Grain Brewery — good beer, great branding

lrg_logo.gifGrain Brewery are riding the zeitgeist with their packaging — they’ve come up with a label design which makes their delicious porter look like some kind of health food.

They’ve cleverly chosen to remind people of what’s actually in the beer. If you’ve brewed yourself, you’ll know how nice the grain smells when it goes into the tun. That’s what this branding makes me think of.

That’s presumably why our local free-range, organic, fair-trade deli is stocking a good chunk of their range.

So far, we’ve only tried the porter. It smells like espresso and tastes sour and fruity. The head lasted all the way to bottom of the glass. It’s fortified with port and bottle-conditioned, so was anything but dull. These are qualities we like in a beer.

We’ll be trying the others soon!


Top of the Pops

jamesclay.jpgBeer enthusiasts in the UK owe James Clay and Sons a debt of thanks.

They’re the canny importers who have made it possible for us to get our hands on Brooklyn Lager, Goose Island IPA, and other exciting beers we’ve banged on about in the past.

On their website, they list their top ten sellers. As of Monday 24 March, this is how the chart looked:

    2.Erdinger Weiss
    3.Lindemans Kriek
    4.Lindemans Framboise
    5.Chimay Red Cap
    6.Schneider Weisse
    8.Brooklyn Lager
    9.Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
    10.Karmeliet Triple

Ring any bells? It’s what’s in the fridges in almost every even vaguely aspirational bar or pub in Britain.

Sure, it gets a bit boring seeing those same beers all the time, and, yes, Vedett is shite, but I’d be very glad if my local swapped its fridge full of Stella, Becks, Holsten and WKD Blue for just a few of those.

Pimp my stout

orange.jpgOur latest homebrew is nearing the end of primary fermentation. We’re aiming for a “chocolate orange stout” – not so much Terry’s chocolate orange, but more something bitter and rich with a hint of citrus. A bit like our impressions of Yeti Imperial Stout, which in turn reminded me of an 85%-cocoa-solids hot chocolate I had in Spain once. That’s what we’re going for. We’re not ambitious or anything.

Anyway, we’ve had a sneaky sample, and it’s already showing a lot of promise. We’re going to bottle some just as it is, but we’ve got some smaller carboys, so we could do a range of experiments with secondary fermentation. So if you’ve got any ideas for what to do next, whether based on experience or pure fantasy, let us know after the “jump”, where you’ll find the full recipe so far.

Continue reading “Pimp my stout”

Don't let the bastards grind you down

saturday-night-sunday-morning.jpgThe more I think about so-called binge drinking, the more I think it is a result of the Northern European attitude to work — the weekend feels like the only time people can really relax, after slogging through five or six days of boredom, stress and aggravation, and they want it to be something special, memorable and overwhelming.

It’s not a new thing. In the 1958 social realist novel Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, Alan Sillitoe described a Saturday night in Britain like this:

For it was Saturday night, the best and bingiest glad-time of the week, one of the fifty-two holidays in the slow-turning Big Wheel of the year, a violent preamble to a prostrate Sabbath. Piled up passions were exploded on Saturday night, and the effect of a week’s monotonous graft in the factory was swilled out of your system in a burst of goodwill. You followed the motto of ‘be drunk and be happy’, kept your crafty arms around female waists, and felt the beer going beneficially down into the elastic capacity of your guts.

People always talk about the sensible Spanish and French attitude to drinking, but could it have anything to do with the traditional long lunch breaks and 35 hour working weeks in those countries?

Binge drinking is not the problem — it’s a symptom.