Here’s everything that’s grabbed our attention in the last week, from overlooked breweries to book reviews.
‘Why is it always the same old breweries that always get written about?’ goes the grumble. Well, this week, Phil from Oh Good Ale has answered the call with a piece considering TicketyBrew of Stalybridge, Greater Manchester:
So: if the beer’s that good, what’s standing between Ticketybrew and the big time? Why aren’t we hearing their name bandied about alongside Blackjack and RedWillow, or Cloudwater at a pinch? Why, not to put too fine a point on it, aren’t they hip? There are three reasons, I think.
(And let’s not pussyfoot about here: what’s stopping you profiling or interviewing one of those breweries that gets ignored?)
For Total Ales (Matt Curtis’s website) Claire M. Bullen attempts to summarise the history of pumpkin beers and of the controversy that surrounds them:
What do pumpkin products signal? For many, they demonstrate unsophisticated taste, girlishness, the opposite of connoisseurship. And, as with white wine, fruity cocktails, and other drinks that are still classed as ‘girly drinks,’ they’re profoundly uncool for men to consume (this notably doesn’t work in reverse; women are often lauded for consuming historically male-gendered products, like whisky and hoppy beers).
Alan McLeod at A Good Beer Blog has reviewed Stan Hieronymus’s interesting sounding new book Brewing Local: American-grown beer, which is definitely on our wish list:
Starting with the second half of the book, we see it contains discussions on foraging, a directory of ingredients one might consider adding to a beer to capture locality in the glass and, then, a collection of brewing recipes – including one for an 1835 Albany Ale… Much to his credit, Stan goes even further back and documents one beverage of one of the peoples who were here before European colonization: corn-based tiswin of the Apache. He also ties late 1800s Oklahoma choc with the Choktaw people who were relocated in the genocidal trail of tears two generations before.
(A similar book covering Europe would be very welcome — we assume Stan is on the case.)
This is a lovely nugget from Ed: evidence of people brewing with green hops in the 16th Century, ‘supposing that in drying, the vertue and state of the Hopped decayeth and fadeth awaye’.
Leanna Garfield at Business Insider has the story of a new beer from Patagonia made with a type of wheat called Kernza:
Kernza is still relatively new — researchers at The Land Institute began breeding it from a species of perennial wheat grass in 2003. Farmers are still experimenting with it, but have thus far found that Kernza crops require only half as much water as wheat due to their long roots. The plant also thrives without tilling, which helps prevent soil erosion (the wearing away of topsoil by wind and water after farming). And since Kernza crops don’t die after harvest, they can grow — and capture carbon — year-round, eliminating the need to start over every season.
(Wonder if they’ve considered using that Patagonian ur-lager yeast to ferment it?)
Alec Latham of Mostly About Beer volunteered at a beer festival and now thinks we need a public holiday to honour the skill and hard work of bar staff:
Whilst in constant motion they need to clock every new face at the bar, the place it gets in serving order and the fact that it might pop up somewhere else than where they first marked it… As they do that, they need to be able to add up prices in multiples, get asked to change some of that order half way through and even have several punters in the same group trying to pay at once and want the change to be split three ways… Whilst these calculations are going on in their brains, they need to develop a sense of psychokinesis with their co-workers behind the bar and always sense where they are so their bodies arch around each other – the art of contortion is essential.
For Draft Joe Stange offers some insight into how the Belgian beer market is really reacting to the current heightened interest in hops and quirkiness:
But these hoppier Belgian ales have not taken over the local cafes, although they are easier to find than before. And with a few exceptions they are not cynical imitations of foreign craft beer. Instead, they adopt ideas about bolder hopping and fold it into the Belgian scheme: intricate mash regimes, high attenuation, relatively expressive yeast, and refermentation in the bottle.
(We’re stealing ‘expressive yeast’.)
And, finally, this seems reasonable to us:
My biggest takeaway from beering around America: every pub that takes its beer offer seriously should have a daily printed beer list.
— The Beer Nut (@thebeernut) October 6, 2016