Beer, Rum, Irish Hospitality, Tiki and pepper is either an 1840’s punch recipe or the order of business for the latest Edrington-Beam Suntory Rookie Programme.
When planning a Monday there are worse places to start than the Fourpure Brewery. Since we visited with last years Rookies it has undergone a transformation with a big and beautiful new tap-house plus new rooms from which to run the educational and training sessions.
Luckily one thing that hasn’t changed is Graham McAteer, our host for the morning. Starting off with a taste of their excellent beers and a trip through the history and science of beer production Graham has an amazing knack of being able to geek out whilst entertaining a crowd (the beer probably helps).
My favourite story of the day was based around the trend in the 1800’s to build giant fermentation tanks out of wood (by giant I mean big enough to hold a banquet inside with room for the wait staff). In hindsight it doesn’t take a genius to figure out this wasn’t such a great idea.
Several had varying levels of malfunction until a catastrophic failure put an end to the trend. In 1814 there was a brewery next to Brick Lane called the Horse Shoe Brewery (presumably and ironically named so for good luck). They had 22 foot high wooden fermentation tank which to give an idea of scale held the equivalent of 3,500 barrels of porter.
One of the iron rings which held the wood together snapped and shortly afterwards the tank exploded sending more than 320,000 gallons of beer into the surrounding streets. A 15 foot high wave of beer spread through the streets killing 8 people. Strictly speaking there were actually 9 killed as people drank as much of this free beer as they could leading the a few days later to the death of the ninth victim from alcohol poisoning!
A look around the Fourpure Brewery showed that times had definitely changed with shiny vats and reverse osmosis machines working away and showing no signs of exploding and killing. The canning machine is a strangely satisfying piece of equipment and not least because of the fact that the rejected beers have to be drunk by someone….
Despite a long taxi ride it was a seamless segue from the brewery to our next stop of the day Homeboy. Before Homeboy owner Ciarán Smith gave the Rookies a look at Irish hospitality we got in the mood with a toastie and Irish Coffee.
For future reference all Irish Coffee’s will now be measured on the David Miles scale. The Edrington-Beam Suntory frontman is always the sensible one of the group and rarely samples more than a small sip no matter how good the liquid we’re drinking is (although I reckon when we get to Scotch that’ll change). However when I reached for the Irish Coffee we were supposed to share, he gave me a stare that stopped me in my tracks. The Homeboy Irish Coffee is a full Miles.
An hour later and the Rookies had an understanding of why Irish hospitality is the envy of the world whilst trying some of the drinks that made Homeboy one of the most awarded bars in the last year.
From one fabulous bar we headed to another, and further apart in style it is hard to find. Alex Kratena was on hand to welcome the group to Tayēr + Elementary and show them the amazing bar setup. Whilst they enjoyed one of the bars fantastic drinks Alex was kind enough to talk them through the amazing world of pepper he discovered on his journey to create the Paragon brand.
With the following day in mind and to complete the trifecta of completely different bars it was off to see Georgi at Laki Kane. It was a lesson in drinks vessels as the table was covered in the various drinks that were ordered and it seemed only fitting to end the drinking portion of the evening with some 1888 Brugal for tomorrow was….
Since we launched the Rookie Programme with Edrington-Beam Suntory 5 years ago there has always been one rule – get the best people possible to cover the given subject. Due to this the where and who of Rookie Programme Rum Day has been the same since day one. Trailer Happiness and Paul McFadyen.
The world of rum is such a vast subject that we dedicate whole day to it. This year Paul divided it into two main areas, the basics of rum history and production was tackled in the morning. It was here that Paul also delved into his new mission. It goes something like this:
Over the years bartenders have been inundated with information on brands and categories that whilst good to know is, in general, useless for the general public. One thing that isn’t being taught is how to impart this information on the punters in our bars.
Paul has come up with a plan to take the information and pass it onto the customer in an informative and fun way. We will be covering this in more detail in the next couple of weeks so keep an eye out, but it was a great way to tackle what was to come after lunch.
To divide up the world of rum Paul went by country. We kicked off with the Dominican Republic and David jumped in with a deep dive into the delicious world of Brugal. Having already had a try the night before it was the perfect brand to kick off with.
After learning all about the 130 year old history of Brugal it was time to try the rums that the 5th generation of Brugal family members to hold the honour of ‘Maestro Ronero’ are making.
From there we went through the islands and countries that produce such a huge variety of different rums. Using a mixture of ‘traditional’ rums from the islands and some Plantation varieties the Rookies tasted the different styles available.
In retrospect doing the daquiri challenge after a day of rum sampling was not the greatest idea. In the world of bad ideas standing next to Trailer owner Sly whilst it happened was right up there. At this point I’d love to let you know who got the quickest time but….. it didn’t go well.
Anyway moving swiftly on a massive thanks to everyone who helped out with the double day Rookie Programme session. Sorry Sly. As always a huge thanks to Edrington-Beam Suntory and in particular David Miles for their un-wavering support.
Next up is Bourbon….. they really are lucky buggers!