As we barrel ever closer to Imbibe Live on 1 and 2 July, it’s time to catch up with our category ambassadors to find out about the latest industry trends, their plans for the show and their projects. First up, Laura Foster talks to beer ambassador Mitch Adams BS, operations manager and beer buyer at Euroboozer, and all-round nice chap
Hi Mitch! It’s great to have you back as our beer ambassador for a third year. How do you think the beer industry has changed in your time as ambassador?
I feel honoured to keep getting asked back. We’ve seen the growth of a lot more breweries, we’ve seen craft move into the mainstream, sitting alongside traditional beer line-ups. The landscape of beer has changed in most pubs now. Most have a pale ale or IPA, rather than four lagers, a smooth, a Guinness and a cider, which is how it used to be when I started!
The landscape on the bar has changed quite a lot in the last three years, partly driven by some of the bigger producers’ acquisitions.
You’re hosting a session on classic beer styles. Would you count yourself as more of a classicist or a modernist when it comes to beer as a category?
I think the classic beer styles that I’m presenting aren't necessarily mild, porter and English best bitter. They’re the beer styles that kickstarted the beer revolution in the UK 10 to 15 years ago, and the beers that are still very good – so Belgian wheat beers, early American imports, Trappist beers and the like.
Currently there seems to be a lean towards hype beers, the latest cloudy, hazy drink with some unusual fruit in it. They get brewed once, they get drunk once and Instagrammed once and that’s it. So I would very much like to champion some of the beers that have got us where we are today, and should be going back and drinking.
What do you think of the recent blurring of lines between the beer and cider categories, such as [Imbibe Live cider ambassador] Tom Oliver’s co-fermentation collaborations with various breweries?
I am all for collaboration in any form, whether that’s on the beer or the juice, or the marketing. I think it’s a very healthy way to run a business. In terms of blurring between beer and cider, bring it on. We’ve seen some phenomenal results from these collaborations, a lot of them involving Tom, it must be said.
More collaboration can only be a good thing and can only be healthy. Ultimately it brings people who would usually drink beer into the cider category because it was a collaboration with a brewery they liked, and then they might find a cider producer they liked.
Are there any particular beer trends that visitors should keep an eye out for while going around exhibitor stands?
I have been saying for a few years and will continue to say that lager is the next thing in the craft industry. Some of that is going back to heritage brands, proper imported brands that are produced properly and lagered for a correct amount of time. Some of that is smaller and newer breweries taking the mantra, producing new lagers with good ingredients without cutting corners.
So obviously they should visit Euroboozer on stand G8 and come and say hello to Stiegl.
There’s been a huge growth in the number of no-alcohol beers on the market. What do you think of the overall quality of these products? Do you think they’re amazing as alcoholic beer, or that more work could be done to bring them up to scratch?
I think overall across the category there’s a lot of variation. There are some people that are doing it incredibly well, and some that are doing it incredibly badly. I’m particularly looking forward to seeing Rupert Ponsonby and Fergus Fitzgerald do their no and low tasting [From Nothing to Everything]. There’s a way to go, it’s an area in huge growth from a small base, and the better the quality, the more we’ll see no- and low-alcohol beer in bars.
I have been saying for a few years and will continue to say that lager is the next thing in the craft industry
Unfortunately I think the on-trade is behind the curve on this trend. Most of the sales we’re seeing is retail and online retail, and it’s huge. The on-trade really needs to wake up and have a decent range of no and low available, not just have one style of lager in the corner. There’s no-alcohol lager, wheat, pale, sours… there’s something for everybody now. Mikkeller has six or seven styles at any one time that they’re producing, all no and low, each with a different character.
You and Tom are facing off once again in the Beer v Cider Smackdown at Imbibe Live – do you have any prematch fighting words for Tom?!
I hope he’s got his wizard’s cape with him this time! Ultimately, I think whether beer or cider wins, if people are getting interested in the food pairing aspects with both, then we’ve all won.
That’s very diplomatic of you! Pete Brown is hosting a Beer & Music Matching session on Centre Stage. Do you have any particular artists that you like to listen to whilst drinking beer?
That session is going to be absolutely brilliant, and it will change the way people drink Duvel forever. The session is revolutionary. I have a very eclectic music taste, to be honest, it’s not usually dictated by beer, it’s dictated by my mood. I will say that whenever I have a Duvel, I have to play a certain track thanks to Pete. And I will leave that a mystery – everyone will have to come to the show to find out what it is!
What other projects have you got coming up?
We are currently in the middle of a project for Czech Beer Week, where we’re importing from small Czech brewers, predominantly unfiltered, unpasteurised real Bohemian lagers. It’s been a really exciting project to bring six breweries into this. It’s all live and unpasteurised, these breweries don’t normally let it far outside of their brewery radius, let alone to the UK.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I am genuinely very excited about this year’s line-up. It builds on the knowledge that we hopefully shared last year.
While you're here…
Have you registered for the on-trade’s favourite drinks show yet? Imbibe Live is taking place on 1 and 2 July at Olympia London.
If you don't already know, Imbibe Live is the innovative and interactive annual exhibition for anyone who sources, buys or serves drinks in the licensed on-trade. From sommeliers to buyers, from managers to publicans and bartenders, this essential date in the drinks calendar will see the industry’s finest come together. Register today at live.imbibe.com.
We can’t wait to see you there!