News, Nuggets & Longreads 05/12/2015

This is the writing about beer we’ve most enjoyed, or at least found most stimulated our brains, in the last week.

→ Lars Marius Garshol post about traditional brewing in Telemark is one of his best yet, covering what feels like completely fresh territory with a tone and details that suggest some lost 19th century collection of fairy tales:

When he turned the tap to draw the first drops of beer, his grandma pushed her way past everyone else, and insisted on having the first drops in a cup she’d brought. Then she went outside in the yard and threw the beer onto a rock in the middle of the yard, shouting “out of the way!”… Now, this wasn’t just any old rock. Since before anyone could remember another rock had been sitting on top of it. The top rock was in the shape of a phallos. It used to stand up, but, well, that didn’t seem proper any more. However, they couldn’t throw it away, either, so now it lies on its side. That was the rock grandma threw the beer onto.

→ We came across Dave Infante’s article via Tom Cizauskas (@Cizauskas) who described it as ‘Thrillist hyberbole’ but rightly concedes it is worth reading anyway: ‘There Are Almost No Black People Brewing Craft Beer. Here’s Why‘.

The Connoisseur. (Of whisky, not beer.)

→ Will Haydock, an academic specialising in binge-drinking, class and culture, wrote about the exercising of taste versus the act of getting drunk and whether the two can be reconciled:

As soon as we’ve thought through that our liking for ‘real ale’ is partly down to the perceived resonances with some fictionalised version of the past, surely that pint suddenly doesn’t taste so sweet (or rather, bitter)?  Saying (or thinking) these things out loud makes them seem a bit ridiculous, doesn’t it?

→ For the fairly new Midlands Beer Blog Collective Bob Maxfield considers how Birmingham’s beer scene has changed in recent years and how much further it might go:

Our own beer destination of choice has become Leeds, with its fantastic array of bars including North Bar, Friends of Ham and Tapped Leeds. Each time we have visited Leeds my wife and I have asked ourselves the same question: ‘Why isn’t Birmingham this good?’

Watneys Red Barrel beer mat.

→ The closure of the brewery at Mortlake, London, is arguably in historic terms the story of the year and so we’re delighted that Martyn Cornell has tackled it at length:

That the brewery at Mortlake, which has been pumping out hundreds of thousands of barrels a year of Budweiser for the past two decades, should have survived to be at least 250 years old this year is remarkable: it lost its independent in 1889, and the guillotine has been poised above its neck for the past six years… The Mortlake site, famous as the home of Watney’s Red Barrel, was one of eight huge breweries still operating in London in the mid-1970s, which between them made one in every five pints drunk in Britain.

→ Meanwhile, another London brewery, Meantime, which was absorbed by SAB-Miller   earlier this year, may now be sold on again as the giant multi-national formed by the merger with AB-InBev seeks to address concerns over competition in the marketplace.

→ Those shopping for the Christmas period might find Rachel ‘Look at Brew’ Smith’s guide to the bottled beers of Sussex useful.

→ A pair of book reviews that are interesting in their own right: first, Roger Protz considers Eric Doré’s new book about the Morse brewery of East Anglia; and (via @PhilMellows) Dr Callum Browne provides a tantalising summary of Anthony Cooke’s A History of Drinking: The Scottish Pub Since 1700.

→ And, finally, it’s Rach again, with an image that will send a shiver down many a beer geek’s spine: