Divining The Future

The key to running a successful business is being able to plan for the future. With this in mind, I have been formulating a series of complex algorithms and inputted every variable imaginable in order to be able to plot out exactly what the future holds for us at Wood Key Brewing, and was able to put together a 3D rendering of what it will look like. Any resemblance to EA’s game “The Sims 4” is purely coincidental. This was a purely scientific endeavour and not the result of me being bored and trying to find new ways to faff about.
So with that in mind, I give you the future of Wood Key Brewing:



As you can see, this is from approximately 10 years in the future. Simon has moved into formal shorts, Andrew is bringing back the 80’s, Brian has finished a successful stint on Doctor Who as some sort of emo doctor and, as expected, I’m the only normal one in the group.
Many things are still the same.  For example:


We still take awkward group photos. Simon still likes to dance:

And I like to dance:



And Andrew likes to dance:



Brian does not like to dance, but likes to creepily stand behind, watching…



We’re still the life of the party.



Except for Brian who apparently likes to stare wistfully into the middle distance.



It’s good to see that we all still get along, living together in our modestly furnished home. We’re not exactly rich, and don’t have a whole lot of room.  But we’ve got each other.  And that’s all that counts when you can’t do better.


Andrew and I happily share a room (and apparently a bed. But I’m sure it’s completely platonic).



Brian has his own room that he spends most of his time sleeping in, when not gazing wistfully.



And Simon dances as if his life depended on it. I actually haven’t seen him sleep yet. It’s really quite creepy.



But all in all, we’re just your normal bunch of friends that…



Moving on…


We still like to hang out together down the local.


And while Simon does crunches in the middle of the bar to impress the locals…



I can always be relied upon to…



Oh, come on!


After being thrown out, I happen to run into a group of women in swim wear and someone who I can only assume is going to a fancy dress party as one of the stuck up rich kids from every 80’s American teen movie.  They’re clearly a step up from the people I normally hang out with, so maybe now is the chance to move up in the world?



Yeah, I’m pretty sure I could fit in. All I have to do is act cool and not draw attention to myself…





Well, as long as I don’t freak anyone out…





Probably best just to hang around the coffee machine, ignoring their bemused looks, while waiting for pity to take it’s course.



And it’s worked!!! Feeling sorry for me, my peers have invited me to an exclusive party. There, I’ll be able to schmooze with some well to do people and move up in the world. But I can’t do it alone. I’ll need a wingman, so I call up Andrew and tell him to meet me there.



DAMN! We look good! First order of business, grab people’s attention. And there’s only one way we know how to do that…



They don’t stand a chance.

Step two: move to the bar. Everyone has to go there at some point, and that’s when we strike.



Everything’s going like clockwork. As long as we don’t get too drunk we should be…


Ah for feck’s sake.

Well this clearly isn’t turning out how I expected it to. I can only hope the others are having a better time of it.


Maybe my calculations need a little more work.

A Matter of Perspective

It’s apparently summer here in Ireland. At least that’s what the calendar tells me. Like most, I’d hoped for a nice sunny summer with evenings spent having a cool beer out in the garden, surrounded by friends. But it’s too wet outside and I don’t have any friends. And the beer is tepid (the fridge is on the blink). It might clear up in August. That’s something to look forward to, I guess.

It’s unfortunate the weather can’t be trusted. We’d hoped for our anniversary at the Flavours of Fingal festival would be as sunny as last year (which had absolutely stunning weather). Instead we got an overcast Saturday and a torrential Sunday. That didn’t stop people turning up though (well, maybe a little).

But it was still great craic and we got meet a hell of a lot of people (and got to watch Ireland get knocked out of the Euros), I just could have done with a bit of sun. I’m stuck in doors all day and get most of my vitamin D from watching ads for Centrum. But you can’t sweat the little things. That’s one of the little things we’ve learned in our first year in business.

Things inevitably go wrong, so you learn to shrug it off and bottle up the rage to be released on an unsuspecting passer-by in years to come. Our Anniversary beer bottles are a good example.

This single-hop was to be a one-off, all keg affair. We had brewed it over in Carraroe with Kev O’Hara and the Independent Brewing Company (which, as an aside, is possibly one of the most beautiful spots on the planet. Well, when it’s sunny. When it’s cold and wet it’s miserable). Kev was to keg the beer when it was done, to save us having to head down and do it ourselves (we’re lazy. So sue us!).

Unfortunately, Kev mistook the tank containing our beer for a tank containing his beer and proceeded to bottle and keg it, instead of just kegging it. And as happens whenever any of us makes a huge mistake, he only noticed after he’d finished labelling all the bottles.

So any of you who’ve bought a bottle of our anniversary ale may have noticed that there’s an Independent Brewing Company label underneath our own. We could have gotten Kev to manually peel off every incorrect label he put on the bottles while we beat him with sticks, but we’re just not that heartless. I mean, we still beat him. We simply took the easy way out and slapped our labels on top of the wrong ones.

There was a time where we would have run around in blind panic, clueless as to what to do. Now, we shrug it off. Also, we swear a lot, but that’s reasonably normal. And nothing says craft beer like shoddy workmanship. It’s what the people want. Or at least it’s what people have come to expect from us. And anyway, it’s what’s inside that counts (that applies to both beer and people. And cake).

You see, there’s always going to be something to worry about. So if that’s a constant, then there’s not a lot you can do about it. Therefore, there’s no reasons to worry about it. That’s science! Why should we worry about our labels when Britain might exit the EU and raise our costs? Why worry about the Brexit when Trump may become president of the US and causes a severe outbreak of stupid? Why worry about Trump when a meteorite the size of China might hit the Earth and wipe us all out? Why worry about being wiped out when they’ve cancelled Firefly?

It’s all about perspective. And partly denying reality. But mostly perspective. The key is to keep smiling as you slowly die inside. Wait, no. That doesn’t sound right. The key is to dance and love and sing. No, that’s nonsense. Hmm… I’m not sure what the key is. Actually, I’m not even sure what the key is for. I’ve written myself into a corner and now can’t remember the point I was trying to make.

Ah to hell with it, I’m having a Firefly marathon. That should keep reality at bay.

Sparkling Piss Thoughts

So recently enough the lovely people of Facts Ireland invited me into their studios and proceeded to feed me some utterly awful beers in the name of entertainment. I was given some of the staples of the beer market both in Ireland and stateside; the list included Bud Light, Miller, Dutch Gold, Coors light and Molson Canadian.  Some were a lot worse than others, as you’ll see in the video if you care to watch. This was my first time for both Dutch Gold and Bud Light and I think it’s safe to say, it will be my last.  That is unless someone decides again to pay me to drink.  Then feel free to give me a shout.


Feel free to watch, share and subscribe to Facts.  They’re making fun videos which I’ve enjoyed for a while and am now happy to say have starred in.


Happy Birthday, Mr Pilgrim!

So here we are, almost a year to the day that we took our first trip to the brewery in pure disgruntled silence as it was 6 in the morning on a Wednesday and none of us had followed the basic advice of not drinking the night before, except for Andrew of course; who was used to being active that early in morning because his happiness is solar powered and he must make the most of the sunlight.


The day started as good as could be expected, by that I mean we accidentally opened the valve from the hot liquor tank and pushed our mash in time out by about 3 hours. Flying start, Wood Key style.


The day was otherwise relatively painless, mostly listening to The Meters, taking far too many photos and generally fanboying out throughout the day. Our first Pilgrim had hit the tank and was on the way to fermenting away to greatness.


Time passed, yeast consumed sugar, released alcohol, as it’s known to do, and we arrived back for bottling day, it was tough work, but well worth it, we bottled, labelled, made boxes, built pallets, capped bottles, as hands on as we could be.  This was from 7am the launch day til 5, where we then brought the stock to McHughs and did our first tasting. I was only there for an hour or so, as I had tickets to a Mastodon gig and there’s priorities in life.


We had our full weekend at the Flavours of Fingal festival, selling beer and meeting people. Myself, I was worse for wear due to lack of hearing, but we struggled through and had as good a launch weekend as any.


Since then it’s been selling, brewing, tastings and the other accoutrements associated with this business, and it’s been a great year; 4 beers released, ravens being our second mainstay beer, the Pilgrim winning bronze at the Alltech festival, and of course me permanently tattooing the Pilgrim on my body (it’s the little things you know).


A year on, things are a little different.  Less mistakes, less fanboy nonsense but still the best feeling there is when creating beer.  Today was for our newest brew: our 1 year anniversary brew, a limited edition single hop, hopped with…?  That’s right, Pilgrim.  Good guess, people.  We could not help ourselves, we’re making a beer with the hop we probably should have used since the start, but hey, you live and you learn.  This will be available at Flavours of Fingal, McHughs Off-license, select bars, and there may also be a 1 year birthday bash for the Pilgrim himself!  Invites are in the post, but not for you Adrian, you know what you did.


This beer will be a simple 4% pale ale, late and dry hopped to a ridiculous level and hopefully easy drinking. One thing that has not changed in the past year with Wood Key, is the importance to us of a good playlist, so with this blog I will include to the playlist of the brew day.  It’s got a bit of everything from the last year, some of the old favourites and of course because I made this one with no one else around, some face melting metal.  It’s got a bit of everything, just like ourselves.


It’s been some year, and I hope there’s many more.  If you keep drinking our beer. we’ll keep making it.  Hell, even if you stop, I won’t.  Hope to see you for the birthday bash, flavours of Fingal, behind the bushes at my house, wherever you want to pop up


Onwards and Upwards





The First Time

It was my birthday this week, so I’ve been a bit chipper than usual. I celebrated the usual way, by drinking beer and watching Leonardo DiCaprio being mauled by a bear. It was an odd documentary and would put you right off camping.

I’ll be continuing the celebration this weekend by watching Captain America in the cinema.  Some may say it’s a fairly childish way to spend a 37thbirthday, but I’ve a child’s mind so it fits my M.O.  Anyway, who wants to be an adult facing the full horrors of the world we live in?  One look around and any sane person would just lay down and await the inevitable heat death of the universe.  But I digress.

As I thought back over my life’s achievements (it didn’t take too long), I thought about how I first started drinking craft beers all those years ago.  For many, the foray into more adventurous beers is due to a sense of disillusionment at what bars usually have on offer (and the memories of vicious chemical induced hangovers).  For others it’s a chance to try something new and different.

For me it was to stop people stealing my beer at parties.  And it worked.  Everyone hated my beers and kept well away from them.  Granted, I also hate them.  But I’m a petty, petty man and was more than willing to suffer rather than give in to thieving scum.

For the longest time there was little in the way of variation when it came to buying craft beer here.  I’d walk into the off-license with the same melancholic resignation only felt when taking a scrubbing brush to a toilet bowel victimised by the remnants of a vibrant night before.

Thank god we’ve such a selection now.  You don’t even have to have a “Go to” beer anymore.  You can pick and choose depending on your mood.  There’s a style of beer for any situation.  Want a few drinks when you’ve work in the morning?  Try a pale ale.  Trying to forget a lover who viciously abandoned you for a quantity surveyor named Kenneth?  Try a Belgian tripel.  Organising your collection of used teabags and realised you should have ordered them chronologically and not alphabetically? Sort your life out, mate.

There’s never been a better time to delve into the world of craft beers, especially if you’re one of those “I don’t like craft beers” people.  That’s like saying you don’t like food.  Sure, there may be plenty of foods you don’t like, but there’s too many different types to have a blanket ban on them all (plus, you’ll starve to death).

For the rest of you, do you remember when you first tried craft beer?  Or why you decided to try one?  Was it curiosity?  Paranoia?  Did you lose a bet? Was it a voodoo curse?