Illustration: breakfast reading.

News, Nuggets & Longreads 01/11/2014

Before we get on to the feast of links, a quick reminder: the next round of #beerylongreads is scheduled for Saturday 29 November, and we’d love you to join in.

New Yorker magazine’s latest cover essentially held a mirror up to craft beer drinkers allowing them to see what they wanted to see: some were defensive, others flattered, while yet a third group chuckled with glee from the sidelines. Our favourite take on the whole business was Oliver J. Gray’s, which also elicited a comment from the artist himself, Peter de Sève.

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American porter caps on a historic map of the US.

Porter Tasting: Batch 5 — U-S-A! U-S-A!

The purpose of this exercise, for those who missed the previous posts, is to find a beer that suits us, with a view to selecting finalists for a ‘taste-off’ before buying a case to see us through the winter. It’s not ‘the best’ but something much more floaty and subjective.

Yes, you’ve rumbled us: we are making this up as we go along.

Having decided to include the new Guinness porters in our taste test, and thus already (kind of) looked outside Britain, we thought we might as well also try out four US porters readily available in the UK.

  • Odell Cutthroat (5.1% ABV, £2.75 355ml from Beermerchants.com)
  • Anchor (5.6%, £2.40 for 355ml @ Beermerchants)
  • Sierra Nevada (5.6%, £2.50 for 355ml @ Beermerchants)
  • Founders (6.5%, c.£2.50 (we lost the receipt) for 355ml @ the Bottle Bank, Falmouth)

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Illustration: Sweet Tooth brand can sugar cube.

“I just find it too bitter.”

Discussing the relaunch of Let There Be Beer today reminded us of just how often we hear the statement above uttered by people who dislike beer.

We ought to bear in mind every time we catch ourselves complaining that mainstream beers are bland or that, say, Sharp’s Doom Bar is too sickly sweet, that, for some, those beers are probably still too bitter.

We’re quite cured of the desire to ‘convert people’ these days, but if a beer sceptic asked us for a suggestion, we might point them to a gentle-but-quirky, barely-bitter-at-all German or Belgian wheat beer.

A still from the There's a Beer for That Campaign.

Let There Be Beer 2.0

Last year, big players in the beer industry banded together to run a campaign called Let There Be Beer.

Its ostensible aim was to raise the profile of beer in general terms but, in practice, it ended up being a series of excruciatingly bald product placement opportunities for those who’d provided the funding, e.g. Carlsberg.

As far as we can tell, the public were indifferent — we didn’t see any mention of it among our ‘not beer’ friends on Facebook, for example — and beer geeks, on the whole, found it rather reprehensible. Regulators weren’t keen, either, which seems to have been the final nail in its coffin.

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Illustration: moody London pub.

Doug & Dinsdale, Pub Preservationists

Some friends recently moved into a house near a Victorian pub on a London back street.

“Everyone thinks we’re lucky,” says our friend, “but I went once and wasn’t made welcome.”

The rumour is that someone wanted to turn it into a gastropub like all the others in the area, but the family of gangsters who own it said no — they like it how it is.

That is, frozen in time c.1975, with bars on its doors, faded paintwork, dusty carpets, and a mere handful of customers.

Has CAMRA explored mob ownership as a way of preserving traditional pub character?

Writing about beer and pubs since 2007