News, Nuggets & Longreads 09 April 2016: Sheep Dung, Italy, Scotland

Here’s all the reading about beer and pubs that’s made us sit up and take notice in the last week, from sheep dung beer to brewery takeovers.

→ It’s easy to scoff at the silly things silly craft beer sillies but in their silly beer but what if the novelty ingredients have a connection to regional traditional, like salted cod or malt smoked with sheep droppings? Knut Albert reports from Iceland and (spoiler alert) says, ‘the shit does not give any pronounced flavor’.

Food 52 has an interview with Rome-based food and drinks writer Katie Parla in which she reflects on why Italian craft beer is so expensive, and so exciting: ‘It’s one of the few facets of food or drinks culture here that is, by definition, creative.’ (And there’s a brief companion piece by Parla herself here.)

→ Brewery takeover news: Dutch brewery De Molen has sold a 35 per cent stake to big lager brewer Bavaria. Rick Kempen has one of the few accounts of the story in English we can find:

The shares come from several smaller founding shareholders: Menno and John jointly hold the majority of shares. This transaction means no directly invested money in the company but Bavaria has thus acquired the exclusive right of distribution of De Molen in the BeNeLux, and so a De Molen spring beer can be kept exclusively for Bavaria affiliated bars, for example… Furthermore, a growing brewer needs ‘more beer with the same quality’ also and so one must invest in kettles and tanks. This financial room has been created by selling the ‘Formido building’ and leasing it back… Menno and John stress they have not changed their ideals, and that the new shareholder has fully agreed that these will not be questioned.

(Via @katrinass.)

Innis & Gunn bottles.
SOURCE: Innis & Gunn website.

→ Meanwhile, in Scotland, Innis & Gunn — a succesful brand without its own brewery — has acquired Inveralmond for £3.1m. Is this indie-level merger behaviour something we’re likely to see more of in the next year or two?

→ For the Midlands Beer Blog Collective, Birmingham’s self-styled ‘Mediocre’ Dan Brown might appear to have blogged about blogging (practically a criminal offence) but actually, it’s about something else:

I still have the same beer love now, but I no longer convince myself that I’m numero uno; the bold beer pioneer of Birmingham… Mortality ever more keenly presses it’s meatless finger into my shoulders. You want it, you briefly have it, then you lose it. Having lost it, where do you go?

Drinking in Elizabethan England.

→ Those of you after really substantial reading will want to get hold of the 2012 special issue of the journal of the brewery history society which has just been made available for free, online. (Unfortunately, as a collection of PDFs, but still, it’s free.) Edited by booze-studies heavyweights Mark Hailwood and Deborah Toner it includes essays on ‘developments in the brewing, retail and consumption of alcohol in early modern England’, e.g. ‘The Citie Calls for Beere: the introduction of hops and the foundation of industrial brewing in early modern London’ (PDF) by Kristen Burton.

→ We’re trying to keep the list of links to opinion pieces on CAMRA’s Revitalisation project at the bottom of our post on the subject up to date as new ones emerge; we’ve added contributions from Tandleman and Martyn Cornell in the last couple of days.

→ And, finally, a reminder that British drinking in the 20th century wasn’t all about pints at the pub… (Via @TenInchWheels/@davyghost.)

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