I caught up with Karl over a pilot brew. Karl works at the Goods Shed selling bread and beer and is our main beer buyer.
How did you get into beer?
I’ve always liked the taste of beer. I got told that I used to drink the froth from the top of shandy when I was 3 years old. But I haven’t been into craft beer for that long, maybe because as a standard northerner I was put off by the price. In terms of drinking – I started off drinking stuff like Lambrini on Grimsby’s street corners, and then moved to the more civilised lager. Then I got interested in real ales – Bishops Finger got introduced to me by my uncle and became a favourite for a while – and that was back in Grimsby before I came to Kent. I really liked Newcastle Brown and still do – warm of course. I also remember drinking Old Peculiar for the first time and thinking, what is this?! Took me a little while to grow into that one.
It wasn’t until maybe 3 years ago that I started drinking craft beer, but probably only a year and a half since I started trying out new breweries and actually going out my way to find and explore craft beer in the shops.
When I first tried craft beer it was Beavertown, Brew Dog – mainly the ones you get in standard pubs, and big chain supermarkets. But then I sometimes went to the Bottle Shop and actually I mainly had Belgian and wheat beer there as that was a favourite of my friends. That was the first proper craft place I tried – really specialising in high end, cold distribution stuff. Some of the stuff was quite rare which was quite interesting too.
Then I discovered the Thomas Tallis in Canterbury which was hidden away but had a great beer selection that was always changing. I still go there every now and then to see what they have got.
Which brewers do you like?
I really like Brew York at the moment- especially their fruity stuff. There are many others that I get excited at when I see on shelves and pumps however: Northern Monk, Yeastie Boys, North Brew, Alphabet Brewing to name a few. I am into my hoppy, citrus stuff, but I am currently into beers with a malty taste to them. I also really like Milk and Imperial Stouts such as those from The Kernel, Bristol Beer Factory, Moor, and Brew York’s Imperial Tonkoko which really works well with the combination of strong, smooth flavours with the high percentage. I aim to get more stouts and porters the chillier it gets at the Goods Shed!
What are you interested in trying more of?
I quite like fruity beer that has quite a kick – in terms of fruit additions, for example when there is lemon in beer, I get quite excited. I like the Brew York Simon Le mon and their Goose Willis one is really good as well. I would say I’m not necessarily a sour superfan though, so I look out for fruity beers that don’t knock you dead with sourness, Milkshake IPAs seem quite good for that at the moment. I’m still trying to find a New England IPA that I really like.
In terms of buying for the Goods Shed I’m trying to get at least one thing from the north each time. You don’t really get much northern stuff in Canterbury or Kent and I like bringing a bit of home to the shelves. As I am from Humberside I am interested to source breweries from that region too if I get a chance (Bone Machine (Hull) and Docks Beers (Grimsby) are on my hit list). Everything we have had from Scotland has been amazing too, so I will try and source more of that stuff – there is a brewery called Vault City that I am keeping an eye out for from Edinburgh. I really like whisky as well – really smoky like Talisker and that kind of stuff. I love it when whisky tastes medicinal too, so if I find any beer that does this in a good way I may have to try and purchase that for the shelves too.
Why did you apply to this job?
I saw a job for Beer and Bread Seller and it made me laugh. It sounded kind of medieval and cool, and as I love history it had to be for me. I of course like beer and bread and envisaged a joyful job where I’d cart bread and beer around with a donkey going from village to village.
As for location, I knew the vibe of the Goods Shed already, I like how it’s all green and no plastic, and a really chilled place to spend some hours of the day.
Since I have access to an expert – one fact I wanted to check with you was about ancient Egyptians having ground-down teeth because of sand getting into their bread.
That’s the same in most ancient societies due to the course millstones and quern stones used to grind the flour. Bits of stone would come off the grinding apparatus and inevitably get sandwiched in the flour and baked. So yes, you get ground-down teeth everywhere where these stones were used. In Egypt, like the Mediterranean, they used very big millstones that were pulled by donkeys as well as smaller quern stones that were used in many places including ancient Britain. As it happens, older bread had stronger fibres too and this used to be another reason for teeth being ground-down. But generally teeth decay was also a big problem in many societies due to disease and malnutrition which was dependent on many different factors.
Well thanks for that insight Karl and good to talk to you.
You can find Karl regularly at the Goods Shed in Canterbury, he’s always happy to chat about bread and beer.