News, Nuggets & Longreads 17/01/2015

It’s Saturday morning and time for a few of our favourite things from the last week.

Adrian Tierney-Jones had a go at the well-worn subject of ‘local‘, with a specific context in mind:

Drinking local is ok if you live somewhere like Southwold, Bermondsey, Chiswick, Seattle, just outside Bakewell, Bamburg or across the road from Cantillon, but in other places? Local doesn’t necessarily mean good as I recall when a brewery briefly opened up on Exmoor over a decade ago. Even though its sole beer won beer of the festival down in Minehead… it was a beer that I didn’t get on with and I rarely drunk it. It’s long gone.

→ Joe Stange was on a similar trip: if an American brewery with a German brewmaster makes a Berliner Weiss in its new German plant… what exactly does local mean, anyway?

→ With the increase in demand for craft beer comes pressure to find staff who can do a convincing job of selling them, as Fritz Hahn reported for the Washington Post:

The guy sitting next to us asked the bartender about the provenance of a strong Belgian ale. After some hemming and hawing, the bartender admitted, “Honestly, I drink PBR and Jack Daniels. I can’t pronounce half these beers.”

(Via @BryanDRoth)

→ The UK National Archives blog published a great piece by Roger Kershaw on pubs under state management during World War I, generously illustrated with photographs, letters and documents.

→ Andy Crouch’s piece on Jim Koch is the gift that keeps on giving and Australian blogger Luke Robertson asked some very good questions in a counterpoint to Pete Brown’s much-shared post from last week:

And why should everyone be drinking the same beers simply because they have a place in beer history? Is the idea that every time we drink a few beers that we drink the same classic brands to appease the gods before we move on to something we actually want to drink? What sort of weird culture are people trying to promote here?

→ There was more food for thought in re: ‘the third place’, this time from Ed Levine for Serious Eats. It’s not about beer or pubs, but American diners, though there are parallels:

I’m not trying to bash diner food here. I’m just saying that food is not what you come to a diner for, and it’s not why diners remain a vitally important part of our culture. Diners are so important because they are the greatest bastions of civility, service, and dare I say grace available to all economic strata in this country.

→ For the record, there was yet another tiresome trademark dispute, albeit with a vaguely interesting outcome.

→ Thornbridge’s ongoing metamorphosis into a respectable regional brewery continues with this bit of rather grown-up, Adnamsesque graphic design:

6 replies on “News, Nuggets & Longreads 17/01/2015”

The “drink local” thing is interesting. When I’m in a cynical mood I suspect that a lot of pubs around here – in the absence of many particularly reputable local breweries – are using it to put a positive spin on the fact that they don’t want to pay top dollar for really good beer and would rather stock anything drinkable that they can get for cheap.

Or the silly Locale campaign. Or many publicans are not that informed nor care to be informed on who are the current brewing gods. Or very likely the customers actually like the beer from local producers and they decide the range.

It’s not really about “current brewing gods” – I’m not expecting them all to have Anspach and Whatshisface tap takeovers every week – it’s more that I’ll normally pick a decent Adnams pub (say) over one that serves similar but less good beer from “local microbreweries”.

That’s the nub of the problem: if your local microbreweries aren’t making beer that’s better than the stuff your local regional/family turns out… what’s the point? (OK — variety, maybe, or support for the underdog.)

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