News, Nuggets & Longreads 12 March 2016

Koelsch glasses on a table in Cologne.

Here’s the most noteworthy beer- and pub-writing of the last week, from home-brewing to the March blues for brewers.

→ For Vice‘s ‘Munchies’ section Chloe Scott-Moncrieff reports on ‘London’s Secret Homebrewing Club’:

Around the long table, I meet Tom Burrows, a 28-year-old physicist… “I think you can find lots of scientists in homebrewing,” he admits. “Although I know an accountant who doesn’t stick to recipes and while he has some misses, he’s created some brilliant beers.” He sounds slightly envious.

(Via @totalcurtis.)

→ Frank Curtis works with the malting industry in the US and has written an insider’s-view guest post for the London-based blog run by his son, Matt. The bit that really caught our attention was the idea of ‘craft’ malt:

Troubadour Malt, is located in Fort Collins, Colorado and I’ve followed their development with interest from the very first ideas to the consistent delivery of product – all produced from locally grown barley. Troubadour Malt is owned by Steve Clark (the engineer and scientist who designed the plant) and Chris Schooley (the artist and craftsman who kilns and roasts the malt to a wide set of specifications).

→ Dave Bailey at Hardknott provides a customarily frank account of the struggles of running a brewery in the post-Christmas doldrums:

It is my feeling that this year the post Christmas beer sales slump have been worse than ever. Dry-January seems to be getting ever more popular. Yes, I’m sure you, the reader, has decided for whatever reason that you are right to take part. You help us out every other month of the year shouldn’t feel any guilt. Perhaps you are right, but it still puts a great big hole in our cash-flow and our yeast maintenance alike. Not to mention the problem of managing stock.

(If we were managing his PR we would advise him against posting this kind of thing; as nosy bastards keen to know what’s going on behind the scenes, we’re very glad he does.)

→ Blogger Glenn Johnson keeps a close eye on the Micropub movement (we quoted him as an authority in our big state-of-the-nation piece last summer) and this week provided an update on two new entrants to the club in the Midlands.

The Tremenheere, the Wetherspoons in Penzance.

Wetherspoon’s watch: the pub chain’s headline-grabbing abandonment of Sunday roasts, the raising of prices, and the handing-off of several London pubs last year have raised questions about whether JDW might be struggling; but with their latest profit report they insist it’s all fine. (All links to The Morning Advertiser.) J.D. Wetherspoon also makes a cameo appearance in obituaries for Bristol reggae DJ Derek Serpell-Morris: he visited all of their pubs and collected receipts to prove it. (Via @fly_redwing.)

→ BrewDog watch: the Scottish brewery featured in an episode of the BBC’s Who’s the Boss (iPlayer) which no doubt raised awareness of BrewDog without necessarily improving its reputation. Mitch Adams sticks up for James Watt here; and there’s some (thin) commentary and a round-up of Twitter reactions from The Drum here. Meanwhile, the brewery’s Islington hot-dogs-and-beer bar has closed but Keith Flett doesn’t think there’s any cause for concern.

→ Andreas Krenmair has been home-brewing Berliner Weisse to historic spec, without a boil.

→ And, finally, a vital question has been answered: yes, you can use apps to swap faces with beer packaging.

3 thoughts on “News, Nuggets & Longreads 12 March 2016”

  1. Craft malt is an idea that’s way overdue in my opinion. Tasting farmhouse ales made with home-made malts opened my eyes to the enormous spectrum of flavours that’s possible to achieve if you make your own malts. The possibilities in this area are so enormous I don’t think anyone’s really woken up to it yet.

  2. As of March 2016, the [North American] Craft Maltsters Guild has 27 members: one in Canada, the remainder in the U.S. According to the [U.S.] Brewers Association, however, there are currently thirty-six small-scale ‘craft’ malting companies in the U.S., compared to fewer than five in 2010, and with about 50 more currently planned or under construction.
    http://on.fb.me/1UnNW8l

  3. I advised myself not to post, and for sure the negativity might well be counter productive. There are wider issues though. Can the number of brewers continue to increase when the number of outlets continue to fall? I would say a resounding “NO!”

    On a personal note, it is difficult to be motivated with positivity when there is so little money in the job at our scale. I don’t want to earn a fortune, but an OK living would be a reasonable thing to ask. We need to grow or die, it’s simple. Hopefully the therapy of writing the piece, and some support I’ve seen, will ensure a resumption of normal service before long.

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