News, Nuggets & Longreads 10 September 2016: Keith’s, Kwak and Kveik

Chairs, carpet and pool table in a run-down old pub.

Here’s the best of the beer- and pub-related writing that’s caught our attention in the last week, from Canadian IPA to sour celebrity-endorsed Guinness.

Illustration: Biere de Garde text on weathered wood.

Joe Tindall at The Fatal Glass of Beer has been considering the relatively unfashionable Biére de garde style and especially British-brewed takes on it:

Biéres de garde are often grouped with saisons under the banner of ‘farmhouse ales’… [but] whilst the saison booms, its French cousin generates far less interest. This is understandable, in a way — if the dry, peppery quality of a saison in the Dupont vein invites dry hopping, mixed fermentation and other ‘crafty’ goings on, the soft, sweet, malty character of many biéres de garde hardly screams experimentation.


Yeast samples in jars.

Lars Marius Garshol summarises highly technical lab analysis of the various Kveik yeast strains he has collected around Scandinavia and the Baltic region:

[These] yeasts are extremely diverse, and that the yeasts don’t cluster by what region they came from. A Finnish yeast sits in between the Lithuanian ones, and some Lithuanian ones are closer to some Norwegian ones than to the others. Even within Norway the geographical relationships don’t hold. Stranda, furthest north, is the most similar to a yeast from Voss, furthest south.


Bottles of Alexander Keith's 'Fundy'.

Londoner Rebecca Pate of Brewing East has made a trip back to her native Canada which she finds herself viewing through a beery prism:

When I was a student at the University of King’s College in Halifax, we happily cradled sloshing pitchers of Alexander Keith’s IPA without a thought of hop characteristics in our heads… In Halifax, you can’t go far without having a Keith’s thrust upon you- it’s the province’s favourite sup and was heavily marketed under the slogan ‘those who like it, like it a lot’ throughout the summit of its popularity in the 90s.


Martin Taylor has chosen his life: he lives and will die by the will of the Good Beer Guide. He usually writes about the many, many pubs he visits but, this week, took a rare excursion into opinion:

There’s often a negative view of the GBG expressed by bloggers, ‘Why would you rely on that, we don’t?’  Bluntly, it’s the best Guide we’ve got to beer quality, and it gets it right most of the time.  I suspect the folk who open these micropubs do care more about beer quality (if not pub quality) than the average PubCo tenant.


For The Spectator Geoffrey Wheatcroft reflects on the campaign to save a pub in the North Somerset village of South Stoke:

There is an amusing or ironical side to this story. If the villagers were ploughmen and shepherds and the other yokels lovingly portrayed in the kind of nostalgic reminiscences of country life which infest the bookshops, they might not have known how to go about saving the pub. Because South Stoke is a modern village, our little platoon included a barrister, who knew friendly accountants, and others who were ready to help with advice at ‘mate’s rates’.


It’s tangential — that is, not at all about beer — but tech writer Kieren McCarthy’s post for The Register about attempting to access the latest Apple product launch is worth reading because it shines a light on journalists and the hoops they jump through for continued ‘access’. We know of at least one beer writer who swears they have been unofficially black-balled in certain circles because they failed to be suitably positive and deferential. (Via @LiamapBarnes.)


Brewery takeover news: AB-InBev has acquired Belgian family firm Bosteels which produces famous brands such as Kwak and Tripel Karmeliet. As usual, opinion varies from ‘Good for them’ to ‘Oh, woe, woe!’ via ‘Who cares?’ and, frankly, we’ve read it all before, but industry-insider Jacob McKean’s fiery take on why these takeovers are generally a bad thing is an entertaining read.


And, finally, through the Trojan horse harmlessness of celebrity endorsement Guinness has ended up deliberately brewing a worryingly avant-garde-sounding sour beer. Strange times.

One thought on “News, Nuggets & Longreads 10 September 2016: Keith’s, Kwak and Kveik”

  1. Excellent stuff from Halifax. I got two of my degrees there from 1981 to 1991, the first from Kings College – which is also tied to preRevolutionary NCY brewing by the way. Heading to a 25th law school reunion in a few weeks so this is good reconnaissance. On being blackballed, the best defence is being known to have a heavy boot where required. Acquiescence is a big part of the problem.

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