Craft Beer Tasting With Honest Brew

Founder Andrew Reeve on the rise and rise of real ale

Along with beards, bikes and the provenance of coffee beans, craft beer is arguably the ultimate hipster obsession. Just don’t mention the ‘H’ word to Andrew Reeve. “We get frustrated at people calling it a hipster thing,” says the co-founder of artisanal ale delivery service Honest Brew. “Our customers are simply people who appreciate quality beer.”

He could be onto something. The company ships around 50,000 bottles and cans a month, while Britain now has 1,300 breweries, more per capita than any other country in the world, increasing by 10% per year – it’s fair to say craft beer is going mainstream.

"We’ve always had real ales here, but only in the last five to 10 years has there been this huge resurgence in beer. This year, we’ve really seen it take off. Pretty much everyone you talk to has tried a craft beer or knows about it.”

12 Beer Mixedcase

Reeve launched Honest Brew in 2012, hosting brewing pop ups for those who wanted to explore the world of craft ale, but found it inaccessible.

“When you go into a bottle shop, you see all these beers and don’t know which ones to buy. We decided to take the experience of someone guiding you and bring that online, delivering your order straight to your door. It’s a really personalised service.”

 Taster Kit2

The east London-based company now employs a team of nine, working with 120 breweries worldwide, from Reeve’s native New Zealand to Japan and the US. Each brewery is handpicked and the beers tasted personally. Sounds like a taxing enterprise.

“A beer is cracked open most days after 4pm as we always have new samples coming in. It’s a hard life,” smiles Reeve.

Honest Brew initiates typically start with a taster kit containing six different varieties of beer, from lager to dark ale, or porter. “It’s like a tasting session in your own home,” explains Reeve. “You work out what you like and don’t like, then create a profile online. We use that profile to tailor your first box. So if you’re not keen on dark beer, we’ll give you a box that focuses on pale ales. Afterwards, you’re invited to rate the beers – we get better at knowing you and what you like.”

Craft beer, says Reeve, is more diverse than wine. “There are so many different styles and within each style so many methods of brewing.” And as with wine, it works well with food, especially meat and cheese. So what’s popular at the minute? “There’s a huge love for IPAs (India pale ale) that are hop forward, so very refreshing, usually with citrus and fruit flavours. Double IPAs are also big this summer.”

But what if beer’s not your bag? You simply haven’t met The One, says Reeve. “I think there’s still this perception of beer as pints of fizzy yellow liquid. If someone says they don’t like beer, give them a passionfruit and hibiscus Crate Sour by the Crate Brewery, Or try something like the Millionaire by the Wild Beer Co, with chocolate and salted caramel flavours. There’s an ale for everyone.” Bottoms up!

 Honestbrew Honestybox 6


Host your own beer tasting – here are Andrew’s top tips:

  • Go for a mixed selection of six beers. It should include a few pales, ambers, some darker varieties then sours. If you know a guest isn’t keen on dark beers, ask them if they like coffee – if so, they’ll love coffee milk stout. Coffee is the added ingredient that goes into the fermentation and the lactose in it gives it a creaminess.
  • “Beer tasting is a proper science. Glassware impacts the taste just like wine. A lot of flavour comes from the aroma. We tend to use tulip style glasses, but thirds and half pints are also good. It’s about drinking less but more interesting varieties. We tend to only sell 330ml bottles – people don’t really drink pints of craft beers. Temperature is a big impactor. If served really cold, it will keep a lot of flavour. If served warmer, the flavour will be different.”

    TOAST'S Tip: Drinkstuff have a variety of glassware perfect for your craft beer tasting, like these Tulip Bacchus Poco Grande Tulip Beer Glasses, shaped after the classic Belgian tulip beer glass style, £17.99 for six. If you're going for style for your tasting, the Beer Tasting 6 Piece Set from Final Touch is ideal for sampling different varieties at a reasonable £24.99. Featuring four different glasses, including wheat beer, tulip, porter/stout and pilsner tasting glasses, all presented on a wooden paddle, this set makes a great gift for any beer lover.

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Honest Brew boxes from £19.90. For 50% off your first taster kit, visit https://honestbrew.co.uk/toast-life


Posted in Food and Drink

by Alix O'Neill
on on 18 August 2016

  craft beer

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