News, Nuggets & Longreads 14/06/2014

Welcome to the Inn, 1952.

That question has reared it’s head again: “Is beer blogging dead?” Here’s our response in the form of a special all Blogoshire version of our Saturday morning round-up.

→ Jeff at Beervana has been pondering (not for the first time) the meaning of ‘beer styles’: I drank a bottle of Crux’s Better Off Red, a “barrel-aged Flanders-style red ale.”  What exactly was Larry Sidor thinking when he used those terms?  What should I be thinking when I read them?”

→ Adrian Tierney-Jones isn’t a blogger, but he does write a blog, and he’s been expansive and feisty of late. His piece on how fed up he is of ‘beervangelism’ and the ‘sacred duty’ of the beer writer is a great read.

→ Lars Marius Garshol has a profile of an accountant who became a brewer after a stroke left him out of work and depressed: He travelled around the US for a while, fairly aimlessly by the sound of it, until he hit upon an abandoned brewery in Montana. This, he decided, was what he was going to do.”

→ It’s not something we’d be comfortable doing, but Tandleman recently took a thermometer to some London pubs and came up with numbers to support his feeling that cask ale in the capital is generally too warm: one pint came in at 17.2°c!

→ Connor Murphy’s survey of UK supermarket beer continued with a trip to ASDA, where he managed to find decent beers across a range of styles for a tenner.

→ Paul Bailey (no relation) has been posting a series of longish pieces on the family breweries of Britain, based largely on his personal experience as a drinker from the 1970s to the present. This one on Ruddles is a good place to start.

Beers Manchester has been undertaking a survey of the city’s historic pubs. Part one appeared some time ago, but parts two and three are new.

Some final thoughts: there are more blogs than ever and we think the standard of writing and research has improved across the board since we started in 2007.

As with breweries, though, the more there are, the harder it is to make an impression, and thus harder to get a conversation going.

Let’s put it bluntly: there is no demand for another blog reviewing readily available beers!

That’s not to say you shouldn’t do it if you enjoy it, but don’t expect anyone else to whoop with excitement.

If we were starting a new blog tomorrow, we would want to make sure it either (a) had a distinct and dazzling prose style or (b) covered something no-one was writing about. Preferably both.

News, Nuggets & Longreads 07/06/2014

Detail from Watney's Brown Ale advertisement c.1960.

Hold your breath, make a wish, count to three. Come with us and you’ll be… in a world of beery information!

The Queen’s speech on Wednesday included the announcement of Government plans for a new statutory code and independent adjudicator for pubs, with the primary intention of improving the fortunes of hard-pressed pub company tenants. CAMRA is jubilant; publican campaigners feel its a half-hearted compromise; opponents of state interference in business think it’s  step too far; and we’re holding our breath to see what the impact of even these timid steps might be, with the Beer Orders in mind.

Keen BrewDog watchers have been predicting a rebrand for some time and it seems it’s finally arrived. Is it just superficial, or does this also signal a cultural reboot for a company which has too often seemed downright brattish?

→ Saved to Pocket this week: Martyn Cornell’s lengthy examination of how the RAF supplied troops in Europe with beer during World War II. (We’ve seen that picture of the Spitfire with the beer barrels under its wings a millions times, but this goes into a lot more detail.)

→ After our post about Mackeson, The Beer Nut shared reviews of the same beer and its Trinidad-brewed XXX cousin from his vast archive.

→ There’s yet more decent coverage of beer on the BBC news website with this piece on craft beer in India by Simon Atkinson.

→ This photograph of Kate ‘Maid Marian’ Lonergan hit us hard in the childhood nostalgia glands:

→ And, finally, those of you who like to handle the goods before buying might be interested to know that Brew Britannia is apparently available in actual bricks and mortar branches of Waterstones.

News, Nuggets and Longreads 31/05/2014

Pint of beer illustration.

We’ve seen things… you people wouldn’t believe… Sambucas on fire off the Old Street roundabout… We watched EPOS systems glitter in the dark near the Arndale Centre. All those… moments… will be lost in time, like *koff* tears… In… Rain. Time… to round-up…

→ Saved to Pocket this week, an interview with Martin Hayes, founder of the Craft Beer Company chain of pubs and bars. On ‘craft beer’: “I kind of hate the term now.”

→ We’ve also saved this 1200-word piece from the New York Times on White Labs and the farming of speciality brewing yeasts. (Yeast in the NYT! And not bloody beard or underpants yeast, either — proper yeast!)

→ There’s yet more coverage of beer on the BBC news website with this profile of Croydon’s The Cronx brewery. It’s a weirdly uncritical, rather pointless piece that seems to have escaped from the Morning Advertiser but, hey, it’s beer on the Beeb.

→ Thornbridge and Waitrose have launched a national home brewing challenge: submit three bottles of your home brew to Thornbridge by 31 July for a chance to have it brewed professionally.

→ A follow-up to our Boddington’s Bitter post, how about this shot of a very modern pub, from c.1978? (Note the two young men trying to work out if their beer is ‘straw-coloured’ or just light brown.)

There’s a bit of a brouhaha brewing at Shepherd Neame, which offers an interesting glimpse into the tensions behind the running of a British family brewery.

→ And, finally, if you’re out and about in Cornwall today, the St Ives beer festival is on until this evening.

News, Nuggets & Longreads 24/05/2014

Bloke drinking beer.

After the longest break we’ve taken from blogging in a while, here’s our usual Saturday morning round-up of what’s good to read.

(A report on ‘what we did on our holidays’ will follow tomorrow.)

Tony Naylor’s piece on unfiltered/unfined beer for The Guardian rather echoes our thoughts on the matter:

I can’t deny the aesthetic appeal of the perfect clear pint. But I also realise that is a rather daft, inherited prejudice. Moreover, this criticism of “London murky”… seems to spring from a general cynicism about the febrile creativity of the craft beer scene, rather than objective fact.

→ Adrian Tierney-Jones found a fascinating letter from 1921, concerning questions of the clarity, quality and price of beer: “How are we to reconcile the taste for acidity, common or peculiar to the cider districts, with the taste for soft drinking mild, free from the slightest acidity, pertaining to the next county?”

→ Saved to Pocket this week: a piece by Jonathan Moses about the architecture of the famous Black Friar pub in the City of London.

→ ‘Even Ulan Bator has Irish Pubs‘ is the latest beer-related piece from the BBC news magazine, which seems to be committed to the subject:

IPC’s designers offered to fit out Irish pubs abroad in one of four basic styles – the “country”, a cottage-like room with stone floors and wooden beams; the “shop”, intended to resemble a bar which doubles as a hardware store or pharmacy; the “brewery”, with cobbled floors and upturned tables; and the “Victorian”, an ornate interior fashioned after Dublin’s grander hostelries. There later came the “Celtic”, which saw Gaelic-style swirls and patterns carved into wood.

→ We liked this portrait of a brewer, and wondered why we don’t see more of these on social media:

→ And, finally, the first two reviews of Brew Britannia arrived this week, from Nick Mitchell, and from The Beer Nut on behalf of Beoir.

News, Nuggets & Longreads 17/05/2014

Kidnapping of Freddy Heineken poster.

Dear readers: if our calculations are correct, you will receive this blog post on Saturday morning.

(We wrote most of it on Thursday before heading off on our grand tour of the North.)

→ We can’t claim to have had anything to do with this one (unlike Dogbolter) but it seems another seminal beer which has a starring role in our book — Brendan Dobbin’s Yakima Grande Pale Ale — is making a return from the dead. Tandleman has all the details here.

→ Saved to Pocket this week is this piece from All About Beer on British family brewers and historic brewing by Adrian Tierney-Jones.

This 1905 essay/lecture on ‘The Popular Type of Beer’ (via @YvanSeth) is worth a look in light of ongoing questions about the historic importance (or otherwise) of beer clarity:

I think it is pretty well agreed that an ideal beer for modern taste must have the following characteristics:—

  1. Brilliancy which is not dimmed by cooling.

  2. Low alcoholic strength.

  3. Good condition with a permanent head.

  4. A clean, fairly full, and mature character, a delicate hop flavour, and pleasant aroma.

→ Phil Mellows’ portrait of a distinctly old-fashioned Welsh pub is highly evocative: “After the smell of wet dog, what struck me first about the place was that, in 21st century terminology, it’s a micropub.”

They’re making a film about the kidnapping of Freddy Heineken starring Anthony Hopkins as the wealthy brewing heir. But it turns out it’s not the first — Rutger Hauer had a go at the role a couple of years ago.

→ After a week of sometimes fraught discussion about the intricacies of beer cellaring techniques, here’s another nugget from Ed.

We’re hosting the 88th beer blogging session on Friday 6 June, with the topic of ‘traditional beer mixes’: if you blog, get involved.