News, Nuggets & Longreads 22/11/2014

Illustration: breakfast reading.

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

  1. 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…)

    1. @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.

  2. 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:

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

    1. 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…

      1. 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.

        1. 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…

          1. Not that there is any­thing wrong with that. I just sus­pect in ten years it will be as dat­ed as a Mia­mi Vice linen suit.

  5. 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.

  6. 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”?

    1. 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’.

  7. ” — 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!

    1. 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.

  8. 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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