Malting Pot bottle shop, Brussels

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The night before the Brussels beer festival the misses and I were enjoying some beers in Le Grain d’Orge cafe and also were deep in conversation with the locals and during our chat we were recommended a beer shop called Malting Pot. With an address drunkenly scribbled onto the back of a beer mat we set out to visit the shop, as it was only a ten minute walk from our hotel in the Ixelles area.

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On the corner of Y shaped street is the small and smart looking bottle shop called Malting Pot. Dark wooden floors and shelves are presented neatly and have some really special beers arranged on them. This shop reminds me of a lot of the new beer shops popping up across the UK in the last couple of years.

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There are beers here that you most likely cannot get in any of the other bottle shops in Brussels and at much more of a reasonable price then most the other shops nearer the centre of town. There were beers from lots of new micro breweries that I have never seen before among these shelves and are organised into Brussel breweries, Flanders and Belgium specialties.

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There were some faces that I knew well as they also had a good selection of American and Mikkeller beers as well as a few British beers including Brewdog, Tiny Rebel and Thornbridge.

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The guy who owned it was very nice and talked us around the shop explaining what was from where and what type of beers they were. I highly recommend visiting this shop if you are after something a little bit more adventurous then your usual (although still brilliant) Chimay, Delirium or Westmalle etc.

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The beers I picked up I had never heard or seen before, La Mere Vertus – Une Sachee Triple, Mad Yeast – Mad Saison, Beryllium Erbium – Pina Calda IPA, Brasserie de Bastogne – Ardenne Stour & De Struise – Ypres Double Barrel Aged Flemish Brown Sour.

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Malting Pot

For more info check Malting Pot website 

#BeerBuddies

#BeerBuddies is a new part of my blog that I am putting together containing interviews with people that I have met either online or in person via sharing the same passion about beer.

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My first #BeerBuddies is with Trevor Jeffery of Billericay Brewing, when I first heard there was a brewery and bottle shop in Billericay I was over the moon that finally somewhere close and accessible to me would be making and selling decent beer. I first tried Mayflower Gold in The Alehouse in Chelmsford and was impressed. One of my favourite beer related evenings was at Billericay Brewing with a meet the brewer night with Logan from Beavertown. Billericay Brewing has gone from strength to strength over the last couple of years and I look forward to each progression of theirs. So I would like to thank Trevor for being my first #BeerBuddies and here we go…

1. You used to be a teacher, what was it that made you change your career and become a full time brewer?

I’ve always had a passion and love of beer and on and off been a home brewer for many years. My dad was a keen home brewer of beers & wines, making them out of anything he could find. I originally qualified as a chemist (I worked for an industrial paint company prior to going into teaching) and this background led to me following in my father’s footsteps as a home brewer. 4 years ago I went to Brentwood Brewery for one of their “Brewer for The Day” experiences with a couple of friends and enjoyed the day so much that I thought “I Could do That!” and here I am 4 years later with my own brewery.

2. You have recently completed the set up of Billericay Brewing Co microbrewery, for those who haven’t visited the brewery could you run us by your equipment and give us a little online tour?

Our premises in Chapel Street, Billericay is in 2 parts – The Essex Beer Shop (selling our own beers and beers from other Essex & London microbreweries plus UK & international guest ales) and the microbrewery.

The microbrewery is a 4.5 barrel plant and if you visit the shop you can view the brewery. Starting at the back of the brewery, it follows the brewing process:
2 water tanks (a cold liquor tank – CLT – and a hot liquor tank –HLT) for storing water (water is called liquor in the brewery) ready for brewing.
Mash tun – where the malted grains are soaked in hot water to extract the sugar, colour and flavours from the grain (the liquid is now called wort)
Copper (actually made of stainless steel, but traditionally were made with copper) where the wort is boiled with hops.
Hop back and Heat exchanger – after boiling of the wort the hops are filtered out and then the wort is cooled down.
2 fermenting vessels – the cooled wort is then pumped into one of two fermenting vessels. Yeast is then added and fermentation then takes about 1 week to convert the sugar into alcohol and produce the finished beer.
The finished beer is then either filled into casks or pumped to a bottling tank, from which we connect our hand bottling machine and we can fill into bottles.
We can produce 2 batches per week, but have space for a 3rd fermenter, which we hope to install in the New Year. Each batch is up to 1296 pints.

3. What is your thought process when creating a new beer?

Any beer I brew has to be one that I will enjoy drinking myself. I take inspiration from other beers that I have tried and enjoyed, knowing the likely combination of malt & hops that I enjoy. I’m still experimenting with styles of beer and now we are a commercial brewery I have to look at which styles we do not offer and which are likely to sell and take account of the time of year for the style of beer. However, it still has to be something I would like myself. Sometimes I have a name already for the beer and produce a beer to match the name, but often I know the beer I would like to create and then choose a name whilst brewing!

4. It is impossible to pick out one favourite beer of all time but what are the first three top beers you have had recently?

Very difficult to choose, but at this moment in time the beers that come to mind are:
Brew by Numbers Tripel using Mosaic hops
Weird Beard Something Something Darkside
Felstar Crix Forest
Of our own beers, the one I’ve enjoyed most was a bottle of Chapel Street Porter from our first batch (now over 6 months old)

5. Your beers have featured in many beer festivals this summer. What has been your favourite beer festival you have ever visited?

I think for the location, an early Chappel Beer Festival, before it became very busy. However, Chelmsford Summer on a hot summers day is pretty good.

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6. You used to home brew before going full time, a friend and I have started home brewing. What advice would you give to people who are just starting off brewing their own beer at home?

Keep it as clean as possible, be patient, try bottle and draught to see which you prefer, don’t give up if you get a disaster. If you are starting up, I’d go for the 2 tin kits straight away (better than using refined sugar). I went straight from this to my brewery, mainly because I did not have the space to try grain brewing. However, I think it is best if you have the room (and can afford the equipment) to try full grain brewing once you have mastered using the tinned kits.

7. Where are your favourite places to have a beer?

In the summer there is no where better than a good pub garden or by the sea. One of our favourite local holiday places is Wells Next The Sea and they have a ship which is a pub (The Albatross) and a pint of Woodfordes on the deck there is pretty good. In the winter a nice rich dark ale by the fireside is fantastic.

8. Beer has blown up in the last few years, there seems to be a new brewery opening up every week! Where do you see the beer scene going in the foreseeable future?

People always want to try new things in beer so there is the opportunity for lots of us small breweries. A few years ago a pub with Abbot Ale, Pedigree and Tetleys or something similar on tap would be a good pub – I think now people want a lot more than this with more variety, particularly locally produced ales.

9. Outside of brewing beer what are your other interests?

Brewing now is full time so does not allow much time for anything else! Spare time I have I give to my wife and 11 year old daughter – she plays viola and loves horse riding so a lot of time is spent watching her doing these. I also enjoy travel in this country & France, swimming (have done a few swimathons recently) & cycling, anything to do with science and visiting museums & art galleries.

10. Billericay Brewing has gone from strength to strength over the last couple of years, what plans have you got for the next year? With the success of brewery tap rooms opening up at breweries are you tempted to add a bar to your Billericay Brewery?

Our next step is indeed to open a brewery tap. We have started renting the unit next to the brewery and intend to move the shop there with a small bar too (planning permission pending) We already have a new licence so that you can drink beer at the brewery. Hope to move the shop and have a simple bar by Christmas.

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For more info on Billericay Brewing visit their website http://billericaybrewing.co.uk/ and their twitter https://twitter.com/BillericayBrew

Brighton Bier meet the brewer at LOSC

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The first time I had Brighton Bier was in the Leyton Orient Supporters Club last football season and I was instantly hooked! I think it was West Pier IPA which was on one Saturday after an Orient game. So half a year later or so when I was told the news that we were having a night of nothing but Brighton Bier on at the Supporters Club I was excited! This later advanced into a meet the brewer evening as the guys from Brighton Bier confirmed they were going to be joining us for the evening, awesome!

Nine different beers was showcased on the evening and what was really interesting was people’s reactions, from behind the bar I didn’t hear one bad comment about any of the beers but did however hear people say their favourite beer was one of each of the beers available. I guess this shows the quality of Brighton Bier and how good their brewing skills are across a range of different types of beer! I couldn’t really pick an outright favourite but the Dealers Choice #1 Black IPA and Fall Guy collaboration with Green King would probably be the two front runners for me. The coffee racer went down a storm with the people who attended as did the 7% under the table bier!

We were joined by the brewer Gary and Steve who as described by Gary does all the boring bits according to his children! There were two different talks from Gary which, for those that couldn’t attend, I will break it down…

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Gary on Brighton Bier
“Brighton Bier started as and currently still is a gypsy brewery. We’re based in a brewpub in Brighton that we don’t own, we run it for them and we brew their beers. We brew most of our beers from here and as we would grow we would find spare fermentation capacity. This is all in till a few weeks from now when we will own our own brewery. So in a few months we will be building our own brewery, it’s a pretty decent size as microbreweries go. Not only are we really excited about this it also means we have more control over when and where we can brew our beers.

It’s a phenomenally exciting time to be working in the brewing industry. Not just in this country there’s alot of new breweries and people are opening up all these flavours that have been long forgotten. All the new beer we brew goes through our pilot brewery, we got a really cool pilot brewery. It’s a 100ltr kit and the beers go through there before they are brewed at any of the host breweries.

The whole point of Brighton Bier is we’re forever learning. When you stop learning you cease to be a craft brewery you just become a production brewery. Everything you ever drink from us, and I hope this is the same in 10 years from now, will be evolving and changing for the better and if it ceases to be then we’ve lost the plot basically! Craft beer or a craft brewery is this kind of weird non defined expression but for us what that C word means is constantly learning and we’re always evolving our beers and we’re always trying new things. We’re happy to admit although we know what we’re doing we don’t know everything and we’re learning as we go along.

For Steve, I and Ollie (who couldn’t be here) it’s an incredible privilege to be here with you. We haven’t been to Leyton Orient Supporters Club before but we’ve heard so many god things and Ollie is always saying how good it is when he delivers here. We are an incredibly small brewery, we have aspirations of being a slightly bigger brewery with our own brewery and doing events like this is absolutely everything it’s about. I got into this business quite a long time ago and at times it can feel a very lonely pursuit, especially when your stuck in a bar and everyone is caining five pound pints of Peroni in three foot long glass. So it’s lovely to come to events like this and be surrounded by people who get it! Cheers and thank you for coming and we are Brighton Bier.”

Gary also introduced us to some of the beers that were available on the night…

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Gary on the Dealers Choice series
“Dealers Choice series, this is a new dream for us, it’s every brewers dream to be able to not brew the same beers everyday. We set a benchmark at ‘its an IPA’ or whatever and then we explore everything within that and we learn about everything we find. We will source all the best and most interesting hop and malt and experiment, but for us we want the consumer to know they’re always going to get an IPA that is bitter, punchy and flavourful.

The Black IPA (Dealers Choice #1), I have to be honest, is one of my favourite beers that we have done. There’s two hops in it which is mosaic and simcoe, personally we have gone out our way to drink alot of beers using mosaic hops recently because we think its a hop that people have got behind and we think it’s going to be a huge hop name for the foreseeable. My opinion is that it works great in dark beers, I think it’s more plumby, more berry and sort of citrusy.

The other dealers choice (Dealers Choice #2) is a more traditional pale IPA. This is actually the first bar to have it so please get online and let us know what you think. This has got HBC366 and colombus hops, HBC366 might sound like something you might get subscribed by a pharmacist but that will be Equinox hop, it’s an experimental developed hop that first come about last year. This Dealers Choice #2 is a classic IPA we’ve not tried to be over complicated. It’s dry hopped with colombus, which is prob the most defining ‘dank’ American hop. One of the most important things about this beer and the key thing to us is that it’s drinkable. We made a commitment when we started Brighton Bier that although we were massively influenced by travelling around countries like Belgium and America our commitment is the integrity of British Ale. This is incredibly important to us and being drinkable pretty much translates to pints! Beer is a volume product, it’s designed to be enjoyed in reasonable quantity so all our beers should be drinkable. Even under the table bier needs to be drinkable. We’re all about the UK we’re all about pints we’re all about cask ale.”

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Gary on Under the table bier 7%
“This is a bit of fun really. A lot of high ABV cask ale tend to be hard to drink so we thought this can’t be the way, surely it doesn’t have to be that way! We got into beers in Belgium and as you would know if you’ve been to Belgium their beers are terrifyingly easy to drink and often very high in alcohol. So we basically tried to mimic that in cask ale and we call it a high ABV pale ale although other brewers would happily call it an IPA but it’s not really in our eyes. When you drink it we’re fairly confident you’ll be happy and think it’s 5% ish and that’s because we brewed it using very common techniques in Belgium although very rare here in the UK but the techniques are not complex. But it means you can produce great beer at a high percentage in casks that isn’t chewy!”

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Gary on Coffee racer stout 6%
“This beer is very much keeping to what we are about, we collaborated with a local company in Brighton called Small Batch Coffee who are actually getting very big now. This is a beautiful rich 6% coffee stout with a lot of cold brewed coffee. Cold brewed coffee is literally coffee brewed over 24 hours or more in cold water rather than hot. We have used a Latin American coffee bean. You extract all of the flavour and all of the aroma but none of that bitterness that’s associated with a lot of coffee based beers. It’s not perfect, it’s the first time we brewed it and I hadn’t even tried it till I walked in the door today but I think it’s pretty decent.”

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It was a great night for both LOSC and Brighton Bier, for Gary it was great to get feedback on the beers being brewed. As I mentioned at the start it’s hard to pick a favourite but alongside the previously mentioned beers there has to be a huge shout out to Thirty Three a low ABV beer at 3.3%, a lot of people were saying that it put up a good fight agaisnt the best low ABV beer they’ve had which was Redemption’s Trinity. For me personally it is the best low ABV I have had! Redemption’s Trinity is also a great beer but for me Thirty Three just ever so slightly beats it to the finish line!

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It will be interesting to see Brighton Bier grow as I am confident that opening of their own brewery will push them even further. I look forward to this, hopefully seeing their beers in bottles and also hopefully back down Orient to enjoy a match day to enjoy a few beers and a game!

For more info on Brighton Bier visit www.brightonbier.com and @BrightonBierCo

Also in the same evening Leyton Orient Supporters Club were presented their double award for CAMRA East London and City Club of the Year and Greater London Club of the Year.

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Pick your own Beer Festival with Leyton Orient Supporters Club

Have you ever stood in a beer festival and thought “you know what I would love to see such and such beer on today”? Well now you can! This October Leyton Orient Supporters Club are letting you pick the beers! Send your beer lists of 1 beer to 30 beers to tonyroome@yahoo.co.uk and the beers that appear on people’s lists the most will be the beers on at the festival.

The only restrictions are they have to be cask ale not keg due to the set up in the bar.

Also if 5 or more of your beers appear on the festival list that was on your beer list then we will be giving you two free pints!

So get your thinking caps on and put together your list and send it to tonyroome@yahoo.co.uk and we hope to see everyone on October 30th and 31st in Leyton.

For more info check http://www.orientsupporters.org and keep an eye on @LOFCSupporters on twitter.

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Brighton Bier bar takeover and meet the Brewer night

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Mostly every other Saturday and a few Tuesday nights per season you will find me in the Leyton Orient Supporters Club. Those who don’t know I am involved with the committee there and I am extremely proud of the achievements for the club and for the hard work my fellow committee members put in to gain the CAMRA awards.

I don’t think there is another football club in the country that can claim to have as much involvement with real ale as us, with most Saturdays easily going through hundreds of pints of anything from 12 to 16 different beers throughout the day!

When we are not open for a football related event then it means it is either one of our beer festivals or it is a special one off beer night. Last season Marble Brewery from Manchester took over our bar with a fine selection of beers, Mighty Oak for our yearly Christmas celebrations and also had a night of some of the smaller London brewers. Our next night is a evening full of Brighton Bier, we first had their beer last season and it was an instant hit!

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Brighton Bier was set up when three friends combined their beer passion and ambition to put Brighton back on the brewing map.To achieve this they combined the original Brighton Bier Co with specialist cask and craft ale wholesaler WithSoul to bring a business that not only brews beer but also provides people with other great beers around the country.

The Brighton brewers themselves will also be joining us in East London for an evening sampling the following Brighton Biers Thirty Three 3.3%, West Pier 4%, Underdog 4.2%, South Coast 5%, Dealers Choice # 1 (Black IPA) 5.5%, Dealers Choice # 2 5.5%, (Under the) Table Bier 7%, Fall Guy 4.5% (Collaboration beer with Greene King) and Coffee Racer ?%. Coffe Racer being brewed especially for the night, brewed using coffee from Small Batch Coffee in Hove to make a stout that at the moment doesn’t have a definite % as of yet!

The date to put in your diary is Thursday September 25th, the doors open at 5:00pm and the first talk from the brewers will be 6:45pm and again at 8:00pm but they will also be around all night to chat, have a beer and answer any questions. As usual pints are £3 and there will be snacks on the night.

On top of all this we are delighted to say that we are being presented with two awards from CAMRA, the awards won are the East London and City Club of the Year and Greater London Club of the Year. The presentation will be held around 9pm and we hope you are able to come celebrate with us. Keep an eye on www.orientsupports.org, www.lofcsc.wordpress.com and @LOFCSupporters for any updates and more details.

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Nuetnigenough, Brussels

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I could make this the shortest blog post I have ever wrote…. “this meal is one of the best meals I have ever had”…. I could leave it there however my meal in Nuetnigenough really does need to be explained!

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A short five minute walk from Grand Place is Nuetnigenough, a small long narrow restaurant with tables running down each side of the room with two tables outside. There is a high wooden bar at the end where the drinks are prepared and depending on space you can wait there for a table to be free. Downstairs are the toilets and they are one of the nicest and poshest looking toilets I have seen around Brussels!

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The beer menu here is special featuring some rare gems in bottle and five draught taps. When we visited there were Saison Dupont on draught and their pils but also one hell of an incredible beer from De Struise Brouwers called Black Albert weighing in at a whooping 13% but gorgeously smooth, smokey, chocolate tastes. The barman talked us through his beers and was obviously very proud of their selection. We had a bottle of Schieve Tabarnak from Brasserie De La Senne, which wasn’t even in the brewery when we visited as the barman (who I think may have been the owner) had asked to take four of the last eight crates but then had cheekily convinced them to let him have all eight!

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Schieve Tabarnak is a collaboration brew between Brasserie De La Senne and the Canadian brewery Brasserie Le Trou du Diable from Quebec, it’s a sweet rye beer with a lip smacking bitter hop finish making the beer another top beer in De La Senne’s collection!

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We had already studied the menu and knew straight away what we wanted, I had opted for the saddle of rabbit in a Cantillon Gueze beer sauce and my misses had gone for the pork fillet in a Pius X beer sauce both with chips as we all know the best chips in the world are from Belgium! The previous time I had rabbit was also in Belgium in Les Brassins and was at the time one of my favourite meals, that time being in a Kriek cherry beer sauce, however Nuetnigenough has smashed that off the list and gone straight in at the best rabbit dish I have ever had, c’est parfait! The pork fillet was cooked perfectly and melted in your mouth, even the side salad was lovely (which was an added bonus as I didn’t know there would be a salad to share with the meal at all) and the homemade mayonnaise to dip our chips in was so good we had to ask for another!

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One sign of how good the food was that the two of us hardly said a word to each other as we ate, which I don’t think has ever happened! We were so engrossed by the tastes going on in our mouths!

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Prices are reasonable especially for the high quality of food matched with one of the most impressive menus of beer for rarities and different beers I had seen all weekend! We were very happy we visited and a trip to Brussels will now always include a meal in Nuetnigenough!

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Yall a Brewhead? I’m a Brewhead!

Since the growth of social media the world really has become a small place! Online #Beerbuddies across Twitter, Instagram and Facebook post pictures, write reviews and inform me on whats the best beers and where to drink them from across the world! My first look at American beers was because of Instagram, daily streams of photos of #BeerPorn filled my phones time walls and it was here that I bumped into Phil of Brewheads and Cee.

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Whilst scrolling down my Instagram feed my eye was caught by a glass and hat, usually after having a little look I scroll onto the next photo frantically double bashing my screen liking all the pictures I find interesting, however this time I am glad curiosity got the better of me and a little ‘What’s this all about’ led me onto discovering a great blog, Beer merchandise company and a new musician to add to my playlist!

Cee is a rapper who grew up in Australia then moved to Canada when he signed to the HiPNOTT record label and he has just put out an album called “this is all I know”. I am a huge Hip Hop head and back in the days of college, believe it or not, you would have found me digging through vinyls, writing rhymes and recording some tunes with my mates in college and was a familiar face in the Essex Hip Hop scene! My days of drinking beers in the vocal booth are long gone but you will find classic Hip Hop, Reggae, Soul and Funk on my headphones and I regularly still moan about the current state of pop music! So it was a pleasant surprise to see this rapper making the type of Hip Hop I like and also a full blown beer fanatic! And it gets better not only is Cee posting pictures of great beers he has also recorded a Hip Hop anthem for craft beer called Brewheads, which has pretty much been on repeat since I first heard it a few weeks back! Brewheads is a track by Cee which is dedicated to the whole craft beer movement and raps about beer throughout the verses unlike any other song I have heard. He got together with Phil of Brewheads to make the video which was premiered last week and you can see below (hopefully).

So through this pictured posted I see that Cee has an album coming out and in celebration of this he has teamed up with Brewheads to bring us a special beer glass, hat and box of beer goodies. While some of us over here in the UK may use the terms beer snobs, beer geeks etc Phil, the founder of Brewheads, has given us the collective name of Brewheads and to support this has an excellent range of Brewheads craft beer merchandise.

So after a few emails back and forth chatting about beer and our blogs between Cee and myself and Phil and myself I made a few purchases including the special Cee x Brewheads collaboration. I could have bought more on the website as the Brewheads gear is awesome especially the “she’s so crafty” girls vests which would have been a great present for the misses if they hadn’t nearly sold out due to being so popular! Here’s a look at the bits I got…

Cee x Brewheads glass
A cool glass in a design I don’t have to add to the collection. Feels good to hold and has a Cee and Brewheads design in gold on the sides. The packaging this came in was good too, never seen the protective material they used to keep the glass safe. Instead of the usual bubble wrap this was made from paper and I presume a recycle material! Great idea!

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Cee x Brewheads snapback hat
This is what caught my eye first off, a black hat with gold design on front as well as gold barely and the very original designs black and white hops on the underside of the peak! Looking double fresh in this! Even suits the dog!

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Hop t shirt
Like the hat design this t shirt has a hop design on the pocket and really is one of a kind and looking very original! I was told I am the first one in Europe to get these items too so def an original piece for me! The quality is really good too, it also came in a cool box!

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Cee – This Is All I Know
I have given this album a few listens now and it’s a really solid album. Fans of artists like Intuition, Atmosphere, Ugly Heros, Shad or any form of non commercial hip hop will enjoy this album. The strongest track is the utter banger “Brewheads” but also other tracks such as “don’t mind me” featuring Ras Kass and “times of our lives” are strong tracks too. After Brewheads though my favourite track is “no conversation” this is the type of song that makes me want to get back into music again!

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So it’s funny what a simple comment can lead too! The Brewheads blog is a brilliant blog too I have added to my online library and I look forward to hearing future Cee tracks and hope the album does well! I recommend their online shop too so have a look Brewheads!

http://www.thebrewheads.com/

http://themovementfam.com/

http://ceetmf.bandcamp.com/

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