News, Nuggets & Longreads 03/10/2015

Beer and smartphone 03 October 2015.

Here’s our pick of the most interesting beer- and pub-related writing of the last week, with a sneaky contribution to Session 104 hidden at the end.

→ For All About Beer, Jeff Alworth asks ‘How Wild is Your Beer?‘:

Is there a difference between inoculated-wild ales and truly wild ales? There is. A Brett-aged beer will develop a lot of complexity as the wild yeast slowly creates different flavor and aroma compounds. Some breweries even add a cocktail of Brettanomyces, Lactobacillus, and Pediococcus, which creates even more complexity. But truly wild ales have something more… [You’re] getting the taste of place.

→ Connor Murphy at the Beer Battered blog has been spurred into a blogging frenzy by the imminence of the Independent Manchester Beer Convention (IndyManBeerCon). The first post in a series profiling local brewers looks at Mark Welsby at Runaway:

I knew I wasn’t motivated by money because, in my previous role, the more successful I got, the more miserable I got. Brewing gave us the chance to leave everything we hated about our previous jobs, so we came upon the name Runaway because we were both escaping our past lives.

→ Lucy Corne, author of the book African Brew, considers the sustainability of South Africa’s craft beer boom:

[One] thing that struck me was the difference in clientele between the Garden Route gathering and your average Cape Town or Jozi beerfest. Instead of throngs of beautiful, flat-cap-wearing hipsters, the attendees were an even mix of student age drinkers, families with toddlers in tow and retired or soon-to-be-retired couples keen to taste some unusual ales… In fact, the vast majority of questions posed during my tutored tasting sessions came from… white haired ladies expressing a keen interest in beer.

→ For The Awl Jason Diamond considers the fate of the American neighbourhood bar in the face of gentrification:

Those kinds of bars, the ones with the old neon lights, beat-to-hell seats, and imported beer lists that consist entirely of old bottles of Heineken and Corona, are often wrongly called the “dive bars” by the new neighbors who spend just enough money just carelessly enough for you to know that they have too much.

→ Nathaniel Southwood went to the Czech Republic on his hols and gave a typically enthusiastic and entertaining account of visiting the Pilsner Urquell brewery: ‘Oh shit. Fresh. The slightly rough mouthfeel, the clean yeastiness. This is a different beer; this is not the beer I know; This. Is. Lager.’

→ This week’s brewery buy-out news: Australia’s Mountain Goat Beer has sold to Pacific giant Asahi; and cult favourite Dogfish Head has sold a 15 per cent stake to a private equity firm.

→ And, finally, did you know their were raunchy craft beer romance novels? (I got about 20 pages into Paradise Hops before bailing: a serious lack of sexy hops and could have been set anywhere, really. — Boak.)

Actually, not ‘Finally’ — a sneaky contribution to the Session #104

Stan Hieronymus and Jay Brooks have asked whether the Session, when beer bloggers worldwide take it in turns to name a topic for everyone else to write about, should be put to bed after more than 100 instalments. Alan McLeod has taken on the challenge of hosting what may be one last time, asking:

‘[If] we just “take the philosophical approach, that the Session has run its course” aren’t we really admitting that beer blogging is a massive failure?’

Almost every week, we find enough interesting links that have interested us to fill a post like this so, no, we don’t think beer blogging has failed.

But even we, with our rose-tinted beer goggles and cheer-leading tendency will acknowledge that it feels at times a bit like how it must have been to be on the staff of Sinclair User c.1992.

Perhaps there’s a clue in the fact that quite often, as above, many of the links we highlight aren’t from  other blogs — they’re from magazines and news websites.

Maybe blogging is like home brewing? It makes sense when good stuff is hard to come by but, as the market responds, it gets harder for amateurs to motivate themselves. Some continue regardless, of course, because they have particularly niche interests, or for the sake of self-expression. And, of course, some go professional.

So, in a sense, beer blogging has been rather successful.

Watching the Session limp on, though, is making us feel sad, and we reckon it’s time to let it go.

4 thoughts on “News, Nuggets & Longreads 03/10/2015”

  1. Interesting homebrew analogy, and if there’s a gap in the blogging scene it’s good homebrew blogs (port66 and Brulosophy are honourable exceptions, i’ve never been quite convinced by the Mad Fermentationist) , even the great Jim’s Beer Kit forum isn’t as lively as it used to be. There are lots of what-i-did diary posts but little in the way of reflection on the why rather than the how.

    I started brewing 7 or 8 years ago and there’s been a huge shift from plastic buckets and DIY heath robinson contraptions to slick 2 grand state of the art stainless rigs from new specialist manufacturers. London Amateur Brewers went from a dozen blokes in the upstairs room at the Wenlock to 70 odd people in the Draft House last time i went, it may be even more now down at U-Brew (and you’ve never have predicted somebody opening a homebrew workshop in London even a couple of years ago). The sleepy old NGBWJ competition rules have been usurped by the BJCP. People are being motivated by something, but i don’t think it’s necessarily a lack of quality commercial beer available. The obvious analogy is with cooking, ambitious domestic cooks haven’t been put off cooking by the availability of good food, quite the contrary.

    many of the old guard who kept the flame alive in the period between the decline of the Boots brewing section and the recent revival were motivated by price. i think this will be more of a motivation in the future as pub prices head north of £5 a pint. i know that i’m reluctant to spend that kind of money on beer when a. i know how much the ingredients cost, b. i can make something as good if not better myself for <50p a pint.

  2. I suppose we could have made clearer there that we’re talking about ourselves. We haven’t brewed in more than a year now, except for a stove-top batch of ‘Cornish Swanky’ to accompany an article. We wrote about what *used* to motivate us to brew back in 2012 since which time Belgian beer has hit Penzance, St Austell have started producing a really decent German-style lager, and even Wetherspoons has gone ‘craft’.

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