More pink beer for the ladies?

Kasteel Cru beer in its little pretend champagne bottle
Kasteel Cru beer in its little pretend champagne bottle

Marketing magazine brings news this week of a new pink version of Kasteel Cru, aimed at women. They’re calling it a ‘rose’. Where does the idea that women will only drink pink beer come from…? Gulpener seem to have the same idea, too.

Kasteel Cru is a quite pleasant if unexciting lager made with champagne yeast, so already aimed squarely at people who don’t like big pints of ale.

Still, better than putting brown food colouring in wine to make blokes drink it, eh?

Beer Exposed – what's that all about?

Anchor Porter
Anchor Porter

We’ve been invited to this Beer Exposed event in London at the end of September. I can’t quite work out what to make of it.

The good side – lots of brewers from around the world will be there. That said, the choice is a little weird — as well as excellent breweries from Britain (Fullers, Exmoor, Harvieston), Belgium (Liefmans, Westmalle*) and America (Great Divide, Goose Island, Anchor etc), there’s also a lot of dull “world lager” — eg Tsingtao, Quilmes, Cristal from Cuba and no less than four bland Polish breweries. Although, if Zywiec bring along some Porter, I’ll be first in the queue.

The mission of the event is to “explore, educate, enlighten”, and to this end there are various talks and walks run by various beer celebs. Star turn for beer geeks must be Garrett Oliver, doing various sessions on beer with food, including beer & cheese and beer & chocolate pairings. Many members of the British beer-writing gliterati are also there, and some of the sessions look very interesting indeed.

But… the whole thing smacks a bit of “beer is the new wine” to me. There’s quite a hefty entrance fee — £14 in advance, £17 on the door, which doesn’t include any of the beer walks or talks. Lots of the talks are focused on beer and food. There’s no-one over the age of 30 on the promotional material. There’s even a bloody dress code. Although if this is mostly to stop the sexist t-shirts, I don’t mind so much…

There’s also no mention of real ale, which is perhaps why I’ve not seen much mention of this in official CAMRA press or on their website. They do have a stand there, though, so hopefully real ale is not going to be entirely neglected in this sensory exploration. While I firmly believe that there are some great non-real beers in the world, real ale is an important and uniquely British part of the beer story.

So — an interesting radical approach to extending the appeal of beer, or a pretentious marketing exercise? Are tutored tastings and food pairings the way to enlightenment? If this kind of exercise helps people learn about wine, why not apply it to beer?

We’ll go along with an open mind and report back…


*are they bringing monks??

Beer Exposed is on at the Business Design Centre in Islington from 25th-27th September. You have to pick a four hour slot to attend. You can find a full schedule of events, plus details about the speakers, sessions and who’s exhibiting on the Beer Exposed website.

Chaos on tube as drinking ban hits London public transport

As you may have picked up from other blogs (including Impy Malting and Knut Albert), there was a party last night to mark the drinking ban on London transport.

It appears to have turned into a bit of a riot, as can (sadly) be expected when large groups of boozy Brits get together. I didn’t go, as I thought it would get nasty. The BBC has the story.

While not wanting to make light of the fact that people got assaulted, trains got damaged etc, I can’t help a little giggle over the fact that new Mayor Boris Johnson’s politicking has already backfired on him. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t really care about being able to drink or not on the Tube — I’m not an alcoholic. But I don’t think many Londoners would say that people drinking on public transport was one of London’s big issues, and we’ve already got laws and regulations to cover the potential nasty side effects like assault, abuse etc. The whole, unenforceable gesture was to make Boris look tough on law and order, and it’s managed to cause a major law and order incident. Nice one.

Incidentally, drinking is still allowed on national rail services (where they sell it to you), which is where I’ve experienced the worst anti-social behaviour. Worse because people are on it for longer and thus drink more, and because you can’t get off and wait for the next train if it gets bad.


Damm launch posh new beer

The Damm brewery in Spain have just launched a posh new beer, Inèdit, which I believe means something like “new” or unknown (pardon my Catalan if not, I’m sure someone will correct!)

It is designed specifically to go with food, “to be an alternative to wine in the best restaurants”. It’s been designed with the help of Ferran Adria and sommeliers from El Bulli, which is supposed to be the best restaurant in the world.

It’s not clear from the Damm press release whether the beer will actually be served at El Bulli — it would look a bit weird on the 150 page wine list. They make a big deal about how this is supposed to be a high end product. That said, the recommended price is starts at 8 Euros for a 75cl bottle — a bargain compared to what Meantime bottles for in London restaurants! The beer itself is bottle-conditioned, containing a mixture of wheat and barley malts, with coriander, orange peel and liquorice flavours.

It certainly sounds interesting. In our humble opinion, Damm already make the best mass-produced beer in Spain, and their Voll-damm (pictured) is an excellent strong amber / maerzen by anyone’s standards. I’m looking forward to reading the first tasting notes…

Story via Culturilla Cervecera – thanks Andres!


How much is too much?

The Department of Health today launched a £6m “know your limits” campaign, the point of which is to make people aware of how much they’re actually consuming. Interestingly, the scenarios it highlights are very “middle-class”, i.e it’s aimed at the middle-aged couple sharing a bottle of wine at home, rather than binge-drinking teenagers.

As the press-release points out, most people are unaware of how many units of alcohol are in their usual tipple. And so here’s a handy units calculator from the NHS, which incorporates strength and portion size.

There are two problems with this campaign. Firstly, it features one of the most seductive pints of lager I’ve ever seen in my life and had me craving lager at 7am when I saw it on breakfast telly. (Time to wonder about being an alcoholic again?)

The second, more serious problem, is that many British people’s reaction to being told what their limits are is to question the science. Perhaps correctly, because as Zythophile pointed out a while ago, the evidence supporting the current limits (2-3 per day for women, 3-4 per day for men) is not exactly conclusive. And certainly compared to what the average Brit actually drinks on a Friday night, it seems extremely low.

Then again, when I come back from the continent, these “limits” seem perfectly sensible, and I become convinced that we Brits drink too much.

I wouldn’t want to get accused of neo-Prohibitionism, and we’ve expressed on many occasions our view that “binge-drinking” is nothing new in our culture. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for some sensible reflection and education about exactly what we’re consuming.

Boak (up to four units already tonight…oops!)