Jolly Good Beer – for the most part it is all in the name, we love good beer and want to bring it to you. Jolly Good Beer’s birth came from finding that pubs in our core area were unable to get the beers we love, or represent the beer diversity we want to see. We knew the breweries well already, we knew the pubs… join the dots.
At heart the primary purpose of Jolly Good Beer is to get great beer, in great form, from breweries to the mouths of beer drinkers.
What we do
Supply producers prioritising quality and consistency
We select the beers and brewers we deal with carefully – with an eye for quality. It doesn’t mean we only sell totally mad beer, we’ve got everything from lagers by fairly large breweries through to some of the maddest stuff on the market. We want consistency and quality – and want to reliably supply pubs, bars, and off-licenses with consistency and quality.
Independent business over multinationals
We sell “craft beer” – we’re not religiously “craft”, but it is the niche we’ve chosen to work in. The UK does not have any recognised definition of “craft” – so how can we claim this? Nothing more sound than to say we work with independent breweries – most of them “micro” (not all), but none of them parts of multinational conglomerates and similar. For the most part our suppliers are owner-operated microbreweries.
Upholding the quality from our part of the chain
We keep beer well – this isn’t usual, and we wish it was. We’re one of the very few distributors who respect the product enough to run coldstorage to keep it in. The physics of this is simple: heat is energy, energy creates change. The goal of Jolly Good Beer is to supply product in a “brewery fresh” state – our best breweries have coldstorage, thus so should we.
Quality right up to the customer’s glass
We encourage customers to keep their beer well and guide them on best practices in doing so. This might mean getting a fridge for pale hoppy beers, which suffer the most from warmth and time. In a market where warm shelfbeer is the status quo it a little goes a long way to putting yourself a shelf higher. Eventually we want to see coldstorage through to retail as the standard for “craft beer” – but realise there is a long way to go before this is viable. In draught we install best-of-breed craft beer dispense systems, with better than standard equipment – it pours better, it cleans better, it dispenses better beer better. We don’t merely sell products and forget about them.
Warm beer is sad beer.
Cold beer is Jolly Good Beer.
The seed is planted
After volunteering with CAMRA for years to organise the beer festival orders and cellar training, Yvan ponders why it’s so difficult finding the great beer he sources outside the festivals.
Visiting breweries like Moor and Hardknott in person to pick up and/or return casks, the conclusion he draws from both brewers and publicans was that no-one serviced East Anglia.
What seemed another exhausting multinational buyout of the tech company he worked for, Yvan bites the bullet and pushes for escaping into the beer industry.
Many great people were sought for practical ins-and-outs of beer distribution; at this stage one great brewer’s advice established what is considered our raison d’etre: “for maintaining quality, first get a coldstore”.
Jolly Good Beer was born
The first vehicle – dubbed the ‘Jolly Yellow Van’ – was purchased in January. A self-storage site was designated as the ‘warehouse’ using one of their 20ft refrigerated containers, which had the room to expand if needed. It was here and when the very first casks were stored in that single container…
Jolly Good Beer does London
Agreeing to the first-ever event was the easy part; building the dispense to do the job at such an early stage of the business was… interesting… This marked the slippery slope of delving head-first into dispense outside a CAMRA context, starting with the Jolly Yellow Beer Wall Mk I.
A proper coldstored warehouse!
Purely by luck, after years of searching for suitable sites a warehouse site was found with an inbuilt coldstore – no more hand-balling stock! After running 3 refrigerated containers on a site that could only run 4, in addition to the tiny footprint these offered it was a relief to get more space! Pity about the timing though…
A showcase cellar – in mobile form
A massive upgrade in events equipment, and a practical showcase for what we stand for as an endpoint for customers: the mobile coldstore direct-draw was built (dubbed the “(Pablo) Esky Bar”).
Its inaugural event at Cambridge Beer Festival further cemented our vision for quality: from our coldstore, using the refrigerated van (which came later in the year) and stored cold immediately – there’s no denying that this is a ‘coldchain’. In addition, the direct draw system was much easier to use as the products remained more stable and less intervention was required for pouring serves.
A step further for coldchain
Months earlier, Jolly Good Beer gains a HGV operators license so it can operate larger vans. This proved timely: the first refrigerated vehicle was added to the fleet in December. Though initially under pressure for brewery pickups, what seemed to be a hasty purchase proved invaluable for what 2019 wrought.