News, Nuggets & Longreads 22/11/2014

It’s Saturday, so here’s a gurt load of links for ‘ee.

→ Jack Highberger doesn’t hate pumpkin beers, and he tasted a lot of them to come up with his Pumpkin Beer Flavor Map. An interesting exercise we’re tempted to imitate with another niche style.

→ Saved to Pocket (that is, we haven’t read it yet) this week is Jim Vorel’s piece for Paste magazine on Anheuser-Busch’s pilot brewery. There is a judgement suggested in the title: ‘The Belly of the Beast’.

→ Martyn Cornell has published a transcript of a talk he gave in Copenhagen on ‘place-based beer‘. This is a topic we’ve been thinking about a lot recently — what would be in a really Cornish ale, as opposed to an English-style ale that just happens to be brewed in Cornwall?

→ And the opposite of beers from a place:

→ Stan Hieronymus knows about hops so his comments on the espresso-style Randall-esque hop infuser recently launched in the UK are especially interesting:

In addition, yeast becomes a key player in dry hopping, because of the biotransformations that occur when yeast and hop hang out together — another area where much more research is needed. Those aren’t going to occur in the seconds it takes beer to pass through the “Hoppier.”

→ We can’t possibly know whether the motives are cynical or pure, but Left Hand Brewing’s response to a trademark dispute is a great example of how to turn bad PR to your advantage.

→ The big news of the week has been the success of the Fair Deal 4 Your Local campaign in getting the government to make it compulsory for pub companies to offer tenants the right to pay a market rent for their pubs and thus remove themselves from the obligation to buy from a limited range of beer at an inflated price. Jeff ‘Stonch’ Bell wrote an off-the-cuff response which struck us as perceptive and balanced, and Pete Brown’s thoughts are also worth a read.

→ And if you’re in London, why not come and say hello at Tap East this afternoon? We’ll be signing books, having a few beers, and chatting from 2-4 pm.

17 replies on “News, Nuggets & Longreads 22/11/2014”

I always find there’s a bit of a nasty whiff of elitism to comments like Lars’ – it’s all very well to roll your eyes at a lineup like that if you’re an international beer playboy, but I’d imagine that if you’re a local who’s into that sort of thing and don’t have the option of nipping over to Oslo or Riga to drink Mikkeller then you’d find it pretty damn exciting.

There’s a similar thing around here – I wouldn’t recommend the Pint Shop in Cambridge to a visiting beer geek because it’s basically like a less good version of the Craft Beer Co. On the other hand, as a local beer geek I’m very much in favour of it because it’s basically like a less good version of the Craft Beer Co. (It doesn’t help that around here “local ales” is starting to sound more like a threat than a promise, but that’s another story…)

@DavidS: Of course locals want imported craft beer in Barcelona and Riga, just like I want it in Oslo. I understand that, and it’s why I put in the bit about “top-rated,” because what I don’t understand is why Ratebeer recommends me a place that has a beer menu pretty much identical to those all over Europe. That just makes no sense. Who’d travel to Barcelona and then seek out a place like that over the ones that actually have beer from Catalonia?

And why is it that those three specific Norwegian breweries are the ones that recur all over Europe, and no others? Same goes for Denmark, etc etc.

You weren’t the only person to interpret my tweet in that way, and I can see why, but there’s only so much you can squeeze into 140 characters. People who follow me on Twitter probably all knew what I meant, but, unexpectedly, this particular tweet travelled way out of that fairly safe circle.

I really like the idea of local beer expressing local conditions. The most exciting thing in this region – eastern Great Lakes both side of border – is our Heriot-Watt trained brewer growing the ingredients on his family farm and then making beer from them. The family has owned the farm since the Loyalist resettlements after the American Revolution and they are grain seed grower specialists. Literally the barley farmers’ farmers. I need to check the soils charts but the farm is also in an area near a developing high end wine region where great Reislings and Pinots are grown. After the recent years of barrel aged cherry flavoured gak holding itself out as clever, this is actually exciting:

Beer is being pushed into poncey wine talk territory (sorry ‘terroir’) The same people who were whining that local beer was rubbish and wanted it to be more like international elite beer are now moaning that that has happened and want it more local.

Most of us have jobs and normal lives, we can’t spend our time walzing around high priced continental cafes getting sniffy about beer that hasn’t been made from locally chewed loganberries.

I suspect that a lot of these people don’t actually like beer.

I suspect the opposite. If you need cherry sauce in your saison or vanilla from a barrel age, you likely eat Sugar Pop cereal and chew gum all day. Plastic beers. If you find beer with real grain tastes in the malt and local hops and herbs cutting the sweetness you are tasting what beer is and was forever. I am hoping perhaps agains reason that this move to authenticity over plastic craft is analogous to garage band punk defeating disco nearly 40 years ago.

Well, in disco terms “inauthentic” was basically a handy way of saying “popular with gay black people and hence probably suspect”. I’m not sure what that has to do with beer, though…

Thanks for the bland accusation of bigotry but obvious not. Disco in pop culture at the end was suspect due to its over wrought production, its synthetic nature – not its earlier gay culture roots. But good luck to you.

To be honest, I’m currently wondering what to make of the fact that I’m drinking a vanilla / chocolate / coffee stout (Wild Beer Co’s Wildebeest, FWIW) while listening to Nuggets. It doesn’t feel too incongruous…

I’m not super-convinced by the idea of ingredient-derived local style, largely because beer ingredients just seem too portable. Sure someone could forage herbs in the local hedgerows and make a beer from them, but I wouldn’t be put off from drinking the beer if they’d driven 200 miles up the country to go foraging for herbs instead.

I think the idea of cultural terroir is a lot more interesting (and is something that Martyn rather passes over) – the idea that a brewer who grew up drinking a common local beer style, and got their first brewing job at somewhere that did that style well, and is now producing it for a local market who are also all pretty familiar with that style is going to have a better understanding of that beer and how it’s made and how it’s served and drunk than someone who discovered it a couple of years ago and has tried a couple of dozen bottles of it and want to have a go for themself.

Which isn’t to say that people shouldn’t try making whatever they fancy – lots of great things come from happy misinterpretations – but that we shouldn’t be surprised if you still get a higher concetration of great weissbier in Bavaria or US IPA in California or mild in the Black Country than you do in most other places.

So I popped out to the brewery this afternoon and discussed the idea. For example, two thirds of the fields are clay while the balance is black loam. Their grain (not portable grain) may reflect different aspects of the soil in its flavour. A very and unfancy plan based on agriculture within the local ecology.

I don’t know if “cultural terrior” is useful. How is that not just “personal experience”?

I’m obviously a fish out of water here. I’m off to my local in a while and (for the sake of my health) will not be bringing up my ‘personal experience of cultural terroir’.

” — what would be in a really Cornish ale, as opposed to an English-style ale that just happens to be brewed in Cornwall?”

Flour and eggs? ‘White ale’ strikes me as pretty damn Cornish!

St Austell use a local barley in their ‘Trevalyen’ beer, its like a light Munich malt, but then they are big enough for that type of indulgence.

The rest of us have to get malt from a maltster, and there aren’t many of them, so the vast bulk of ingrdients in any beer isn’t local.

Unless you buy your grain from a local farmer and malt it yourself and grow your own hops then this is all BS.

Its time to can the silly French words and wine lingo from the eighties.

Blimey — we don’t usually get this many comments on a news round-up post.

Dave — to an extent, we agree, but there is something odd about how the menu in Lars’s photo looks just like the one at, say, the Hand Bar in Falmouth. Not bad, necessarily, but odd.

Liam — for a long time, a lot of beer was neither ‘local’ (in style or ingredients) *nor* interesting. Now some of it is interesting, people are starting to ask if it can’t also be local — seems a worthwhile line of enquiry to me.

Alan — we wouldn’t want it to be the only game in town but, yes, we’re intrigued by this development. A challenge to brewers, in a sense. Have you read Michael Tonsmeire’s American Sour Beers? Some interesting case studies in there of breweries driving tanks of beer into the woods and camping out overnight so they can collect wild yeast somewhere other than an industrial park. We can’t work out if that’s over the line into gimmicky.

Phil — historically, maybe, although we’re not actually that sure people down this way drank much beer at all before the 19th century. If we’re talking purely about what is cheap and abundant in modern Cornwall, then the dreaded potato starch needs to be considered.

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