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News, Nuggets & Longreads 20/12/2014

Here are some things to read if you find time between your Black Friday hangover and your Panic Saturday, er, panicking.

→ Campaigns and drives and themed days/weeks/months tend to leave us cold, especially when they’re commercially driven, but Try January is actually a pretty clever, positive response to the health lobby’s long-running Dry January: ‘The Try January campaign aims to challenge people to simply try something new at their local. To step out of their comfort zone and, rather than ordering their ‘usual’ to go for something that they haven’t tried before.’

→ Ron Pattinson and Kristen England are really motoring through the 1938 Starkey, Knight & Ford brewing log and this week provided a home brewing recipe for a 1938 SK&F ‘Family Ale’.

→ Breandán Kearney at Belgian Smaak interviewed Michaël Hulet of Belgium’s Slow Beer Club to find out more about their offbeat, family-friendly beer festival, Festibière:

There was a big room for children with lots of toys, games and colouring books. The Kids Zone was supervised by local scouts and they even did some Halloween DIY. There was also a quiet place for breast-feeding women and young parents with babies. Next year we will have even more activities for children. On Sunday there was a demo and competition of the ‘mijole’ game, a classic wooden game played in Belgian ‘estaminets’ or small cafés decades ago. It was funny to see adults playing like children!

→ On a related note, here’s Justin Page of Laughing Squid on another alternative bar business model from Dayton, Ohio: beer being served alongside workbenches, CAD terminals and 3D printers at a ‘makerspace’ workshop. (What could possibly go wrong…?)

→ This week, Founder’s Brewing of Michigan sold a 30 per cent stake to Spanish commodity lager brewery Mahou San Miguel. Stan Hieronymus’s take on what this all means is both pleasingly balanced and a nice piece of micro-storytelling: ‘Meet Jason Heystek. His business card identifies him as head cellarman and lead guitar at Founders Brewing….’

Derek Dellinger at Bear Flavored has tested a strain of yeast which is marketed to home brewers as something of a magic pill:

Wyeast doesn’t give the exact composition of this blend, but they do say that De Bom is intended to create “sour ale profiles but in a fraction of the time required by previous, less manly cultures.” A new quick sour blend with some unknown microbial agents: awesome.

→ Though the debate over pub companies and the tie is often rather emotional and bitter, this long piece by veteran beer writer Roger Protz focuses on a single point: pub companies are quite different to family brewers and their business model has not ‘been with us for centuries’.

→ We couldn’t resist showing off our sloe gin labels on Twitter but Ed Wray put us back in our box:

→ And, in the spirit of end-of-year reflection, here’s one of our most popular Tweets of 2014, from back in July:

And while we’re on the subject of us…

There’s been a pre-Christmas rush of reviews and mentions for Brew Britannia:

  • The Los Angeles Times: ‘…tells the story of how pub-culture and real ale were nearly destroyed in a flood of commodity brewing, and how passionate beer people turned the industry around.’
  • Jamie ‘Wine Anorak’ Goode: ‘I enjoyed reading this book, and if you have a strong interest in the modern British beer scene, you should probably buy a copy…’
  • A bloke called James Cleary: ‘A fascinating and entertaining account of the re-emergence of the British beer industry, which introduces to the wider public a cast-list of eccentrics, businessmen and the stereotypical bearded barrel-bellied heavy drinkers.’
  • And, finally, There’s a Beer For That (formerly Let There Be Beer) included it in a round-up of essential beer books… make of that what you will.

If that’s whet your appetite, then it’s currently going at (this is ridiculous) £1.59 for Kindle.

And, finally, our Christmas Day beer recommendations have been crammed into a handful of words in today’s Guardian Guide.

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