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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 Hopslist.com, 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.

4 replies on “News, Nuggets and Longreads 26/04/2014”

The GC article is very good even if it beats in the ennui that underlies ticking and rating. What is the opposite, the thing with greater integrity? I am becoming more and more aware of how the market feeds this, producing so many varied beers or themed restaurants – or beard shape perfecting cosmetics for that matter – to the point that things which are by all measures, except the shock of the new, poorer in quality, more discordant, worse value than what has come before. Hence the boredom with this particular modernity.

It’s useful to have a sense of what’s going on and current trends, but there’s a certain sense of freedom that comes with giving up on trying to taste every hyped beer and visit every lauded pub. We’re quite happy these days to say, ‘Dunno, haven’t had it.’

I don’t think writing history has helped me in that regard. It’s not just that nothing is new but that so much through time is governed by commercial interest and profit maximization. Having a highly praised US Imperial Pale Lager was simply depressing last week. Discordant and jarring. It’s like we are down to floor sweeping in the hunt for new ideas not noticing that existing forms are perfectly good and open for exploration.

The problem too with endless variety is you have to keep outdoing yourself, and the competition, so it’s a spiral to the bottom, really. The people who focus on one or two non-outre styles and perfect them have the best chance of long-term success, IMO, as say Sierra Nevada or Boston Beer Company (or Anderson Valley or any number of smaller brewers). Experimentation is good and keeps the interest up but it can’t be a strategy unto itself IMO.

Gary

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