homebrewing News

News, Nuggets & Longreads 27/02/2016

Here’s all the beer- and pub-related writing we’ve found most interesting in the last week, from Vietnam to mince pie stout.

→ For the Wall Street Journal Emma Hurt has been exploring Vietnam’s nascent craft beer scene:

“When they first tried our beer, people would say, ‘This doesn’t taste like beer,’ ” says Alex Violette, the brewmaster at Saigon’s Pasteur Street Brewing Company. “I would respond, ‘No, what you’ve been drinking doesn’t taste like beer. It tastes like water. This is beer.’ ”

(Via Joe Stange.)

→ Ed has been ageing porter with Brettanomyces and his experiments lead him to a pleasing conclusion: ‘Those old brewers knew what they were doing when they aged porter for a year.’

BrewDog's DIY DOG e-book (cover and collage).

→ The release of DIY DOG, a free e-book containing recipes for every BrewDog beer ever produced, was greeted with general delight and just a smattering of cynicism — what are they up to? Who cares? Are the recipes even truthful? Why does the origin story it contains omit to mention Martin Dickie’s time at Thornbridge before starting BrewDog? (We joined in that last one.) Luke Robertson at Ale of a Time found this all a bit wearying and has a rant about why BrewDog in particular get it in the neck:

I have many issues with Brewdog and don’t drink their beer for a number of reasons but to pretend they are any different than 90% of the other breweries out there is pretty ridiculous. They are all marketing, they are all lying, and they are all stretching the truth. Brewdog just happen to be really damn good at it.

→ On the same subject Stu at Train Beers wonders why BrewDog didn’t go all in and release the recipes under a Creative Commons license:

[If] they gave their recipes a Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike license, not only would [any brewery using them commercially] have to attribute Brewdog, they would also have to share the recipe they themselves used, along with any changes they made along the way. This would create a buzz around the recipe, allowing others to tweak, change and brew… while releasing their recipe under the same license.

Harry's Bar -- a shot of the theatrical staging of Hangmen.
SOURCE: Delfont Theatre website.

→ Martyn Cornell has something you don’t often come across on beer blogs: a review of a play, Martin McDonagh’s Hangmen. Why? Because it’s set in a pub of course…

Pub historians will not have much to complain about the staging, though: I suspect straight glasses, rather than dimples, would have been used in a real Oldham pub in 1965, and the bitter looked a little too amber and definitely too flat for a real North West of England brew at the time (though the mild was authentically dark as Barber Booth in a blackout. There was, too, plenty of smoky fug being puffed across the stage, and much use of the on-the-wall cigarette machine.

→ It’s never too soon to start thinking about Christmas (sob) and Kat Sewell’s home brewed Mince Pie Imperial Stout sounds like fun. We agree wholeheartedly with this statement:

I should probably be adding cinnamon and ginger but when it came to it on brew day I decided against spices.  I just haven’t had a beer that wasn’t ruined by them.

Header from the New Yorker: Fishdog River Brewing Co's Ultimate IPA.

→ And, finally, in The New Yorker of all places, Amos Vernon parodies the ever-inflating marketing spiel that accompanies the release of novelty IPAs these days:

Our innovative quantum-hopping technique squeezes more hoppy goodness into each and every bottle than traditional Euclidean geometry deems possible. The process is simple: first we snort a generous line of hop dust just to get up our nerve. Then we shoot a billion hops per second into the mash tun using a modified particle accelerator. This rips apart the space-time fabric just enough for us to shove a few extra hops into the cracks with a jackhammer.

(Via Thomas Turnell-Read.)

3 replies on “News, Nuggets & Longreads 27/02/2016”

Interesting how people see things different ways. I support business, lifeblood of our economy. Companies don’t lie in the sense I would normally take the word, they are trying to sell a product and people can form their own judgments: most are not turnips falling off a truck. There can be fun and hoopla in the process too, as people like Stone and Brewdog have shown. It’s like election campaigns, sometimes raucous and connected to reality only tenuously. That’s okay, and preferable certainly to places where I can buy one or two beers because that’s all the government or some controlling family deems suitable for me.


There isn’t any general intellectual property right in recipes except when “when a recipe or formula is accompanied by substantial literary expression in the form of an explanation or directions, or when there is a combination of recipes, as in a cookbook, there may be a basis for copyright protection.” This is the reason brewers hold these sorts of technical instructions close to the chest. So there is no need to have a Creative Commons license to make one of these beers. And there is no illegality in cloning beers. I was interviewed by the New York Times in 2005 when someone floated the idea of “open source beer” but the only bit that got quoted was about how stupid the recipe was, not how stupid the whole idea was.

I think the point is that most breweries don’t tell us anything about the brewers themselves, beyond basic biographical detail for anyone who’s curious enough to find out. Most breweries certainly don’t claim that the brewers, as individuals, have qualities X & Y, then build a brand image for the beer on the back of those qualities. But this is what BD have done pretty much since day one. Small wonder that the brewers get a bit more sceptical scrutiny than most of their peers.

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