How to turn a great idea into a complete train smash in one easy lesson.


Like many other people I got one of these in the bulging bag of presents Santa Clause left behind. I must have been a very good chap in the preceding year! A machine! That dispenses draught beer on demand! Sounds too good to be true.

I don’t know about you but I’m a sucker for a great idea and a good sales person. I like to be sold to, I really enjoy watching someone do it well and yes, it gives me a great feeling even though I know, and can see the techniques well demonstrated.

We used to call this service “The Pub” before Covid struck and we all had to bunker in to survive. In the process we all came together as a nation. And, tried to give the supermarket delivery guys and girls a bad back humping the heavy weight bottle and can filled baskets and a tin of beans to our front door. Recyclers have never had it so good as door step collections of glass and aluminium went through the roof.

The SUB beer machine seems like a Krupps idea and product. Essentially a chiller unit with a beer tap, it stores beer under pressure so that you can pour yourself a cold glass of draught beer right after that particularly difficult zoom meeting. The beer, in a limited variety of flavours, comes in sealed bottles called TORPS – because they look like torpedoes? The TORP itself ships with a single use plastic tap and it all slots into the machine very easily and quickly. Once emptied can just give the empty bottle to your friendly neighbourhood recycler for disposal.

We haven’t researched it but we are guessing that the whole system is wrapped up tighter than a ducks ….. in patents and intellectual copyright.

So, SUB’s and other similar machines sound like a great idea don’t they. And, how quick off the mark to see the potential market explosion for home drinkers have these start-ups been? The thing is it’s not as simple as the romantic tradition of independent entrepreneur, has great idea and defies the naysayers by taking it to market. We think that there is, in part, skulduggery here behind the scenes.

When you want to buy a refill, all roads lead to Beerwulf. A Netherlands based start-up whose global ambition is to be the world’s biggest supplier of craft beer to your door. If, like us, you like continental style beers, La Chouffe is a particular favourite, as much as home grown craft, the beer list has some attractions. Kegs are all 2 litres in size and prices start at around £9 and up delivered to the door, sounds OK.

If you search for an alternative Sub keg supplier in the UK you can find one, we did. On further investigation though they are on re-direct to Beerwulf and their email is shut down ( So, it seems that Beerwulf is slowly sneaking up on a monopoly or at least being the major player in the TORP resupply market. Big brand beer deliveries are also available from but not TORPS.

Problem is, that in our experience Beerwulf customer service is woeful. Our order took a month to be partly fulfilled. They just couldn’t seem to get anything right. The details of the transaction read like an exam question in how not to value your customers. Everyone can have a bad day, so we tested the system by ordering from a different email. at the time of going to press that still hadn’t arrived either. One major frustration is the (now obviously) over optimistic delivery date displayed with your order. If you know that your systems are suspect, why would you make a promise that it’s unlikely you’ll deliver on?

Don’t just take our word for it. Read the latest couple of pages of reviews on Trustpilot. Be sure to have a read of the two five star reviews (AGD Ltd – 5 reviews one for poor service on a previous “keg” delivery and Nath Andrews – just the one review in the back catalogue) as well. Two glowing reviews from happy customers in a landscape of negativity with a very similar message don’t you think?

At this point it may be important to point out that the money behind Beerwulf is brewing giant Heineken. In a business article published on line in Digital Business News in early 2019 Beerwulf, then CMO Marc Scholten, played down contact with the brewing giant Heineken to allay any suspicion that they might be pulling the strings on this nascent market. On the business website LinkedIn, he now lists his current position as urm…..Marketing Manager at the Heineken Company.

So far, so what. Brewing giant sees a business opportunity to grab a large chunk of a potentially huge new market utilising its own core product (many of the Beerwulf offer beers are brewed by…Heineken). Then, seeks to recover R&D investment by licensing the innovation,

Big companies, have big numbers, big collaborations and big resources. They became big in the first place for a reason. Do we imagine that they have written off the competition of whatever size as irrelevant? To the bigger players, independent breweries are a sign. A sign that things are changing. That their own stronghold is under attack, there is a movement afoot that threatens their monopoly and they need to innovate and take back control.

As consumers and as craft drinks diversify, this is not the time to be giving an existing monopoly player the upper hand again.  TORPS are a great idea; we’d just recommend, swerving the current big company hook-up with Beerwulf and waiting until TORPS are available at all good supermarkets and beer outlets. Will that happen? C’mon, Heineken et al are volume companies. They are about size and how much volume they can shift. The most efficient way of achieving that is a licensing deal with the supermarkets – yes, it’s going to happen and probably sooner (when the sales target for Subs is looking good) rather than later.

This what we like to call the Budgerigar effect. Budgies can live for 10 years in captivity. If the pet shop sells you a budgie at cost or below, they may also sell you the cage and toys to keep the little chap happy. They can then look forward to ten long years of seed sales. If Heineken can sell enough Subs and they also control the TORP market (via a proxy) ….. it’s all happy days for the brewing giant. Photo by David Clode on Unsplash

The real point for beer lovers everywhere is that recent times have seen a resurgence of great beers from innovative small producers. Local brewers, making small batch great craft beers. For the first time in years new pub openings have been spawned from just this demand for great beers and often opened by independent beer lovers or small breweries. The most difficult part of the job for small producers isn’t the making, it’s how you get your product to market. Independent pubs, beer shops and off sales perform this vital role. During Covid local brewers have worked hard on click and collect and local delivery schemes – give them a chance, do your research and make the effort and don’t torpedo the small local business – support local, support independent.

Research and background.

Finest Hour


Walk amongst the living remnants of history to enjoy the Great British craft beer and cider of today.


beer, craft beer, Finest Hour, Hillside Brewery, David Broadbent Photography, Summerhouse Studios,
Hillside Breweries craft special beer “Finest Hour” in support of the Royal British Legion to be launched at Gloucester Beer Festival.

Beer o’clock comes around awful soon doesn’t it? Yes it’s time to again to say “all hail to the ale” at the Gloucester city centre hidden historical secret – it’s the Gloucester Beer and Cider Festival at Blackfriars Priory on 22nd to 23rd April organised by Gloucester CAMRA.

This cathedral to the art of craft ale and cider making will once again open its hallowed doors of the cavernous hall and welcome beer fans from across the county and indeed the country. We visited last year and had a great time. The live music was good, the atmosphere was wonderful and it was nice to chat to the festival goers and absorb all that beer appreciation and chilled out vibe this festival always promotes.

The sad news is that Hillside Breweries “Anzac” the craft special brewed in support of the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal for last year’s event   is no more. Personally, I think that’s a shame since I loved it so much and always came home with a few whenever I was passing the Hillside Brewery shop at the Longhope hilltop redoubt. You never know what the future holds though – so there is always hope.

Lots of good news though in that the same great organisation (Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal) is the charity beneficiary again this year, and that Hillside have done it again and made another very tasty beer for the event. A little less ABV (3.6%) for this one to sit it firmly into the session beer category – we give you, Hillsides “Finest Hour”, ta da.

Hillsides impressive and decidedly upmarket new labels now also list the hops used in each brew. Hops, which is some case are completely new and could even be called experimental, all sourced from their usual long standing hop grower. Jester, Olicana and First Gold in Finest hour to give it a very pleaseant and subtle note with those hints of the tropical again for the more discerning nose. The symbol of the Poppy Appeal is also proudly displayed on the label so that too is a refreshing change to some of the PC and very weak excuses we hear for the bland nowadays. We? Well we just loved the taste and we think it’s going to be a real hit at the festival and beyond!

Honestly if you’ve never been to the festival before you are missing a real treat. If you like to weave in and out of very local people looking upward with their mouths open proclaiming that they “never knew this was here” you’ll realise just what a hidden treasure Blackfriars is (see our article on last years event). If you appreciate sampling the wealth of craft beers and cider available as an explosive reaction to the mass produced mega-brewery fayre this is the place to be. Or if you just fancy a nice afternoon in the city, chilling out with friends and a couple of beers, then fill your boots – you are going to love it and make space in your calendar for future events.



Provisional beer list as at 26th March is here

Twitter feed for the festival @GlosBeerFest

ANZAC Day beer special and The 3rd Gloucester CAMRA Beer & Cider Festival

beer, CAMRA, real ale, craft ale, ANZAC,

If you happen to be an Australian or a New Zealander, you’ll already know that 25th April is a very special day in the antipodean calendar. It is ANZAC Day and the remembrance of Australians and Kiwi’s who have died in conflict, this is a day deep in the down under psyche. Originally a day to remember those of the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZACS) who died in the failed attempt to capture the Gallipoli peninsula from the Ottoman Empire in April 1915 during the First World War. It was the first occasion that the joint expeditionary force took heavy casualties in that war and as such it has, ever since, been an important day for both nations.

beer, CAMRA, real ale, craft ale, ANZAC,
Hillsides special ANZAC beer for the 3rd Gloucester CAMRA Festival

Now though, ANZAC Day has come to be a more general day of remembrance for the dead and all of those who suffered in all campaigns and Aussies and Kiwi’s, wherever they are in the world, hold this day dear. In the UK there will be major events at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire and  I don’t think that I’ll ever forget the emotional tension at the ANZAC Day memorial at the Menin Gate in Ypres, Belgium a couple of years ago.

Essex Farm, copyrighted, war,
Essex Farm dressing station

And given that the dates of the 3rd CAMRA Gloucester Beer & Cider Festival coincide with ANZAC Day, and…the nominated festival charity is the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal, our great friends and beer geniuses over at Hillside Brewery have come up with their own fitting tribute. Quite fitting that such a sombre day is being marked by the creation of something many of those from the southern hemisphere would appreciate very much – a great beer. Personally, I think that it is a great, and touching, opportunity to commemorate ANZAC Day and in doing so to help out the charity, based in this country, which has similar goals and very close links with the ANZAC associations.

The beer will be officially launched upon us at the festival, being held at the impressive Blackfriars venue, Gloucester. We had exclusive access to the new ANZAC beer and spent a very pleasant hour conducting a very in-depth and scientific tasting session whilst sitting in our shorts outside on a glorious spring day in the Forest of Dean & Wye Valley.

Fosters – it is not! This is a full bodied craft ale from Paul, Derek, Will and the boys. We served it slightly chilled – it being “scorchio” at tasting HQ – and although it has body it tasted light and refreshing, with clear citrus tones and with mango coming through onto the palate. As the beer warmed in the sun, those flavours persisted throughout the tasting, as did the fabulous hop aroma you would expect from a Craft Special beer from Hillside. That hop flavour and aroma is created using British Challenger for the bittering blended, very fittingly, with Galaxy (passion fruit and citrus) and Rakua (more tropical fruit aromas) from Australia and New Zealand for that long lasting aroma.

All in all, we thought it was a fantastic beer. It’s sad when you recall the story behind it but we think that all those ANZAC’s from back in the day would have appreciated the sentiment in their honour so make sure you try at least one – especially on the 25th.


The 3rd CAMRA Gloucester Beer & Cider Festival kicks off proper on Friday 24th April and then you have to go back and do it all again on the 25th! Full information is on their website at and of course there is more information about all the beers from the Hillside stable at who also offer brewery tours and brewery experience days.

The product shot is a compilation done by us here in the WyeDean Deli Confidential studio. The back drop is a poppy cut into mild steel from the Essex Farm Dressing Station memorial site and the foreground is a shot of the battlefield debris as it would have looked and currently on display in the Tyne Cot Cemetery visitor centre, both of which are in the countryside around Ypres, Belgium

Official Brewery Tasting Notes:

On the nose is tropical fruit, pineapple and mango. The flavour is a full bodied, tropical fruit flavour with passion fruit, mango and pineapple with a caramel malt backbone with a slightly dry finish – leaving you wanting more. We have used Challenger which is a British hop for the bittering and Galaxy and Rakau from Australia and New Zealand for the flavour and aroma. 

The Rising Sun, Woolaston Common: Fab, wholesome and homemade Pies!

Maria, Landlady at The Rising Sun, Woolaston Common, in the kitchen standing over her homemade pies

John & Maria are seasoned pub owners, having been in the trade for 30 years and they have owned the Rising Sun, Woolaston, for 5 years. The pub (like John and Maria!) has plenty of character. This stone building is 400 years old and is located in the beautiful countryside that flanks this part of the River Severn. So, as you’d expect, the garden has spectacular views and it gets very busy in the summer. Continue Reading This Article