News, Nuggets & Longreads 23 April 2016 — Takeovers, Spruce, Helles

Here’s what’s grabbed our attention in beer news and writing in the last week, from spruce beer to brewery takeovers, via brewery takeovers and, er, more brewery takeovers…

→ Let’s get AB-InBev’s acquisition spree out of the way first: Italian website Cronache di Birra broke the news yesterday that the global giant as acquired Birra del Borgo. Here’s the most incisive commentary so far:

→ Related: remember when we pondered what it must feel like to sell your brewery? Well, we’ve now been treated to two substantial pieces in which the founders of breweries absorbed by AB-InBev reflect on the experience. First, Jasper Cuppaidge of Camden Town was interviewed by Susannah Butter for the Evening Standard, perhaps expressing more insecurity than he intended or realised:

“Everyone has their opinions. We’re more craft than ever because that gives us the ability to brew more beer ourselves. The beer tastes as good as last week, if not better. Some people want to remain independent but it’s like, Mike there wears Converse, I like Vans. Everyone has their cool thing.”


→ And speaking to Jason Notte for Market Watch, John Hall and his son Greg, of Goose Island, think back to 2011 and the first of the big craft takeovers:

Back in 2011, we were made a lot of promises, and they pretty much all came true. That’s on the good-news side. I think if you look at the other brands that have come on board, it’s been pretty much a rosy story as well. It may be the same for Ballast Point and Lagunitas. There are a lot of synergies that you have with a big beverage company that you can’t do as a really, really small, independent beverage company.

(Via Jon Urch @ClassDrinking.)

→ Innis & Gunn announced their acquisition of Inveralmond Brewery last week; now we have some decent commentary from Richard ‘Beercast’ Taylor:

I think the other reason why this will be a success for Innis & Gunn is that they can finally rally behind an identity. They… are as much a brand about Hunter wellies and Springer Spaniels as they are about the West End of Edinburgh and Harvey Nicks. The acquisition is a chance to re-brand themselves into something that finally makes sense; barrel-ageing, the great outdoors, Scotland’s larder etc – rather than the open non-secret Glaswegian brewery, Edinburgh offices.

→ A last bit of business news: BrewDog’s latest crowd-funding drive either (a) fell far short of its target or (b) achieved an awesome 80 per cent of its target, depending on how warm you feel towards the Scottish brewery.

Danzig dockside with beer barrels.

→ Martyn ‘Zythophile’ Cornell has produced a two-part epic on the history of spruce beer, The Danzig Connection and The North American Connection:

There are actually two traditions of spruce beer in Britain: the older, the Danzig or Black Beer tradition, only died out very recently, while the other, which could be called the “North American tradition”, was hugely popular in Regency times, and included Jane Austen among its fans, but disappeared nearly 200 years ago on this side of the Atlantic.

→ For All Abour Beer Randy Mosher, author of everyone’s favourite home brewing book Radical Brewing, considers the various ways in which we drink with our eyes:

There is a lot of mumbo-jumbo out there about wine and beer glasses, and whatever physics and physiology might ultimately prove, one thing is certain: presented with the same drink in two different glasses, the glass perceived as more “special” will definitely cause people to take notice and extract more pleasure from its contents.

(Published 1 March but, we think, only just made available online.)

Two glasses of beer.

→ Methodical German home brewer Andreas Krenmair has nailed the perfect Munich Helles, he reckons, and shares the secrets, e.g.:

For the colour, I’d say it’s most definitely the grist that’s responsible for that. 100% Pilsner malt was a tiny bit too pale, small amount of Munich and/or Melanoidin malt made the beer a tiny bit too brown. Two per cent CaraHell really seems to do the trick.