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.

News, Nuggets & Longreads 10/05/2014

Bloke drinking beer.

Live from Penzance… it’s Saturday Morning! Which means it’s time for some links to go with your Fruit’n’Fibre.

→ Vice‘s Ali Gourley spent a day at the new ‘PoundPub’ in Atherton, Manchester, questioning whether the bargain boozer is really, as per the media moral panic, a recipe for binge-drinking disaster. The conclusion (spoiler…) is eloquently expressed: “PoundPub is not an exemplar of Broken Britain – it’s a rare and welcome boon for broke Britain.” (1500 words; via @RoryElsome.)

Bob at Anchor Brewing grapples with the question of which ‘style’ category Liberty Ale belongs in — it’s not called an IPA, but everyone has decided it is one.

→ Pete Brown’s extended polemic on the subject of poor handling of ‘craft beer’ in pubs and bars makes some good points:

The situation is often little better with craft keg: beers pour cloudy, flat and lifeless, and because it’s ‘craft’, most bartenders and drinkers, for whom this is a new experience, assume it’s meant to be like that… At six quid a pint, this simply won’t do.

→ Belgian Beer and Food magazine has provided a translation of an open letter from Belgian brewers on the subject of contract brewing:

In concrete terms, the clear and visible mention on each label of the brewery where the beer in question was actually made. Along similar lines, only those enterprises who possess their own equipment for the brewing of beer, which is used to manufacture the entirety of their production, should be permitted to use the term “brewery”.

(Via @RobSterowski whose commentary on it is here.)

→ For obvious reasons, this was our favourite Tweet of the week:

→ In other Brew Britannia news, the first (partial) review has landed, and our promotional tour is almost upon us, starting at the Port Street Beer House in Manchester next Sunday afternoon (18 May).

→ Finally, after a three-month hiatus caused by technical difficulties, veteran Liverpool-based beer and music blogger RedNev is back online. Phew! Though there are always plenty of interesting new bloggers around, it makes us feel a bit lonely when other veterans abandon ship, so we’re glad Nev’s not gone for good.

News, Nuggets and Longreads 03/05/2014

Bloke drinking beer.

Happy day, brothers and sisters! Here’s your Saturday morning reading sorted.

Thornbridge has been declared the best drinks producer in the UK by BBC Radio 4 Food Programme‘s Food and Farming awards. BrewDog came third. (The stories of both breweries are covered in some detail in Brew Britannia.)

→ Yvan Seth (who is now running a beer distribution business) has given some thought to how the cost of a pint breaks down.

(We’ve been brewing a post for while on a related subject: what impact might the introduction of the minimum wage and statutory holiday entitlement have had on the price of beer in the pub?)

→ News from Nick Mitchell of more single-hop ales from Marks & Spencer:

It did seem that the craft beer revolution had stopped being able to squeeze into its tight girl jeans and instead had pulled a nice comfy Blue Harbour rugby shirt over its growing paunch when Marks and Spencer started selling single-hopped beers…

Ushers sign

→ Saved to Pocket this week: Simon Usborne’s piece for the Independent on how the old Usher’s brewery ended up in North Korea.

→ Our new favourite blog is The Quest for Edelstoff in which a German living in the UK attempts to perfect the home brewing of Bavarian-style beers through perseverance and precision.

→ We’re looking forward to trying this historically-inspired beer at North Bar in Leeds when we make our appearance on 19 May:

→ And, finally, we’re no experts, doesn’t Jim Koch’s magic anti-drunkenness yeast goop only work, if and when it does, because of the placebo effect? Decide you’re not going to get drunk and you won’t? (Which goes the other way, too.)

News, Nuggets and Longreads 26/04/2014

Father Ted: careful now.
Anti-hazy beer campaigners pictured outside the CAMRA AGM in Scarborough this morning.

We’re off up country to investigate a couple of interesting-sounding pubs but, as always, we’ve found time to put together a few links to accompany your coffee and bacon.

→ Julian Healey, the founder of Australia-based website, emailed us a few weeks ago. Having now had a chance to look at this comprehensive catalogue of hop varieties and their characteristics, we’ve bookmarked it, because it’s good. (What’s in it for him? Advertising revenue, as far as we can tell — nothing sinister.)

The Guardian‘s Tony Naylor is back on beer with two articles in the last week: one listing central London’s best craft beer pubs, and another on the rise of the ‘craft’ bottle shop.

Will Hawkes writes about smoked beers for the Independent.

This by the Beer Nut got us thinking:

Wrasslers XXXX [is] a beer I’m coming increasingly to believe would be badged as a black IPA if it were brewed today for the first time.

→ It seems that, at long last, brewers might be realising that the marketing edge of using clear and green glass is outweighed by the potential for damage to the beer and to their reputations. Marston’s have made a commitment to using brown (‘amber’) glass and are, in fact, now being a bit sneery about clear bottles; while Pilsner Urquell are bringing back brown bottles in the UK from next year.

→ The nearest we’ve found to a ‘long read’ this week is this 1000-word piece by Daniel Riley for GQ which is about compulsively ‘ticking’ hipster restaurants, but might make uncomfortable reading for craft beer fans:

This attentiveness to these lists—the fact that I keep a list of lists—is proof of something. That I know about food? Nope. That I’m a little bit compulsive? Probably. That I have bought into a system in which part of my value—the part that says whether I’m worth my salt in small talk—can be measured by the restaurants where I’ve stuffed my face?

→ And, finally, you can now read samples of Brew Britannia using Amazon’s ‘Look Inside’ feature. This is rather a nerve-wracking moment for us. We hope you like it, especially if you’ve been holding off ordering a copy until you could handle the goods.

News, Nuggets and Longreads 19/04/2014

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

Here are a few things we’ve spotted around the blogoshire and beyond for you to enjoy with your hangover.

→ There’s a real sense of place evoked through small details in this piece on a Sam Smith’s pub in Cardiff from Craig Heap, and it made us want to drink their beer.

→ Is it time for breweries to indicate a recommend retail price for their beer?

→ Old wooden brewery crates are practical and attractive, but they go at a premium on Ebay, but Bob Arnott has a solution.

→ Saved to Pocket this week: a piece on the new Oregon Hops & Brewing archive at Oregon State University. (Via @brewingarchives)

→ We wrote a not entirely serious piece explaining why you should order a copy of Brew Britannia. (If you don’t like Amazon or Waterstones, you could ask your local independent bookshop to get a copy on order.)

→ We’re fascinated by the question of whether ‘golden ale’ is really a 1980s invention so this example of a notably pale beer with the brand name Golden Ale from the 1930s has us intrigued.

→ Here’s a piece we were asked to write for the Guardian’s Comment is Free blog section, on big brewery mergers. (Annoyingly, we got the brewery number statistic wrong – we’ve asked for it to be corrected.)