News, Nuggets & Longreads 2 Jan 2016

The Victoria, Paddington.

Here’s what we’ve been reading and thinking on in the last week from around the beer blogs and beyond.

→ We first became aware of the Black Country Ale Tairsters when we saw their card pinned to the wall at the Star Inn; now, the BBC has their story as they near 300,000 miles on their ongoing epic pub crawl.

Illustration: home brewing hydrometer.

POINT: There is too much bad beer being produced by so-called craft breweries who don’t really know what they’re doing, says Michael Agnew for The Growler magazine (via @StanHieronymus):

Allow me to be clear about something: When I say bad beer, I’m not talking about beer that I don’t like… I’m talking about beer with real, quantifiable flaws. I mean seriously under-attenuated beers that taste like wort. Diacetyl-laden butter bombs. Flat-tasting beers with muted flavors from using the wrong brewing water. Sour beers that taste like sweaty vinegar, and sour beers that weren’t meant to be sour. Medicinal-tasting Belgians. The unbalanced, train wreck, kitchen-sink beers with so much stuff that you can’t discern one flavor from another.

→ COUNTERPOINT: No there isn’t, says Steve ‘The Pour Fool’ Body, and, even if there’s some, it’s all part of the journey:

[New] craft breweries open and make the usual rookie mistakes: their ambitions outrun their skills, their bank account leaves them short of equipment and materials, they really do NOT understand the science/art frisson that’s at the heart of brewing beer, they have a hard time learning their equipment and batch scaling, they’re overwhelmed by early success and try to rush beers out before they’re ready… or they’re just run by jugheads whose sole interest in craft brewing is looking cool and using up some disposable income. Of those groups, it’s really only the last one that doesn’t promise to get better.

Watney's Red -- detail from beer mat.

→ Alec Latham has been pondering his relationship with the two beer ‘revolutions’ of the last 50 years:

Towards the end of 2015 I turned 38 and it gave me pause to think about my vintage… What a thing to have been there in the 1970s. Young swaggering drinkers of cask beer who refused to let Britain’s unique beer tradition die out. They won. But what a thing to be young and a brewer now. A gourmet of hops and ingredients from across the planet and a railway arch to rock your profession under, meet your fans and raise the profile of beer.

→ On a related note, BBC business correspondent Peter Day has made a programme reflecting on the nature of British craft beer. You can listen to the show via the BBC’s podcast page or read a summary of his argument here:

To find out why it happened here you probably have to go back 50 years, back to another era of local brews and breweries… In reaction to the growing uniformity of beer sold in Britain, a group of enthusiastic drinkers got together in 1971 to form Camra, the Campaign for Real Ale. And this small group of enthusiasts had enormous impact.

→ And finally, here’s a quietly provoking thought…

One thought on “News, Nuggets & Longreads 2 Jan 2016”

  1. nothing better than people who initially admit that all taste is completely subjective and as such there is no such things as objectively good and objectively bad beer… AND THEN go onto to make sweeping value judgements about beer and claim they’re being entirely objective.

    Maybe some people LIKE beer that tastes like wort and diacetyl and sweaty vinegar.

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