Friday 9 August 2013

On Magic Rock and Bombers

It's incredible that Magic Rock already feels to me like one of the lynch pins of the resurgent UK brewing scene, considering that if they were a human child, there's a good chance that at barely two years old they'd be pretty unsteady on their feet if they were walking at all. How they came to be and their growth is well documented (if you're not familiar with it have a read) but what has been the secret of their success?

I've written before about their obvious grasp of social media and if you've been fortunate enough to meet any of the team in person, their passion for what they do would've probably smacked you in the face harder than a swig of their flagship beer, Cannonball. That alone is not enough to ensure success however. In my mind their success can be distilled down to four things:

  • Developing and perfecting an exceptionally good and uncompromising core range of brews, which Head Brewer Stuart Ross should be pretty damned proud of
  • Keeping the beer geek audience on the hook with a good flow of seasonal and well executed one-off releases, covering a broad range of styles
  • Aggressive re-investment in expansion to meet growing demand
  • A kick-ass brand that retains its freshness and scales very well across all products in their various formats

This year they started to release some annual brews. Not a new idea by any stretch but so far the execution has been impressive. It started with Un-human Cannonball. An amped up version of their double IPA, Human Cannonball which in itself is an amped up version of Cannonball - arguably the country's best interpretation of the West Coast IPA style. From there it moved to Bourbon Barrel Aged Bearded Lady (Imperial Brown Stout), the second release of this particular beer but the first in the new format and using a different Bourbon barrel for variation. Finally, and I'm not sure if this is an annual release or not, it culminated in the recent release of Strongman, a Barley Wine that's been aged in Amontillado sherry casks. 

One interesting aspect of these releases for me is their adoption of the US 'bomber' format (660ml bottles, complete with screen printed labels and wax seals) which is quite a serving given the ABV of all of these three beers exceeds 10%. Perfect for sharing, or perfect for sipping through an evening of decadent self-indulgence. An occasion in a bottle. As I write, the latter has provided me with the perfect end to a busy week. 

Keep doing what you're doing please Rich, Stu, Scott, Giada and Joe. It's hitting the spot nicely!