News, Nuggets & Longreads 19 March 2016

Tables and chairs at The Star Inn, Crowlas.

Here’s the best of what we’ve read about beer and pubs around the internet in the last week, from London to Lisbon.

→ Des de Moor has published a free update to his book The CAMRA Guide to London’s Best Beer, Pubs and Bars accompanied by some state-of-the-nation commentary on London’s beer scene:

London breweries continue to expand whatever their size, with Moncada and Redemption among those in the midst of long-needed upgrades. The startup rate has definitely slowed, though, and the brewery total in my latest update is down to 75 from 78 last July: a handful of closures include the last remnant of the 1970s Big Seven in London at the Stag, Mortlake, and a number of would-be brewpubs that evidently found it easier to sell other people’s beer.

→ For the Midlands Beer Blog Collective Bob Maxfield and Dave Hopkins interviewed the people behind Birmingham’s craft beer and pinball bar, Tilt, eliciting a great case study of what’s been going on in British beer in the last decade or so:

I fell out of love with CAMRA when, some years later, while following a Ramstein tour, we decided to visit the Brewdog Bars we had been reading about. I then found Stirchley Wines who did a half decent selection at the time and had a bit of Great Divide and some Mikeller. They had all the Brewdog stuff and it was at that point that I started to get really excited, and begun to get more involved with Beer Advocate again, and started trading beers with others.

Cigar City Brewing logo.
SOURCE: Cigar City Brewing website.

→ Takeover news #1: US brewery Cigar City, long-rumoured to a target for takeover by one of the multi-nationals, ‘has agreed to sell controlling interest to Boston-based private equity firm Fireman Capital Partners’, according to Chris Furnari reporting for beer news website Brewbound. Or it was taken over by another brewery, Oskar Blues, according to, er, Cigar City: ‘Putting months of acquirement rumors to rest, the decision is driven by mutual irreverence, respect and desire to stay true to craft beer roots.’

→ Takeover news #2: Last month global brewing giant AB-InBev took over The Beer Hawk, a small UK online beer distribution company; now it’s bought a similar firm in France according to French website Beer Time. A strategy emerges? (Translation from French here; via @BryanDRoth.)

→ One for fans of historic details: Gary Gillman has found what he thinks is a previously un-mined source of information 18th century malting that illuminates how porter was made.

→ These struck us as twin pieces: Craft Beer & Brewing has produced a list of slang used by extreme beer geeks in the US, from beached whale to porch bomb; while, for Draft, Kate Bernot asks ‘Why Are Beer People so Outraged?’:

Will Gordon… sees beer as so central to some people’s lifestyles that they’re unable to tolerate opposing views.

“There is a peculiar, loud 1 percent of craft beer fans who are people with an absurd lifestyle that they want validated,” he says. “If you make fun of driving up a dirt road in Vermont at 7 in the morning to get a bottle of Hill Farmstead, what those people hear is their wife’s voice saying they should have gone to the kid’s soccer game that morning instead.”

Doorway to Lisbon beer bar.
SOURCE: The Beermack. (Cropped.)

→ Alex at The Beermack’s guide to ‘Good Beer in Lisbon (and where to find it)’ is (a) like a virtual city break in its own right and (b) potentially useful if you’re planning on visiting Portugal this summer.

→ Finally, via Beer Today, research firm Mintel has published new research into craft beer in Britain with some interesting nuggets to chew on:

What’s more, just one in four (24%) beer buyers are willing to spend more than £4 on a pint of craft beer in the on-trade and 21% are unprepared to even go above £3 per pint. On the other hand, there are a small number of consumers who clearly have strong beliefs in craft credentials as 5% of beer buyers are prepared to exceed £5 on a pint of craft beer.

→ in his budget on Wednesday the Chancellor, George Osborne, froze beer duty. Brigid Simmonds of the BBPA thinks it’s good news; others (to summarise chatter on Twitter) think it largely inconsequential, at least from the perspective of consumers. This is an interesting thought, though:

→ And, finally, this from Gavin Hutsby is nice:

10 thoughts on “News, Nuggets & Longreads 19 March 2016”

  1. Thanks guys for the shoutout (speaking of North American slang!). The beer nerd terms are of diverse origin. Noob is drawn from newbie, so not specific to beer culture, but an enduring term in many contexts here. Bottle bomb is old homebrewer lingo, from 70s or even earlier. The cradle for the Belgian beer service is a good example of the early influence of Jackson’s and others’ books on Belgian beer. These devices were pictured in many of these. I’d guess the cradle only make a rare appearance in Belgium itself, but it’s part of American craft culture now.

    Now why cart? Because the cradle has the shape of the iconic American go-kart. There has been a revival of go-karting in certain quarters.

    A crusher is pre-craft lingo that has acquired a new life. In the old days, very light aluminum was used to can adjunct lager, which was 4.7% abv , or 4% if literally light, or surviving “3.2” beer. On the beaches or picnics, guys would crush them with their hands as a joke. “That’s a crusher, man”. 🙂

    A term I’ve heard here could be added to the lexicon: “fun beer”. A fun beer is one that is interesting for a variety of reasons, e.g., the taste, the look, or the people behind it. It’s really a synonym for interesting. “Hey they keep changing the label of that one, it’s a fun beer”. Or, “I just brought this back from England, Robert Plant’s son makes it, it’s a fun beer”.

    Sometimes old slang is best. I’m awaiting for “boss beer” to come back from 50s and earlier. “That beer’s boss, it’s called Anchor Steam, it’s dark and bitter and goes way back”.

    Or kegger for a beer party where draft beer is served. “Tim threw a kegger like you wouldn’t believe, when I left there were socks and things in the tree branches, no joke”.

    “No way, I never see him out of the library!”.

    “I know, but those engineer types can surprise you”.

    Gary

    1. the basket or vessel used to cradle and pour sour beers, lambics, etc

      Certainly never seen this in Belgium, although I’ve only been a couple of times.

        1. The only time we can think we’ve seen it is with bottles of aged Kriek at Kulminator in Antwerp. Is it used when there’s an expectation you’ll be shared the bottling and/or making multiple pours?

  2. Actually, I think go-kart may not be the origin for the cart to describe the beer serving cradle or basket, or at most it may have an indirect influence. I was thinking really of soapbox, the non-motorized rolling cart which became popular from the 1930s. Wooden boxes to ship soap were adapted for this – you knocked out one end and the top and put wheels on – and early examples had their oblongish shape. But why isn’t the beer basket called soapbox then? Maybe to avoid the unfortunate apposition of soap and beer…

    So either it was called cart because go-karts are kind of today’s soapbox and to avoid the soap reference, or, the cradle for the bottle reminded some of a miniature grocery cart, since the woven straw looks a bit like the wiry metal construction of a grocery cart. Also, little metal grocery carts were used to serve french fries, still are, and this started in California I believe. Your Father’s Office in Santa Monica, a craft beer bar, had them 20 years ago…

    Gary

  3. I don’t get the beerhawk acquisition, what are ab inbev actually buying ? Contracts to supply (presumably time limited), customer database (something people can opt out of), some knowledgable buyers ( who can leave ).

    Buying a brewery makes sense – acquiring recipies, loyal customers, reputation.

    What is worth buying in a distributor which can’t walk away ?

    Unless they didn’t pay very much money – I can’t see the point in an acquisition like this.

    Happy to be enlightened !

    Alex

  4. I am prepared to pay £5+ a pint, with one proviso: the beer had better be worth £5+ a pint. Sadly, I find it very rarely is.

  5. From the ‘outrage’ post:

    “I have a very different relationship with craft beer as a product than other goods,” says Bill DeBaun, one of the editors of DCBeer.com and the author of a sometimes snarky personal Twitter account, @dcbeerbill. “I don’t tweet like this about ketchup. I haven’t spent one-hundredth the time with any other kind of product that I have with craft beer. It’s not just going home to a six-pack in the fridge; a lot of my social life is tied up in this product. People understand that ketchup is a business, but do not want to accept that beer is a business. And I’m guilty of that, too.”

    ‘Product’.

    ‘Business’.

    Craft beer.

  6. I think the new startegy of InBev to buy whosellers and suppliers is way more dangerous than any other craft brewery buyings.

    Unfortunately, If a lot of people care about the independancy of the business, most of the French people will keep buying beer through Interdrinks. Even more because, they are going to have more communication budget, a better logistic and also access to a lot of premium product now (Goose Island etc..).

    In my opinion, this is the time for proper craft breweries to react. This world needs to forget the ‘craft’ term which does not mean anything nowadays. The independancy is the key and actually, the EU – here another reason for UK to stay in – already have a juridic term which is ‘Small Independant Breweries’. It is currently a fiscal law from EU but I am sure it is a huge starting point for ‘craft beer’ in EU.

    Buy Independant, don’t buy craft !

    Thanks for quoting HBT, it is a priveleage as I see you as one of the best blogging example. If you need any information about the French market, email me or we can have a chat somewhere as I live in London.

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