ʽʽHi, I’m Benjamin Nunn – critic, gourmand and author of Ben Viveur. I like to eat and drink. And cook. And write.

You might have read me in an in-flight magazine, or a beer publication, but here on my own blog I'm liberated from the editorial shackles of others so anything goes.

I deal with real food and drink in the real world, aiming to create recipes that taste awesome, but which can be created by mere mortals without the need for tons of specialist equipment and a doctorate in food science. Likewise, I tend to review relaxed establishments that you might visit on a whim without having to sell your first-born, rather than hugely expensive restaurants and style bars in the middle of nowhere with a velvet rope barrier, a stringent dress code and a six-month waiting list!

There's plenty of robust opinion, commentary on the world of food and drink, and lots of swearing, so look away now if you're easily offended.

Otherwise, tuck your bib in, fill your glass and turbo-charge your tastebuds. We're going for a ride... Ben Appetit!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Wort Experience Boy

I've been thinking lately - semi-seriously, which is often as serious as my thinking gets – about a radical change of career direction.


Yep, full time drinker. Saw it in the Guardian jobs pages today. £120k plus car plus performance-related per-pint bonus.

That job doesn’t actually exist, mind, and even beer tasting and writing for a living is perhaps an unrealistic aim at the moment, much as I’d love to believe otherwise.

But what about starting up my own micro or brewpub?

It’s a growing market (even within a wider brewing industry in overall decline) and saturation doesn’t appear to have been an issue for all the new craft brewers that have popped up in the last few years, so it might be a good time to get into the microbrewing scene.

The trouble is, I’ve almost no experience, and that which I do have is worthless. I’ve only once attempted a home brew, about 15 years ago, and it was spectacularly unsuccessful. Sorcerer was intended to be a session bitter at around 3.8% and I decided to dry hop it because, well, almost all beers in that style are better dry-hopped in my view.

With my shiny new equipment that my father got me for my birthday that year, the brewing seemed to go well, but for whatever reason, it came out very thin and overly astringent. I’ve no idea what the final strength was (almost certainly sub-2%) but it was almost impossible to drink because of the intensity of the raw, unbalanced hoppiness.

Perhaps more telling is that, following this failure, I had little drive or desire to repeat the experience or try to improve upon it. I also lack an appetite for manual work and long, antisocial hours, so I might have my work cut out trying to make it as a brewer, given my general reluctance to brew and eagerness to quit.

So I, to coin a phrase, 'sux major donkee dix!1' when it comes to brewing, but I'm actually a pretty good digital producer. Seems like a strong argument for sticking with my current career, and keeping my relationship with beer in the 'drinking it and occasionally writing about it' zone, no? 

But… what if I were to collaborate with somebody with a skillset complementary to mine? Somebody to do all the stuff I don’t want to do!

OK, that sounds selfish, I know, but they wouldn’t be doing all the work for none of the credit. No, really. Hear me out, guys.

See, I’m highly creative with several years experience in design and marketing, and I have a fairly broad knowledge of beer styles from all over the world, as well as experience drinking in, and writing about, pubs and bars of all descriptions. And I’m not completely clueless when it comes to general business skills either. 

And, whatever I think of them right now, Brewdog have proved, by expanding faster than probably any brewery, that these kinds of marketing and design-y things aren’t completely worthless and superficial in the beer industry.

Help Wanted

If I was writing the spec for my dream new job at a dream new brewery it would say ‘Creative Director’ at the top. The creativity is the important thing for me (though like all creative people I live in the bottom-quaking fear that one day somebody will confront me with irrefutable proof that I've never actually had an original idea).

Maybe one day...
I’d design the beers (and the marketing collateral, pump-clips, website etc.) and lead the overall business strategy. 30% more Citra hops for the Yorks and Humber region; Change the logo to include an actual Ocelot; Quintuple Stout for Russian Independence Day! Let’s kick some brewing ass to fuck!

And if we were an American-style brewpub with a full menu, I’d take responsibility for the food as well – joining up the food, the ale and the overall ethos into a holistic, singular experience. OK, I’m starting to talk toss now, but you get the idea. I’d be good at this stuff. 

If I were recruiting for this role, I’d hire myself, and I have little doubt that with the ideal business partner, we could come up with some of the greatest beers in the world and, crucially, make a success of the venture.

But, back on earth, before any of this shit can possibly happen, I’ll need to find the Yin to my Yang; The Science to my Art; The Head Brewer to my Creative Director. 

So, if there’s anybody out there with commercial brewing experience, the requisite technical knowledge to bring ideas to life, and a vague itch to get involved in something like this but perhaps without wanting to go it alone, please feel free to drop me a message. Maybe we can meet for a pint to discuss the possible venture? 

Maybe it will go somewhere, maybe it won’t. Maybe I’m a pipedreamer rather than a visionary. Maybe we’ll just drink a load of somebody else’s beer and talk about the injustice of Coventry City getting relegated? 

Or maybe we'll bring untold joy to thousands of thirsty people? That's got to be worth a shot, right?

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