We’re eight hours in and I’m starting to flag. The Jever in my hand is doing its best to perk me up; the crisp bitterness and spritzy carbonation are uplifting and refreshing, but that identity parade of pumps, on the horizon of the bar, looms large.
The Grove is a pub with a reputation that precedes it. Today it’s full to bursting, every seat taken, all standing room occupied. There’s a constant stream of people at the bar and the busy sound of chatter fills the air.
Then Kelly Ryan stands up. Eyes follow him as he moves across the room. He’s been carrying around a bag all day, a bag full of bottles, bottles of experimental and exclusive Thornbridge beer. Before the first cap is removed, the crowd has gathered and the room belongs to Kelly, I get the feeling that people want to try these bottles almost as much as Kelly wants to share them.
We try the new batch of Bracia and I realise that this is it, in a nutshell, the reason why our loss will be
My first conversation with Kelly came about through Twitter. I was planning a homebrew black IPA at the time and, as luck would have it, Thornbridge were brewing Raven. One throwaway tweet later and I’m discussing the relative merits of de-husked carafa special 3 with one of the best brewers in the country. Emails back and forth, reviewing of recipes, tips on process; I was genuinely blown away by the time Kelly was happy to dedicate to my little homebrew project.
Kelly Ryan: kick ass brewer, a man with an effervescent enthusiasm for beer that can’t be contained, a bloke that always has time for people that want to pick his brains, and someone who’s driven innovation in both the beer we drink and the way we communicate about it.
Thanks Kelly, all the best in the future.