Going Long in August 2014

Reading in the pub (illustration)

We’re writing something longer than usual (1500+ words) for Saturday 30 August 2014. Join us!

Our last attempt to nudge the Blogoshire into providing us with meatier reading material was on 1 March, following on from similar exercises in November and September last year.

This time, to give people time to recuperate and work on their masterpieces, we thought we’d set a longer deadline, hence 30 August.

Here’s the deal if you want to join in:

  • Write something longer than usual. (Our standard posts are 300-700 words long, so we aim for at least 1500 before we consider it a ‘long read’.)
  • You could just stretch a normal post out by adding lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of unnecessary words, phrases, sentences, and indeed paragraphs. But that’s quite the point. Instead, choose a subject which requires more words.
  • We’re not in charge and there are no ‘rules’; you can write what you like, post when you like; and you don’t have to mention us or link to this blog in your post. (Though of course it would be nice.)
  • If you want us to include your contribution in our round-up, let us know. The simplest way is by Tweeting a link with the hashtag #beerylongreads.
  • TIP: think of something you want to read but that doesn’t seem to exist — an interview with a particular brewer, the history of beer in a specific town, the story of a famous pub — and then write it.
  • Drop us a line if you want advice or just to run your idea past someone.

Last time we did this, we had a flurry of messages from people saying: ‘I didn’t know this was happening!’ We’ll issue a few reminders at tactical intervals but, in the meantime, put it in your diaries!

We haven’t decided what we’re going to write about yet. If you have any suggestions (our Newquay Steam Beer post was prompted by an email from a reader) let us know in the comments below.

News, Nuggets and Longreads 12/04/2014

Bloke drinking beer.

Before we head off to conduct earnest research into Cornish beer for our now annual ‘best beers‘ blog post, some bits and pieces of interest.

→ If you don’t follow us on Twitter or Facebook, you might have missed that, yesterday, instead of a blog post, we added a new page: “So you’re thinking about getting seriously into beer?

→ News just in: the esteemed judges of the World Beer Cup (PDF link) agree with us about Magic Rock Salty Kiss. (Albeit in the weirdly specific category of fruit wheat beers.)

→ Here’s Phil Mellows on Marston’s programme of pub building. (In Somerset last weekend, we saw that they built a brand new plastick Olde Worlde country inn two doors down from an actually old country inn. Hmmmm.)

→ This from Adnams is a great example of how to respond to frequently asked questions from customers: what exactly is the difference between cask and bottled Broadside?

→ Saved to Pocket this week:

→ And, finally, we agree with Richard:

GALLERY: British Lager

Lager has been part of British beer culture since the 1880s but took a long time to really take off.

Haves and Have-nots

This morning, Huddersfield’s Magic Rock made Un-Human Cannonball, their 12% 11% ‘Triple IPA’, available for purchase. It sold out online within 20 minutes.

The last week has seen a constant buzz from beer geeks, trigger fingers twitching over mouse buttons, desperate to get their hands on this limited edition, once-a-year speciality. Though we’ve generally been very impressed by Magic Rock’s beer, we refused to play.

Beer, we’re beginning to think, ought to be a repeatable experience. That’s one reason we prefer St Bernardus Abt 12 to Westvleteren 12, and probably why our ‘cellar’ is full of ‘special’ beers we never seem to get round to drinking.

And, anyway, how good can this particular beer actually be?

For all our aloofness, though, when the starter’s gun sounded, we did, for a brief moment, feel the urge to join the race — to avoid being ‘left behind’ and place ourselves among the raptured:

The fact is, this kind of marketing event just works. If we ran a brewery, we’d be doing exactly the same.

If you’re in Manchester or London and want another shot at getting your hands on UHC, there are launch events taking place this evening at the Port Street Beer House and Craft Beer Company (Islington) respectively. Good luck!

Stuffed Full of Goldings

Hops

Traditional hop varieties such as Goldings and Fuggles are seen by many UK beer enthusiasts and brewers as a key signifier of ‘the bad old days’.

Self-consciously ‘craft’ brewers tend not to use them, or at least not to advertise their use, just as they tend not to brew mild, bitter or best bitter.

But talking to people like Sean Franklin and Brendan Dobbin, both of whom helped to kick off the widespread use of pungent ‘new world’ hop varieties such as Cascade in the UK, we began to wonder if the baby hadn’t been thrown out with the bathwater. Neither man subscribes to a simplistic ‘foreign hops good, British hops bad’ point of view, and both described memories of great, flavoursome, highly aromatic beers made with Goldings.

Then, last week, we saw this from Ron Pattinson:

I’m really happy that the 1839 Reid IPA has been brewed. Even happier when I taste it. There’s that magical effect of a shitload of Goldings. It’s a flavour I’m learning to love. When will a professional brewer pick that up? OK, Dann has done in the past with the 1832 XXXX Ale. But where is a regularly brewed beer stuffed full of Goldings?

That helped to crystallise our thinking. The problem isn’t Goldings, or traditional hop varieties in general, but their absence: because they are associated with ‘balanced’, ‘classical’ brewing, when they are used, it is often not in sufficient abundance to really make an impact on the palate of the modern beer geek.

We’re sure there are exceptions. For example, Meantime’s India Pale Ale (link to annoying age protected website) has US-style ‘oomph’ and a huge, juicy aroma, achieved, as we understand it, entirely using Kent hops. We’re going to track down a bottle as soon as possible and get reacquainted.

We have also been asked to suggest a recipe specification to Kirkstall Brewery in Leeds, whose beer we don’t know at all, so that they can brew a beer to coincide with our appearance at North Bar in May. After racking our brains, we’ve asked for something with lots of Goldings designed to evoke the Young’s Ordinary and Boddington’s Bitter in their supposed 1970s prime. Let’s see how that goes.

A revival of British hops and British styles among British brewers who have, for the last decade, been looking to the US and Europe for inspiration… well, that would be ‘post craft‘, wouldn’t it?

Writing about beer and pubs since 2007