It was in 2013 that Oddbins first launched a series of collaboration craft beers with young and thrusting breweries, which when judged against the concept of eternity, feels rather brief. For example, if we were to brag about the persistence of this project to a 16th generation Alsatian wine producer, they would likely sneer “wow 5 years, that’s impressive, you know, I think that’s how long the Ming Dynasty lasted?” They wouldn’t say that because Alsatian wine producers are lovely, but you can bet your ancient Riesling vines they’d be thinking it!
Yet, in the world of craft beer, 5 years feels like multiple lifetimes. Think back to 2013; you could walk into a pub and your beer choice consisted of 4 different lagers supposedly from a spectrum of European countries but were actually all produced in a mega-brewery in Herefordshire. Saying that now, we feel like a gentleman in his 70s recollecting powdered eggs for an aghast and disbelieving grandchild.
Today, craft beer is unrecognisable from when we began this project. This month our buying team visited London Craft Beer Fest and you couldn’t swing a hipster cat without hitting a beer style that didn’t exist a week before. It must have been what it was like for music fans in the 60s! At the same time, beer conglomerate buyouts and supermarket sales are now part & parcel of the industry, provoking lamentations of beer purveyors in a manner reminiscent of Dylan going electric. We understand this is a natural evolution for industries in their infancy and it actually allows us to hunt out new boundary pushing breweries and focus on the most experimental beers of our existing partners.
Hence, as we approached the summer of 2018, we considered who best to team up with for the ninth in the series of our collaboration brews, who could represent the astonishing leaps forward made in the industry. We found it hard to look past Gipsy Hill; one of the shinning lights of the London craft beer scene with a core range focused on showcasing how much flavour can be expressed in sub-5%abv beers and a innovative experimental range that sells out faster than they can brew it.
Luckily for us, Gipsy Hill weren’t put off by our fundamental wine unprofessionalism or our relentless references to Lord of the Rings’ characters in tasting notes and agreed to brew some beer with us. Thus, in June a few of our staff went over to the Gipsy Hill Brewery to assist with Oddbins No.9 (by which we mean, we drank insanely delicious beer, while leaving the brewing to the professionals).
Six weeks later we had our beer; Oddbins No.9 is a west coast style Session IPA with bags of big C hops – Cascade, Chinook and Centennial – added hot and cold side, then dry hopped with Californian orange zest to give it a citric brightness; at 4.5% it’s the perfect summer beer.
One of the many reason Gipsy Hill jumped out at us to partner for number 9 was their awesome artwork designed by Marcus Reed. Each of Gipsy Hill’s beers features a caricature of someone involved in the brew; Oddbins No.9 features Oddbins’ legend Joe Persaud. For over 20 years Joe has played the part of wine aficionado, shop hand, cellar master, delivery man, painter & decorator, merchandiser and ultimate problem solver; he is our Winston Wolfe except Joe never sold out to go work for an insurance company. Standing with a big ol’ trolley delivery and an ice-cold beer we feel Oddbins no.9 perfectly depicts Joe’s maxim ‘work hard, play harder!’