Rants and eulogies

Pete Brown has written a superb rant about the many headed beer industry. Read it here.

And then, for something completely different, a nice pair of posts on Pencil and Spoon, one where Mark writes about his long suffering missus, and then the right of reply from the long suffering missus herself.  Other long-suffering beer widows have commented.

This could run and run.

Why landlords go for the usual suspects

With people like Jeff (aka Stonch) of the Gunmakers Arms and Dave from the Woolpack blogging, we’re getting some great insights into the life of the pub landlord.

Jeff’s recent post about the benefits to the landlord of sticking to the usual suspects made us feel chastened, as it’s something we’ve moaned about in the past. In short, he points out (whilst gallantly naming no names) that some of the smaller breweries don’t deliver good quality product.

We’ve seen that in bottles, too, so it doesn’t surprise us. Given that we all root for these small businesses, should we be helping them out by letting them know when we’ve had a dodgy bottle, or would that just wind them up?

The Good Bierkeller Guide

biergartenbook

There are quite a few guides in German aimed at people who like beer gardens, but we think we’ve found the best.

Frankens Schoenste Bierkeller and Biergarten by Markus Raupach and Bastian Böttner is a weighty but handily sized guide to the most attractive gardens and pubs in Franconia. Even though our German is rudimentary, we found it easy to follow. For each city, town and village in Franconia, it suggests between two and twenty decent places to drink. It lists the beers on offer; gives details of how to to get to each boozer on public transport; and offers special tips for each one (Excellent asparagus menu in season! Particularly nice dunkel! Wonderful panoramic views from the terrace! And so on).

If you’re a regular visitor to Franconia, we’d say it’s a must, and a bargain at €16.95.

And its endless photos of green, sunlit beer gardens aren’t a bad way to cheer yourself up after a journey home from work in the rain, either.

How we research pubs

We like to get out and about looking for new pubs (although the evil of work has prevented this a bit recently).

Sometimes, we just chance our luck and hope that we’ll stumble on somewhere good. We’ve got quite good at peering through pub windows to see what’s on offer and have become pretty adept at turning on our heels and walking out of pubs that turn out to be rotten once we”re inside.

More often, though, we do a bit of research beforehand, using various resources.

We do have a copy of the Good Beer Guide (2007 edition) which we refer to, but as we’ve mentioned before, its focus on consistently good cask ale, rather than on interesting beers across the board, sometimes leaves us uninspired.  Also, it could be better at clearly flagging pubs in a given area which stock locally brewed beers.

We like Beer in the Evening, but a number of our regular haunts don’t  score above average (usually because a few Internet trolls have dragged the rating down).  But the comments often give us a good idea of whether we’d enjoy the pub or not, regardless of overall rating.

These days, though, we’re most likely to survey our favourite blogs before visiting a new area.  If several bloggers like the same pub, it’s probably worth a look. Over time, we’ve also developed a sense of which bloggers like the same kinds of pubs we do, so we rate their opinions more highly. It’s the next best thing to a personal recommendation.

Pub in a shed

If you’re in the UK and into beer, have a look at this on the BBC I-player; fellow beer blogger John and his shed are featured.

This is no ordinary shed – Darlington-based John and his friends have all converted their sheds into mini-pubs serving homebrew.  BBC’s regional programme “Inside out” picked it up.

You could learn more about beer watching this than the whole series of James & Oz, and it makes home-brewing look seriously cool.

The bit you want is about 20 minutes into the show.