Category Archives: Generalisations about beer culture

Over/Under Represented, Pt 2

On Friday, we asked people to tell us which breweries they think get more than their fair share of attention, and which are being overlooked.

The results were interesting, though perhaps not quite in the way we had hoped.

There are going on for c.1,300 breweries in Britain (the numbers are disputed) but there were hardly any names put forward for either list that were not familiar to us from blog posts or newspaper articles. That rather confirmed our view that, if no-one is raving about Bloggs’s Brew Co of Dufton, it’s probably because the beer it produces is, at best, unremarkable. Or, to put that another way, there are only a handful of breweries really worth writing home about.

Continue reading Over/Under Represented, Pt 2

100 Words: Not The Same Again

Mr Turner is right‘The biggest influence in whether someone has a second pint is the quality of their first.’ 

Sometimes, you mean to have one beer and end up having four because you don’t know when you’ll next taste something so perfect.

More often, though, you have one and, though there’s nothing wrong with it, not that you could complain about, not that you can put your finger on, that awkward first date is as far as it ever goes.

Not ordering a second pint is just about the most passive protest a customer can make.

Session #96: Festivals — what are they for?

Our host for the 96th session is Joan Villar-i-Martí at the Catalonian beer blog Birraire who asks, quite simple, ‘Festivals: Geek Gathering or Beer Dissemination?

Beer festivals, as we know them today, were pretty much invented by the Campaign for Real Ale in the 1970s, when they were a brilliant hybrid of political protest and beer geek fan service.

When choice in pubs was even more severely limited than it is today, and beers from one region of the UK were rarely seen in the next, festivals were highly appealing, and people were willing to put up with draughty old halls and basic facilities for the chance to try something as exotic as a best bitter from two counties over, while surrounded by other members of their tribe.

So, they were about a 50/50 split, to use Sr. Villar-i-Martí’s terms, between ‘geek gathering’ and ‘beer dissemination’.

These days, however, the latter function is somewhat diminished. There is more variety on offer in pubs, bars, supermarkets and shops than even reasonably dedicated beer geeks can hope to process, so what’s on offer at festivals is generally either (a) stuff we’ve already had, probably in better condition; or (b) gimmicky one-off weirdness that we don’t have the time or energy to be bothered with.

For tickers, on their brave quest to taste every beer in existence, festivals remain obligatory — it’s the only place that five litre batch of Mango-Coconut Weizen-Stout is being served!

For others, though, their value is increasingly tipped towards the social, especially for those who belong to communities, cliques or sub-cults whose presence is otherwise entirely online.

Main image adapted from ‘Great British Beer Festival’ by Katie Hunt, from Flickr, under Creative Commons.

Ten Beers to Try Before You Die!

The one you drink straight from the bottle, straight from the fridge, after work on a hot day.

The one a relative or friend buys you as a token of repressed but deeply-felt affection.

The one you have with breakfast at a grotty railway station or airport bar before embarking on an adventure.

The one that you don’t really want at the end of a night but drink anyway because you’re having too much fun to leave.

The one you drink on Sunday afternoon in front of the fire with a gale blowing outside, during a power cut.

The one you order to annoy a snooty waiter in a restaurant where they really think you ought to be drinking wine.

The one you have at lunchtime on a week day, while reading the paper, on a day off.

The one that tastes especially good about 72 hours after a terrible hangover.

The one you finally manage to open with your front door key after 15 minutes, having forgotten to bring a bottle opener.

The one you’re right in the middle of enjoying when you die.

We wrote this on our Facebook page back in 2013 but wanted to give it a more permanent home here on the blog.

Do We Want Beer Architects?

Last week’s article in the Wall Street Journal about conflict between traditional brewers and ‘beer architects’ in Belgium appalled someone we follow on Twitter:

Now, we’re not sure if the world needs beer architects, or if the term is one we’d like to see stick, but it’s an interesting way of framing the discussion.

Until fairly recently, there were no architects — only builders, and, later, master builders. Then came people like Christopher Wren — intelligent to the point of genius, and bred to practice good taste at a pitch most humans can’t detect — who made a living conceiving of buildings or estates; sketching them; modelling them… and then contracting someone else to get their hands dirty in the construction.

Continue reading Do We Want Beer Architects?