapidly grown in popularity and now seems an ideal time to catch up and see how things are going for him.
We did a Q&A back in September 2013 when you first started to review for us. Can you fill us in on what you have been up to since then 2014 was a huge year for the channel, we visited Browar Pinta in Poland and brewed a collaboration beer with them called “Call Me Simon” Imperial Irish Red Ale. The beer launched to huge fanfare in Poland selling out in record time for Pinta and the beer now sits in 3rd place in the list for the best Irish Ale’s on RateBeer in the world (see here).
2015 started with collaboration beers with Gloucester Brewery (Wit PA), Hillside Brewery (Forest Falcon), Mad Dog Brewing (Bohemian Hipster) and then trips internationally to Poland “Call Me Simon 2015” (Imperial English Bitter), Belgium (European Beer Bloggers Conference) and then back to Poland for a collaboration with Doctor Brew (Annabelle IPA). Finally in November we had the chance to visit Norway where we brewed a Barrel Aged Imperial Stout with Lysefjorden MikroBryggeri.
2016 started with a collaboration with Grey Trees Brewery in January (WSB Welsh Special Bitter) and confirmed collaborations to come this year with Northern Monk Brew Co and SA Brains Brewery (TBA).
The craft beer movement seems to be going from strength to strength. Why do you think brewing has been such a great success in recent years? For me, people’s passion and love for craft beer has been the biggest driver in the success of craft beer. Social media has also played its part, never before have people had the opportunity to share their pictures and blogs on platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, Youtube and Facebook. Old media (newspapers and TV) offered very little coverage of beer over the years but with new social media platforms people can share their passion for a topic like never before and in doing so help share and introduce to new people all these amazing beers that are flavour packed and exciting.
You work with lots of breweries, are there any you have encountered that really stand out to you? All the breweries I have worked with share the same amazing passion and drive for their product, but for me the guys in Poland and Norway seem to understand the importance of Social Media more than breweries do in the UK. Browar Pinta and Doctor Brew combined have over 50,000 followers on their Facebook page and are growing incredibly fast. This then helps with the launch of new products and getting them into people’s hands, they even have what they call “Premiers” where they launch a product at specially organised events where they can have hundreds of people turning up to try their new offering.
With over 2,750 reviews under your belt, are you at the stage where you can recognise hop varieties in a beer by their aroma and flavour? Yes I am at the stage now where I can identify many hop varieties by name in a blind taste test and also I can guess which malts a brewer might have used just by looking at the colour of the beer.
You’re honest enough to say if you dislike a beer. Which beer would you say has been the biggest disappointment? This is a bit awkward and funny at the same time as it’s a beer that Beers of Europe sent me to review! The beer in question was called Belzebuth Extra Strong and it receives over 1,200 views a month with people commenting on how funny the expression on my face is when I take the first sip of the beer. (If you would like to see the review click here).
And which would you say was the biggest surprise? Probably a beer called Bell’s Oberon Ale. The description of the beer on the label seemed a bit bland to me but it was full of great malt flavours with a decent hop finish on the back end.
What do you see as the latest beer styles to look out for in 2016? I had a beer recently brewed with sour dough yeast from Wild Beer Co in Somerset, it was insanely sour and I can see more brewers adopting this style.
Back in 2013 you said your favourite beer was Alesmith Speedway Stout. Is it still a favourite or do you have a new contender? Some of the beers I have tried since then have been almost unbelievable in how good they taste. Beers from Omnipollo in Sweden, Lysefjorden in Norway and of course beers from Poland, America, Germany, Belgium and the UK have been great, but for me my new favourite would be an Imperial Stout brewed with Marshmallow from Omnipollo. It was fabulous.
Many breweries are experimenting with adding unusual flavours to their beers. Are there any you think work well together and are there any you would like to try? Definitely marshmallow as it works well with imperial stouts but also beers with pecan nut, peanut and coffee fit like a hand in a glove. Also fruit beers are proving fashionable with Grapefruit IPA’s springing to mind. A flavour which I would like to see more in beers especially strong beers would be Brandy, yeah more Brandy beers would be awesome.
The success of your YouTube channel has opened lots of new doors for you. Where do you see yourself, and the channel, in 5 years’ time? I mentioned “old media” at the beginnings of this Q&A, although I think “mew media” is the future and it’s where I have focused all of my energy, I would like to think that there will be opportunities in the future to guest star on a TV show or Radio.
As for the channel we are about to pass 2.5 million views in total, with another 1 million views adding to that every year which is quite astonishing really! But I don’t want to stop there, I think in 5 years with the addition of 750 new beer reviews per year we could achieve 20 million+ views in total.
Also one of my missions for myself and the channel is to visit and brew with more breweries around the world including America, Belgium, the Czech Republic and Germany.
We’ve enjoyed working with Simon and watching his reviews and look forward to continuing to do so. We’ve seen how hard he works and its great to see all that he has achieved.
You can find Simon’s YouTube channel here.