MELISSA COLE An award-winning beer and food writer and a trained sommALEier, Melissa Cole penned 2017’s The Little Book of Craft Beer, and writes for the likes of The Guardian and Ferment. She’s also been kicking arse for women’s rights in the industry and The Daily Telegraph described her as “the woman taking the beard out of beer.” Tell us about your first experience of drinking a beer? I recently opened up a little wooden box that smelled like my late granddad’s aftershave. It gave me back the memory of being little and sitting in a pub garden, where he held his nutty pint of bitter to my lips for a sip. I can still smell the smoke on his fingers and the Old Spice and Brylcreem he always used. Got any other formative memories of early drinking to share? Oh god, my formative drinking years were full of cheap booze and regret. But that’s ok, it’s the right of passage to the good stuff! You’ve done a lot to champion women in the UK beer industry. Have we finally reached the point where being female and involved in beer isn’t a surprise anymore? We aren’t there yet, I still get surprised reactions from pretty much everyone as I’m sure most female brewers do. I think true equality is over a decade away, but at least people don’t look at me like I’ve got two heads anymore!
What do you get up to when you’re not writing about beer? I cook a lot and I do Bikram yoga. I used to play cricket and I’d love to get back to that, but I probably need to spend more time with my muchneglected husband and friends. If you had to pick a favourite style of beer, what would it be? I just can’t, I’m sorry. The closest I could get is cask ale because it’s well brewed and kept, it delivers drinkability in spades and it’s pretty much a drink unique to our shores. But I just love all types of beer. What’s the most you’ve ever paid for a beer? I’m not sure to be honest. It was probably Denmark because it’s such an expensive country, but I’m just not price sensitive, which you can read as meaning ‘a feckless wastrel with money’. What beer do you always have in the fridge at home? I get sent so many samples from breweries, that I rarely have room for anything else, but I do like to have a couple of cans of sessionable beers in there. I like the ability to grab a sub-5% beer at the end of a long, hard day. Aside from the beer, what’s your guilty drinking pleasure? I never feel guilty about drinking other drinks. I think if you’re so obsessed with beer that you don’t drink anything else, you can’t relate properly to others. I have a deep love for great rum and am rather partial to a G&T too. How much do you know about the beer scene in Nottingham? Brewery-wise I know of Welbeck Abbey, Brewster’s and Black Iris and I know there are loads more for me to try when I get there. But, I’ll be honest, I’m a bit more shaky on the pub scene. I look forward to learning more. Tell us about your event at Nottingham Craft Beer Week…. I’ll be doing an event at Bunkers Hill which is £10 a ticket for a number of beers and some good chat with some scurrilous stories so, bargain! I’m also looking forward to going to the Craft Beer Festival at the weekend. In a sentence, what is it you love most about beer? It’s a social lubricant. What do you think the future holds for craft beer in the UK? There will be continued growth but also some consolidation, purely because there isn’t enough quality out there to sustain the numbers financially. We need to focus more on quality and not the latest hype beer. Melissa Cole will be at Bunkers Hill on Thurs 14 June from 8pm. Tickets are £10 (includes six thirds of beer) from bunkershillnottingham.co.uk letmetellyouaboutbeer.co.uk
12 Nottingham Craft Beer Week