Part 1 – A Second Chance
“It were Celt,” Barry bellowed at me from down the phone.
3.33am. An ominous time on a wet Welsh morning in November. My alarm wasn’t due to go off for another three hours and twelve minutes. I wasn’t in the habit of taking calls at this hour; I had only accidentally answered the phone instead of switching it off. “What was Celt?” I mumbled.
“The first pint you ever gave us, in Tap House,” he said excitedly. It sounded like he was on the road. Somewhere in England, Barry was hustling industrial freezers before sane people were awake. What deviant needed to flash freeze a ton of meat at half three in the morning?
“Are you sure?” I tried to lower the volume on the phone. My wife was beginning to stir. It had been a long time since I had seen or drunk any Celt Beers in the Urban Tap House. Not since the Brigid Fire incident of February 2015. That stain is never going to come out of my favourite chair.
“Course I’m sure. It were lovely an’ all.”
“You said it tasted like a tramp’s foot,” I argued. My wife kicked me.
“Aye. That it did. Still lovely though, now I think about it.”
“Interesting if true, Barry. Good night.”
My wife rolled over, taking most of the duvet with her. I lay there, staring at a ceiling I couldn’t see, wondering what it could all mean. A bizarre call in the night from Barry about a beer he may or may not have drunk several months ago. Earlier that week I had also received an invitation from Simon Martin to the relaunch of Celt beer. Coincidence or Providence?
In May 2016, Celt Brewery ceased trading. It was the start of a bad year for Welsh beer. We already know 2016 has witnessed the deaths of many loved individuals, but also Celt Brewery, Waen Brewery and Otley Brewery have all, in a way, gone to the wall. Astonishingly, these had all been among Wales’ top breweries. On anyone’s list they all made the Top Ten. Personally they all made my Top Five.
It was equally bizarre, if at least promising, news when I heard Evan Evans had taken over the Celt brand. Evan Evans is more pipe and slippers with bran flakes for breakfast thank you very much, whereas Celt is the all-night rock star who only eats cereal if cocaine is poured all over it. And yet it is still promising – Evan Evans have the leverage to give the brand a second chance, and there is a niche in their portfolio for the type of beer that Celt represents.
The question was whether they would let Celt maintain its hoppy kick or if they would take the cocaine off the cornflakes. And even imitation isn’t enough in the long run – they would need to keep pushing Celt’s innovative angle. There was a lot to consider and too few answers.
In my mind I decided to accept the invitation, and then tried to claim my portion of the duvet back from my wife. She kicked me again and I figured half three wasn’t that crazy a time to get up.
Tomorrow, Part 2 – The Beer Relaunch