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News, Nuggets & Longreads 02/05/2015

This is a scheduled post that we wrote on Thursday, by which time we already had a crazy number of interesting links in our stash.

→ First, an update on a story from a couple of weeks ago: the developers who illegally demolished the Carlton Tavern in London’s Maida Vale earlier this month have been ordered to rebuild it so that it looks exactly as it did before demolition. (This story has not only gone mainstream but also global: people really don’t like ruthless property developers.)

→ Award-winning blogger Bryan D. Roth gave us a two part epic about the economics of barrel-ageing, and of acquiring suitable barrels. Pt 1: Over a Barrel — The Rising Cost of a Speciality Beer | Pt 2: Reporter’s Notebook — Why I Wanted to Write About Barrels.

Benjamin Nunn took Windsor & Eton to task over the lack of clarity in the distinction between two beers with the same name, but at drastically different strengths: ‘How on the remotest quarters of King John’s Earth can 7.2% and 4.0% beer possibly be the same thing? It’s ridiculous.’

→ Matt Górecki, lately manager of Leeds’s North Bar and now an independent consultant and brewer, wrote a piece for Glynn Davis’s new Beer Insider website exposing the tension between north and south in British craft beer: ‘There was a slight bitterness in the North, a tangible harrumph when London went from “beer wasteland” to “totes craft” in the space of about six months in 2012.’

→ For the Morning AdvertiserLiberal Democrat MP Greg Mulholland provided a lengthy inside view of the campaign to ‘Save the Pub’:

It seemed – and the pubcos and their lobbyists and friends, inside and outside Westminister were sure – that this issue was done and dusted for the parliament. A phoney ‘solution’ that would simply allow business as usual. Well they didn’t bank on the detailed Freedom of Information requests and the hours of analysis of the findings by me and Fair Pint founder Simon Clarke. What we unearthed – the obvious collusion between BIS and the pubcos – was devastating, BIS had cut and pasted the BBPA’s solution and slapped a logo on and presented it as their own, including even the same typos.

→ For All About Beer, Jeff Alworth considered the narrowing gap between established ‘craft’ and the ‘crafty’ end of big beer — ‘that bright line separating the corner brewery and Budweiser is getting fuzzier by the day’.

→ The launch of BrewDog’s fourth Equity for Punks crowd-funding scheme prompted this piece from Moneyweek‘s John Stepek:

What’s different about the BrewDog offering is that, technically, it’s an investment. You are buying a stake in the company. But really, on these terms, it’s no less of a ‘hobbyist’ investment than buying a virtual spaceship.

(Via @aletalk, via @philmellows.)

→ Lars Marius Garshol provided a typically evocative survey of the beer scene in Riga, Latvia:

Labietis is a modern craft brewery, but not in the naive “let’s brew some IPAs and porters” type of way. Instead, they’ve been very creative, drawing on past traditions without necessarily attempting (or pretending to attempt) any kind of historical veracity. Their Radzinš (4.3%, 11 IBU) is a wheat beer flavoured with carraway (as in some Norwegian farmhouse ales), and quite a lot of carraway by the flavour.

→ And, finally, we hadn’t realised quite how desperate things had become until we saw this:


3 replies on “News, Nuggets & Longreads 02/05/2015”

It would have been nice if all that writing were about the economics of barrel aging. Sadly, it’s just another fret and apology piece on how one cost input can mean extra cost to the consumer without any actually analysis. The question has to include not just acquiring the barrel but how many reuses the barrel gets, how efficient the transfer of flavour is, and whether different breweries charge different mark up on this part of the total cost input. As we have recently learn how certain famous hop bombs have quietly used extracts and not more expensively handled whole leaf for years, the beer buyer needs to know whether the best technique is being applied to provide the best value. This “life of a brewer is tough and hard to understand” line of writing needs to be left behind.

‘This “life of a brewer is tough and hard to understand” line of writing needs to be left behind.’

I don’t know what to say other than that neither of us read it that way, and this line, from the end of Pt 2, made us think of you:

‘What will the increasing cost of barrels do to some of our beloved brews? Probably increase the cost. Most likely force them to seek new types of barrels to use…. Or even – gasp – put greater emphasis on “regular” beer.’

Sourcing decent barrels at a reasonable price is certainly something that brewers in the UK have told us is challenging and the chap at the Wild Beer Co told us the names of his suppliers were one thing he wasn’t willing to share with competitors.

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