A crazy journey

Ferment editor Richard Croasdale looks back over nine years of craft beer discovery


We’ve always tried to avoid looking inward too much at Ferment – there are so many exciting things happening in and around the beer world that focusing on what Beer52 is doing behind the scenes feels like a waste of everyone’s attention. As we hit our milestone ninth birthday though, the club is evolving, with some great new members of the team and a renewed sense of purpose, which will hopefully be reflected in even bigger adventures and even better beer in your monthly box.

It certainly feels like we’ve come a long way from a handful of beer lovers in a loft in Edinburgh’s New Town, effectively making it up as we went along. As well as greatly expanding our team – a couple of whom you’ll read more about in the coming pages – we’ve worked hard to improve every aspect of what’s happening behind the scenes, so your beers arrive at your door faster, fresher and completely reliably every single month.

One thing that hasn’t changed is our thirst for adventure, and we’ve been fortunate enough to travel the world in search of the very best beers and the amazing stories behind them. From California to Iceland, South Africa to North Korea, we’ve done our best to throw ourselves into the authentic local culture, making memories, forging lifelong friendships and – on several occasions – breaking bones in the name of craft.

Lockdown was, of course, a terrible time for everyone in the brewing industry, but we found ourselves in the uniquely fortunate position of growing quickly, as drinkers turned to online services like ours to buy their beer. Our excitement at welcoming new members was obviously tempered by the huge damage being wrought on the wider industry, in the form of layoffs and closing pubs and breweries. But lockdown also helped crystalise an idea that had always been an important part of our philosophy: being a force for good in the movement we love.

With breweries scrambling for alternative sales channels to keep the lights on while the pubs remained shuttered, it was an honour to be able to work with a wider selection of top UK brewers than ever before. As well as the regular monthly subscription orders, we held six Cyber Fest online beer festivals, sending out big boxes of our favourite beers, which we paired with live evenings of music, comedy, dance and other entertainment.

We love the active community of craft beer adventurers that has grown with us during this time, and are particularly grateful to those who have been with us from the very beginning. I can hand-on-heart say that every one of us here loves beer, is genuinely excited by each new box and spends every day trying to make our club an even more rewarding thing to be part of.

As we continue to grow and reach new corners of the beery world, we also try our best to be a good citizen, and bring our values into everything we do. That’s why we’ve been certified carbon neutral for a couple of years now, and do everything we can to further minimise and offset our environmental impact. We do our best to highlight voices that might otherwise struggle to be heard in the beer world, and continually review who we work with, to ensure their values are consistent with our own.

Ultimately, Beer52 started as a journey, both in the sense of travelling the world in search of great beer, and developing our own understanding and appreciation of the drink and the culture that surrounds it. Starting along this road though, I admit wondering how we could possibly fill a monthly magazine (let alone a box) without repeating ourselves every six months. I needn’t have worried; the journey is very much ongoing, and our main challenge has always been representing the sheer volume of exciting new developments in our limited space. It’s a nice problem to have.

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