News, Nuggets & Longreads 30/05/2015

Funny how it always seems to be Saturday around this time of the week, innit? Here’s our regular round-up of recommended beer-related reading from the last week.

→ First, a public service announcement: Bristol’s Wiper & True have issued a product recall for their beer Mount Hood (Batch 01, bottled 27/03/2015–17/04/2015) because some bottles have shattered under excessive internal pressure.

Jeff Alworth’s piece on German wheat beer for All About Beer is a good read for those interested in recreating the style at home, as well as offering a nice portrait of the Schneider Brewery:

Schneider is known for its phenols… which Drexler describes as “spicy-tasting, like clove and nutmeg.”… That flavor doesn’t come accidentally—or easily. There are two steps, and the most important is what’s known as a “ferulic acid rest.”

→ A newswire story (Agence France-Presse) via the Guardian detailed the workings of a self-service pub in a village in  the Czech Republic:

All beer lovers need to do is grab a cup from the storage rack, insert a coin and run their ID through a scanner to prove they are over the drinking age of 18 to help themselves to a cool, crisp pint.

→ At his Inside Beer website Jeff Evans shared a piece by Mark Tranter of Burning Sky explaining how and why he came up with his flagship beer Saison à la Provision, with some interesting details:

Having new oak was something I chose, despite the fact that the beer may not have been exactly as I wanted from day one. The first couple of batches had a coconut-like flavour that you get from new oak, which also imparts a level of apparent sweetness (not particularly desirable in saisons).

→ For the Morning Advertiser, Pete Brown explained the appeal of craft beer to women and urged the wider industry to borrow its cunning tactic of — wait for it — ‘not insulting or alienating them’.

→ Manchester Brew Expo took place last weekend and inspired posts from Connor ‘Beer Battered’ Murphy (a kind of pre-event trailer); Tandleman (impressed by Cloudwater, became ‘relaxed’, stop taking notes); Mark ‘Beer Compurgation’ Johnson (a photo essay); and Phil Hardy who found it a heartening experience: ‘I felt that dark cloud lift for a while, thinning and rising ever higher, bright warming rays starting to peep through the gaps.’

→ And, finally, a sign of the times from Keith Flett:

Saisons Pt 7: More Lemon, More Sour

This week, as part of our ongoing project, we tasted three UK-brewed saisons with no real connection other than that they’re from breweries we don’t really know well at all.

  • Hop Kettle Ginlemlii Thai Saison (330ml, 5.8% ABV, sent to us by @landells)
  • By The Horns Vive La Brett Saison-Brett (330ml, 6.1%, £2.56 from Ales by Mail)
  • Celt Hallstatt Deity Farmhouse Fruit Saison (330ml, 6.6%, £1.98)

The Red Lion is a pub in Cricklade, Wiltshire, with a small brewery on site operating under the name Hop Kettle. It is a favourite of Mark Landells who sent us three bottles of their saison because he was eager to see it included in our taste-off. First impressions were very good: it wasn’t a weird colour, didn’t smell weird, and poured a perfectly clear gold. The carbonation was fairly low but we managed to coax a decent head from the bottle without disturbing any yeast.

Continue reading Saisons Pt 7: More Lemon, More Sour

How to Trace a UK Brewery’s History

As we’ve had two requests in the last fortnight, not to mention lots of little queries through Twitter for the last few years, we thought this qualified as a frequently asked question: ‘How can I find out more about [BREWERY X]?

CenturyPlusPlus21. In the first instance, take a look at the late Norman Barber’s marvellous Century of British Brewers. Published by the equally marvellous Brewery History Society it includes pocket biographies of hundreds of UK breweries in existence between 1890 and 2012, giving details of when and exactly where they operated. Crucially, it can also tell you what happened to them in the end which can provide vital clues as to the current whereabouts of archive materials. For example, they may eventually have ended up as part of…

Continue reading How to Trace a UK Brewery’s History

Pubs We Can’t Walk Past

We’re just back from a few days in London and, though we were mostly busy seeing family and friends, did find time for a couple of beers in pubs that we now realise we simply cannot resist.

First, passing through Angel, Islington, even though we didn’t especially want a lunchtime drink, we had to stop at the Craft Beer Co for a couple of halves. There’s something about this particular branch of the chain that we especially like. It’s partly the guaranteed availability of at least one or two interesting beers among the vast range, but perhaps more so the combination of daylight, darkness, and a general sense of tranquillity. (Perhaps the management would like it to be less tranquil?) The beer was expensive but nice glassware, friendly staff, tasters all round, proper beer mats, and other perks made it seem decent value. We confirmed that Magic Rock Salty Kiss (Gooseberry) is still a wonderful beer, and also that we still don’t quite get what others see in The Kernel, though a half of pale ale with Mosaic and Zeus was perfectly decent.

In Walthamstow the pub that pulled us in, even though we really ought to have been doing something else with that precious hour and a half, was the Nag’s Head. It’s not the best pub in London, and perhaps these days not even the best in E17, but it’s our old local, where we first drank Kriek and sank endless pints of mild and Timothy Taylor Landlord. Since the last time we visited, the range of beers on offer has improved again — fewer Caledonian seasonals, more from Essex — while the cats-and-kitsch décor has intensified in strangeness. We sat in our old corner and drank Mighty Oak Marmalade Skies, a Beatles-themed pale ale at 4.7% which somehow reminded us of Batham’s Bitter — sweet but not sugary, and balanced as in balanced, rather than as a synonym for bland.

We’ll no doubt drift into the Nags next time we’re in town, too because, let’s face it, we’re not under any pressure to be on top of the latest thing in London: there are plenty of others on that beat.

Are there pubs you can’t walk past? If so, what gives them that quality?

Main image taken at the Craft Beer Co, Islington, in June 2014.

News, Nuggets & Longreads 23/05/2015

We’re on our travels so this is a scheduled post. If a major British craft brewer got bought by a multi-national on Friday, apologies for the omission.

Detail from map of Norway showing distribution of grains typically used in brewing.

Lars Marius Garshol continues to mine the data he’s been collecting on farmhouse brewing in Norway, this time looking at which grains were typically used in which parts of the country in the 1950s.

→ Via @Ben_T_Johnson, who is quoted in the article, Jason Proctor considered everyone’s favourite faux craft beer Blue Moon and what the recent class action suit brought against MillerCoors means. This is the best bit:

“There is the question of ‘So what? They purchased the beer, they received the beer, they drank the beer. What’s the big deal?'” says Parent’s lawyer, James Treglio.

“The big deal is: ‘Yeah, but they charged more for it.'”

The lawsuit claims identifying Blue Moon as a craft beer allows MillerCoors to charge up to 50 per cent more for the beer than its other products.

Adapted from an image at Flowing Data.
Adapted from an image at Flowing Data.

→ Flowing Data (via @lisagrimm) has a script for generating beer recipe from US regional demographic data — a bit silly, but why not?

Bronx was lighter in color and really hoppy in an unbalanced sort of way, which translates to low income and high population density. An unbalanced beer.

→ There is a new edition of Des de Moor’s CAMRA guide to London pubs out now and he’s accompanied it with a lengthy post surveying the brewing scene as it was in the city in 1971 when CAMRA was founded.

→ Frequent blog commenter Gary Gillman has written a 1000-word essay recounting his career in beer drinking in Canada and elsewhere:

The draft beer in taverns was just “draft”, no one cared or asked about the type or source. Some men ordered bottled beer “tablette”, meaning not chilled, which I found odd but it wasn’t uncommon especially in the long winters there. Some added salt to the beer, which magically raised the head.

→ Alan McLeod highlighted the existence of a beer brewed using water harvested from fog — wonder if it’s cloudy?

→ And, finally, one of our own Tweets:

Pssst! Our short ebook Gambrinus Waltz — a true labour of love on our part — is on sale at both Amazon UK (99p) and Amazon US ($1.53) for the next few days. You don’t need a Kindle to read it — there are free apps for Android, iOS and PC. Get on it, and tell your pals!

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Over-thinking beer, pubs and the meaning of craft since 2007