News, Nuggets & Longreads 20/02/2016

Here are all the articles and blog posts about beer and pubs that have caught our attention in the last week, from Rheinheitsgebot to rejigging recipes to cope with limited hop supply.

→ Andreas Krenmair, one of the winners in our #BeeryLongreads contest before Christmas, provides some pointed criticism of the German beer purity law as celebrations for its 500th birthday gather momentum:

Brewing with other ingredients, such as juniper, marjoram, thyme, oregano, elderflowers, fir tips, birch tips, rose hips, cream of tartar, honey, ginger, gentian roots, bitter oranges, lemons, cardamom, rice, and salt, was common all over Germany. That was the understanding of beer in much of Germany from the 16th to the end of the 19th century. And it’s a sign of a rich and diverse brewing culture.

Film poster: 'And Now The Screaming Starts', 1973.

→ We’ve already shared links to Lars Marius Garshol’s latest post about Norwegian home brew tasting and feedback rituals but it’s too good not to include here:

Some places, the visitors would make no comment on the beer while in the brewhouse. Late that night, leaving the brewhouse, they would stop on the way home and scream. The louder the screams, the better the beer. In some areas people had fixed places where they’d always stop to do the screaming. If the beer was poor the screaming would be half-hearted at best.

→ For Good Beer Hunting Mike Sardina brings us the story of a brewery that had to change the law in its home state of Texas in order to sell beer beyond the walls of the brewpub where it was based:

“I recognized this going in, and I had it written into the business plan,” [Scott] Metzger says. “There was a line in the plan, big and bold, that read: ‘THIS IS ILLEGAL. We need to change the law.’ It was the dumbest thing I’ve ever written. If you write that into your business plan these days, you better re-write your damn plan. No investor should ever get behind a business plan that hinges on changing the law.”

Weird Beard Saison glowing in its glass.

→ Weird Beard Brewing’s Gregg Irwin gives some insight into the process of tweaking recipes to cope with difficulty in obtaining certain hop varieties:

[A] nice letter informed us that we would only be getting 60% of the Citra we ordered. Damn here we go again. We had just re-brewed the new version of Faceless Spreadsheet Ninja and we did not want to go through the whole variations process again.We also have a history of making changing hop beers (Little Things that Kill and Holy Hoppin’ Hell) so the possibility of adding a 3rd changing hop beer to our roster opened up. So when we relaunch Ninja in March it will be as “Spreadsheet Ninja” a  4.8% single hop, changing hop pilsner. Many of the batches will be the Citra hop as we are only a little short on Citra leaf but expect some other batches to materialise during the year.

→ Aaron Goldfarb’s piece for The Daily Beast about the bad behaviour triggered by limited edition beer releases in the US has an interesting companion piece in this statement from a specialist whisky store explaining how it intends to allocate supplies of a particularly precious product (via @whatjoewrote):

1) Whisky Lovers want to try it
2) Whisky Collectors want to own it
3) Speculators want to flip* it

If you fall into category (1) above – we like you, and you can be in our gang. We want to do everything that we possibly can to help you try the whisky.

If you fall into category (2) above – we do like you – you’re just richer than us, and we’re a bit jealous of you.

If you fall into category (3) above – good luck to you, but we’re not going to go out of our way to help you make easy money.

→ And finally an interesting nugget which may or may not be a sign of things to come: A Portsmouth pub that has spent the last year as a ‘craft beer bar’ has reverted to a more old-school offer. (On a local news site with lots of obtrusive ads unfortunately; Via @PJMcKerry.)

6 replies on “News, Nuggets & Longreads 20/02/2016”

It really surprises me to see what seems a groundswell of support in craft circles to bring down the Rheinheitsgebot. I’m not going to tell German brewers what to think, and it’s a national issue after all. But for the beer world beyond theirs, it’s too easy to forget how crucial the pure beer law was to American craft brewing and indirectly world craft brewing. The great icons of American craft brewing, Anchor Steam Beer (and all Anchor beers until much later), Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (ditto), Stone IPA, etc. are all-malt.

That is why to a large degree they made such an impact.

It is the height of ironies to see the blasé attitude to the law when it’s to a large percentage responsible why we’re all here. Yes British brewers were using sugar for pale ale and bitter but at one time, they didn’t and since they never used as much as the Americans did adjunct for American Adjunct Lager, it did the beers less harm than one might think at first sight. That’s treading water at best; it was the Americans who surged to the finish line of the beer revival with their all-malt classics. In turn, their quality impressed the British to the point that “IPA” – the American version, that is – is an established style in Britain now. It wan’t just the American hop taste, it was the richness of the beers that impressed, a trait noted by all early tasters of the Yankee brews.

Adjunct use when carefully handled probably is neither here nor there but it is a slippery slope. The whole history of American brewing shows that…


Yes, there is a diversity of views. I argue for my view and I saw from a North American perspective the great value, almost raison d’être, the pure beer law imparted to the craft beer movement. I don’t think any of us would be here talking about this but for Michael Jackson, who spoke strongly for all-malt beer in his work, and the American brewers who followed his lights.


Well of course it’s true in the sense of supporting a broad range of (quality) tastes, of world styles – his own raison d’être. But when you read carefully what he wrote about the pure beer law, which by definition relates to Germany, he was clearly in favour, that is how I read him. For example, in New World Guid To Beer, he wrote that “no beer routinely tastes as clean and malty as that made in Bavaria”. And, “in no corner of the world has as much good beer been made as in Bavaria”. Note he said Bavaria, where the law originated, and thus by implication was praising the high merits of all-malt beer vs. adjunct types. There are other statements in his work to similar effect.


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