No News or Nuggets

We’re both on our travels so this is a little scheduled post to break the sad news that there’ll be no round-up of links to go with your breakfast today.

Elsewhere, however, there is Stan Hieronymus’s Monday round-up — particularly spiky this week! — and this long article on third wave coffee, flagged by regular commenter Dave S, is worth a read.

And our fortnightly c.120 word columnette should be in the Guardian Guide today.

If you still want more check out our Twitter feed (you don’t need an account) where we keep up a steady stream of re-Tweets of interesting posts and articles.

Detail from Édouard Manet's The Cafe Concert, 1878: a glass of beer.

Juicy Bangers vs. the Periodic Table of IPA

Beer styles are hard work, so why don’t we sometimes talk instead about the ways in which different types of beer act on our palates and emotions, or the social functions they perform?

When Chris Hall wrote about ‘juicy bangers’™ last week, something seemed to click:

It captures in two words everything I look for from my first beer of the night: a full-bodied but brightly refreshing, finely-balanced beer of big flavour yet peerless drinkability. It’s become a hallmark by which I measure a brewer. If they can brew a Juicy Banger, a beer loaded with assertive, juicy hop character but one I could happily drink all night, and by the pint, then they’re all right by me.

What’s great about this is that it sidesteps some of the tedious argument over nomenclature in the context of ever-sub-dividing style categories: “It’s ridiculous to say this isn’t hoppy enough for an imperial IPA when the label clearly declares it to be a double session West Coast IPL!”

Instead of fretting about the historical definition of a style vs. its practical usage today, we can just look at the beer in our hand and ask (in a manner of speaking), “Is this an upper, or a downer?”

We’d probably be quite happy in a pub which aimed to offer:

  • a juicy banger™
  • a hearty warmer
  • a background beer and
  • a spicy weirdo.

The purpose of this post is mostly to flag Chris Hall’s piece, so probably best to comment on juicy bangers™ over there, but do feel free to suggest some categories of your own below.

Updates to Our Lists & Guides

Psst! Up there ↑ in the top navigation bar there are quite a few interesting bits and pieces.

That’s where we keep pages (permanent) as opposed to posts (transitory) and under ‘Guides and Lists’ you’ll find things like links to local pub guides around the blogoshire and advice on how to go about becoming a fully-fledged beer geek.

But we really just wanted to flag that we’ve made added a new page with advice on buying gifts for beer lovers, ready for Christmas 2014.

Illustration: red coffee cup.

Bewildered by Coffee

Our experience in a smart independent coffee shop in Falmouth this weekend gave us a glimpse into how many people must feel when they enter a craft beer bar.

We like coffee, but (as with whisky, wine, cheese) we don’t know very much, having not chosen to expend any mental energy reading on the subject, or forcing ourselves to concentrate as we consume. We’ve picked up a few nuggets of folk knowledge here and there, and think we can spot a bad cup of coffee in the wild, but that’s about it.

Walking through the door of Espressini Dulce on Arwenack Street, we were confronted by… well, not much. There was a blackboard with descriptions of four varieties of coffee and, once it had been pointed out to us, a minimalist list of methods of preparation –espresso, cortado, and so on.

We didn’t know what to do — what was the difference between the varieties of coffee? Would we be laughed out of the place for drinking anything other than espresso? So we just stood there, as if our operating systems had crashed.

Noticing our confusion, the chap behind the counter offered assistance, and we confessed our ignorance. He explained how the top two blends were available for espresso; and described their respective flavours with references to chocolate and red berries.

After all that, we went for one of each, cortado-style: here, we realised, was a chance for our first ever comparative coffee tasting experience!

And they both tasted… really nice. We could tell they were different, but didn’t detect chocolate, berries or smoke. Just coffee. Coffee with hints of coffee, and underlying coffee notes.

Yes, for a brief moment, we were those people beer geeks roll their eyes at: “It all tastes like beer to me — what do people normally have?”

News, Nuggets & Longreads 18/10/2014

Pint of beer illustration.

“Ha ha, bacon, ha ha, all the bacon, ha ha, it’s funny how people keep mentioning bacon! Bacon o’clock! Hahahahahahahaha! BACON! Hrr, hrr. Bacon. Yeah. Bacon.” Yeah, hilarious. Here are some links.

→ A potentially interesting development: Justin Mason and Ed Razzall have been working together on a beer guide for East Anglia.

→ Ten Inch Wheeler, who is handy with words as he is with a camera, recounts a pub crawl from East London to Marylebone:

Telegraph Man wants to know if Yorkshire will go for devolution if Scotland separates. A pure Bradford boom-voice declares that they should have marched on Downing Street after the end of the Tour De France. Big laughs.

→ Finding fresh things to say about familiar territory, and fresh ways to express it, the ever-readable Beer Nut explores Bamberg and the surrounding area in several instalments: 1 | 2 | 3

→ Saved to Pocket: long-running technology magazine Wired has a piece on exactly how Halve Maan plan to run a pipeline for beer under the medieval heritage-protected city of Bruges.

→ Martyn ‘Zythophile’ Cornell marked yesterday’s 200th anniversary of London’s Great Beer Flood by reminding us, first, that a lot of the stories are simply made up, and, secondly, that real people really died.

→ We love reading J. Kenji López-Alt’s painstaking ‘Food Lab’ articles at Serious Eats this cassoulet recipe, based on extensive research, is great. Is there a beer equivalent of his work? Someone should get on that, if not.

Special supplement

Purely for the record, and in case you missed them, this week’s controversies, contrived or otherwise:

CAMRA’s sexist leaflet: original petition | commentary by Rowan Molyneux, with extensive discussion | commentary by It Comes in Pints?  Part 1 and Part 2 | commentary by Pete Brown | and one of several heated discussions on Facebook.

→ Just as the Great British Beer Festival has tended to do, the Independent Manchester Beer Convention has triggered a round of soul-searching and (mostly civilised) argument: Phil didn’t go because he didn’t like the look of it; Tandleman agreed with some of Phil’s observations, but generally gave IndyMan the thumbs-up; Richard at the Beercast wondered whether they might not both have a point about elitism; and Emma at Crema’s Beer Odyssey gave voice to the irritation of dedicated IndyMänner.

→ Over the Atlantic, there’s been a brouhaha over so-called ‘pay-to-play’ — that is, bigger breweries bribing their way on the counters of bars at the expense of smaller breweries. The best summary, with links out, is Jeff Alworth’s — part 1 and part 2. (Beer geeks love a conspiracy theory.)

→ And, finally, GQ fished for web traffic by giving chef David Chang to have a pop at craft beer. Beer geeks were outraged, as was the intention. GQ fished for a bit more attention by letting Brooklyn’s brewmaster Garrett Oliver respond the next day. Annoying as this kind of contrived ‘Brad slams Angelina’s ex’ nonsense is, there’s no denying Oliver’s rhetorical talents — his piece is very funny.

Brew Britannia Business

→ Aaron Stein at Whatchudrinkin? has written a few posts referencing Brew Britannia, and, in particular, comparing the UK and US experience, including this one about ‘rich old dudes’.

→ And Beer writer Tim Hampson says…

Writing about beer and pubs since 2007