5 Questions to: UK beer blogger and author Mark Dredge

| april 30, 2013

When I first started out blogging about beer there were a number of places in the blogasphere I’d stop at every day for tips, inspiration and motivation. In the UK scene one of them was always Pencil & Spoon, the creation of a young, ambitious food and beer writer by the name of Mark Dredge.

Mark quickly went on to establish himself at the forefront of a new generation of online beer writers. Awards followed (such as the British Guild of Beer Writers’ Beer and Food Writer of the Year 2011) and even more importantly he was one of three UK bloggers that got to brew a beer with BrewDog, which as we all know means you’ve really made it.*

I loved Mark’s down-to-earth, approachable style from the get-go so I’m incredibly excited to be able to announce that from next month Mark is going to start sending us regular dispatches from the UK beer scene.

Although I know Mark pretty well for some of you he’s an unfamiliar name, so lets kick things off by asking him 5 Questions…….

 

BeerSweden: Tell us Mark a little bit about your beery background? When did you discover beer and why did you start writing about it?

MarkDredge

Mark joins BeerSweden’s impressive team of regular contributors!

Mark: Before I went to university I drank rum and cola. Seriously. Cool, right? I just didn’t understand why people liked tasteless lager or bitter ale. But at university I met my mate Matt who loved going out and trying different beers. I’d go with him to these pubs and didn’t want to order a short and mixer so went for a beer. Every time we went somewhere I’d order something different and so would he and so would our other mates, so I ended up drinking loads of different beers in a short space of time. From there it just became a normal thing to go out trying new beers all the time and to go to many different pubs specifically looking for good beers.

Then I did a postgraduate degree in Creative Writing and wanted to publish words online about something which I was interested in, so I chose to write about food with a bit of beer on the side. But the more I wrote about food, the less I liked writing about it and the more I wrote about beer. That was in 2008 and the blog has been going since then. I didn’t know much about beer when I started and I’ve just spent a few years trying to learn and taste as much as possible. A few years after starting the blog I got my first magazine commission and I was being paid to write about beer. That’s some kind of wonderful dream, isn’t it? More articles followed and then in 2012 I was asked to write a book, which was amazing.

BeerSweden: Reading your blog Pencil and Spoon it’s clear you’ve had some amazing beer experiences over the years. Are there any in particular that stick out?

Mark: I’ve been lucky that I’ve been able to travel and drink great beer in the US and Europe and I’ve had so many amazing experiences. The beers themselves almost don’t matter, I’ve found, and it’s the environment and the people which make it memorable. These are the ones which jump out first: Drinking in the cellars at Pilsner Urquell is incredible and unmissable – I took 16 of us there last month for my best mate’s stag do; going to GABF in 2012 was overwhelming and crazy and completely brilliant for a massive beer geek like me; drinking brilliant craft beer in Santorini, which is a beautiful island, blew me away – Greece has some very good beer; and Bamberg might be my new favourite city – I arrived fearing that I’d have to drink rauchbier all day and instead I found some of the most interesting and tasty beers in Germany, plus it’s a fantastic and handsome place.

BeerSweden: We read a lot about the battle between keg and cask dividing the UK beer scene these days. Are things really as infected as they seem?

Mark: This is such a strange subject in the UK and it’s so frustrating. I literally don’t care whether a beer is in keg, cask, bottle, can or whatever as long as it tastes good when it gets into my glass. Why should we judge a beer based purely on the packaging it’s in? That’s dumb. What annoys me is that keg beer is absolutely no threat to cask beer; it’s an addition to cask and it’s replacing the crap industrial keg lines with better beer. Why can’t we all just celebrate that?

I’m sick of seeing the ongoing issues between cask and keg. Everyone has a choice in what they drink and the fact that we now have more choice is a great thing, so why people choose to denigrate containers is beyond me. Sadly we are a long way from doing anything about this, but the sooner we can simply celebrate beer which tastes good the British beer industry will be a better place.

Craft Beer WorldBeerSweden: Your book, Craft Beer World, is just out. What was it like writing the book?

Mark: Writing Craft Beer World was a weird, exhausting, yet exciting experience. At the time I got asked to write it I was working full time at Camden Town Brewery, doing their marketing and communications, and I thought I could do the two things together: beer book in the morning (I got up at 5am every day for five months!) and evenings and then work 9am-6pm in the brewery. After a few months, which included travelling to Chicago, San Diego, Brussels and Copenhagen, I realised that I couldn’t handle both together so dropped to part time hours at the brewery, which made things easier.

The writing process for a book like this is easy in many ways: I’m writing about really fantastic beers and trying to tell really interesting stories about who makes them, where they are made and why. And that’s great. But there’s also a lot of research and the necessity to evolve that research so that it worked for my book. What you realise is that all the beer books already written take a different approach and write different things, so it takes a lot of work. Then there’s actually choosing the beers to go into it… That’s what took the most time. Think about American Pale Ale, for example. So many breweries around the world make this type of beer, so how could I choose just 10 to go in the book, ensuring that I got a range of beers from different countries and continents? Narrowing down that list to the final few was always a nightmare.

But it’s so rewarding to actually have a book at the end of that process. Looking back over the last year it’s been a difficult, busy, weird 12 months, but this book is so exciting and I’m so excited that it’s out now, though the frustrating thing is that I already wish I could add more beers or change a few around (and I’ve spotted a couple of annoying typos – whoops!). The best part is opening the book and being reminded how great these beers taste or I’m reminded of the moments I drank them, plus reading some of the entries back gets me excited about the power of words to describe something simple. I like that a lot.

BeerSweden: Lastly the question we always finish on; what’s your favorite beer of the moment and why?

Mark: Oh man, save the hard question to last… For the last year or so I’ve been obsessed with finding really great lagers, whether it’s a classic pilsner or a modern style. I also love big juicy new world hops, so it’s going to be something in the middle: Camden Town’s USA Hells. I still work a few hours a week at the brewery, mostly taking the brewery tours, and this is the reward at the end of the day and for me it’s a perfect beer: pale, clean, unfiltered, smooth yet still dry, the hop aroma is so wonderfully fruity and soft that I just want to bathe in it. It’s my go-to fridge beer.

Other than that I was in Prague recently and had probably the best IPA I’ve ever tasted (and I’ve tasted a lot!): Nomad’s Karel IPA. It was incredible. Just balanced in the most amazing of ways, so outrageously fruity yet not overpowered at all. So good! I love it when a beer just blows your mind like this one did – I couldn’t stop drinking it.

 

* I’m being ironic, in case you were wondering.

 

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Category: 5 frågor, Articles in English, Senaste Nytt

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  1. gabriel skriver:

    On my trip to Sweden i tasted the beer for the first time and from that moment i also tasted beer from other countries also but no other beer can take the place of Sweden beer its really very very boosting .thanks