Godspeed, a collab IPA with Hops and Crafts
Chris from Hops & Crafts is moving back across the pond. Farewell Chris.
We met Chris from Hops & Crafts, Exeter, at Bristol Craft Beer Festival back in 2016. It was during the period we now call ‘Can We Kill Adam’. We didn’t and we’re pretty sure he’s indestructible. Anyway, Chris introduced himself to Adam and they struck up a relationship that lasts right up to this blog post and hopefully beyond.
From that initial meeting in Bristol, Chris invited us to come and pour at his first birthday party. We rocked up on a Saturday morning and we served Lightbulb & Headband from 330ml cans for his customers. We can honestly say that Exeter wasn’t the hot bed of Craft Beer at hat time, but what Chris and a handful of other establishments were doing, was admirable.
Before moving to Exeter in 2012, Chris had spent eight years in Fort Collins, Colorado. Even though it had a similar population to Exeter, the beer scene was entirely different. In 2004 there were already five microbreweries - that was back when they still called them micro, not craft!
When Chris and his family left in 2012, there were eight and that peaked somewhere over 20 a few years later. That was where he really developed a taste for craft beer. It went beyond the number of breweries, there was a serious beer culture in which most people in town loved their beer and knew a lot about it.
Brewery taprooms were where you took guests from out of town or where you went any day of the week to try some new project beer the brewers did just for fun. It was amazing. His love for Belgian beers started in Fort Collins, too, at the hugely popular hometown brewer gone rockstar big - New Belgium Brewing Co. They have since expanded their range (and sold up/out), but used to do exclusively Belgian style beers. Combine that with the American liquor stores where you could go in and choose from dozens if not hundreds of beers, and you'll see why he felt like Exeter was a letdown in the beer department when they moved there.
To say we were spoiled for choice in Fort Collins would be an understatement.
After moving to Exeter he was longing for a better selection of beer. He remembers complaining about the beer to some new friends and them being baffled, as they thought the beers in the South West were really special. The problem was that it wasn't what he was used to and it was a long time before he began to appreciate the traditional ales.
And even then Chris never found anything that excited him in the same way as those Colorado beers. Then in June 2013 he did a two week bicycling trip through Belgium that blew his mind. He was astonished at the depths of the Belgian beer pool. He had had a number of Belgian beers back in the States, but the volume of good beer totally reset any tastebud change he'd undergone in the previous year living in the UK.
Once again, He was ruined on British beer and desperate for something more impactful. He brought back as many bottles as he could carry in his bike's panniers and backpack - which we think was about 36 and it weighed a ton!
And then the Beer Cellar Bar opened up in Exeter, the world opened up to the British craft beer movement. The first beers he had were from The Kernel, Magic Rock and Wild Beer, and it was like a dream come true. The trouble was that it was still only four taps and a few bottles. But there was hope!
Then 2015 rolls around and after three years of being a stay-at-home dad, his daughter was set to start school in the Autumn. Originally they thought the move would only be for two years. And then he got this idea - why don't I open a bottle shop? I mean, why wait for somebody else to do it. I love beer and I know a good bit about it, so why not me?
It was in July that Chris took his first real step when he went and obtained his Personal License to sell alcohol. After that things moved pretty steadily along and he opened the shop in October 2015.
Sometimes I still sit back and think, "what the hell - how have I made this work for so long?"
But beyond the beer, the shop has been so much more fulfilling than he could have imagined. Chris has forged many connections with customers he never would have met and he’s seen many a person's eyes opened to the wonders of the modern beer world through the gateway of his shop.
This all leads us back to beginning of this post and Chris’s first year anniversary celebrations. We even came away from that event with the name for the Verdant Stout ‘Don't Fear the Ferryman’ after mishearing a customer talking about Exeter Brewery's Ferryman bitter.
And now Chris finds himself moving back across the pond and back to their home state of Georgia in the USA. So it's with a heavy heart that we’ll be losing Chris and his family as they will be leaving Exeter in August. But we’re ecstatic to see the shop live on under the guidance of Jack, who's worked with Chris for the past 2.5 years on a part-time basis. He's well seasoned in the Exeter beer scene having worked at some of it's most popular spots and we think he's the perfect person to carry the shop forward.
As for us here at Verdant, we can’t thank Chris enough for his custom over the past 7.5 years and he has to be amongst a handful of customers who has seen us grow over the years. Always a joy to do business with and we wish him and his family all the very best back in the good ol’ US of A. We continue onwards with Jack now at the helm of Hops n Crafts Exeter!
Thank you Chris and the team at Hops & Crafts Exeter. This GODSPEED IPA is for you and contains some of Chris' favourite 'C' hops to boot! Safe travels Chris, sup on these knowing the company you set up is in great hands.