News, Nuggets & Longreads 30 April 2016

These are all the blog posts and articles about beer and pubs that have particularly caught our eye in the last week, from double IPA to German craft beer.

→ We can’t resist a style-based taste-off and Chris and Emma at Crema’s Beer Odyssey have pitted all the big-name UK double IPAs against each other, as written up by Emma:

April has seen us drowning in double IPA. If you enjoy this style of strong, super hopped IPA then you’ve been spoiled for choice in the past few weeks. I’ve seen and heard a lot of beer nerds talking about which of them is ‘the best DIPA’. Of course this is what beer lovers are into – discussion and friendly argument about beer. But I am surprised that people are still talking about this in terms of absolutes, as if one beer has to be awarded the title of ‘The Best’ and all the others must therefore be ‘less good’ beers. As if there isn’t a place for variation of expression within a style; as if context is irrelevant.

Illustration of the George Inn, Southwark, from Our Rambles in London, 1895.

→ This arrived too late for last week’s round-up: Pete Brown now has evidence that Shakespeare’s Local was in fact… [drum roll]

→ For Beer Advocate Jason Patinkin writes about South Sudan’s first and only brewery, a source of local pride, that is closing down because of ongoing civil war. (Via @Beer_Writer.)

→ Jeff Allworth asks ‘What Makes a Good Pilsner?’ and, in answering his own question, comes up with this lovely summary:

It is often said that pilsners are the hardest beers to make because they don’t hide anything. I think that’s wrong. They’re the hardest beers to make because each of these elements [malt, hops, yeast] is subtle, and when you’re trying to make them sing in harmony, the slightest off note is immediately evident. They test a brewer because she must find a way to take three delicate elements and bring them together so that they wow a drinker. When it works, it looks like magic.

→ In a post sponsored by Longreads members Aaron Gilbraith considers whether the revival of his love affair with beer is bad for him, good for him, or neither:

[This] sort of worried thinking is part of our distinctly American problem… We see it as poison that’s healthy to avoid, yet we drink it at games and parties and dinner. So we binge, sober up, and wrestle with our urges and guilt, when more of us should be sipping responsibly like so many Europeans… Americans need to get over the idea that daily moderate drinking ─ meaning, a drink or two at night ─ is somehow unhealthy, or a sign of a mounting problem, and the health community needs to stop telling the public that seven drinks a week for women is healthy, but ten is excessive.

Chimay beer in a glass.

→ Gary Gillman spends a lot of time digging around in Google Books and in other online archives looking for nuggets of information. One of his jaunts he came across a French language source from 1877 with information on Chimay as it was a century and a half a go.

→ And, in German, via Barry Masterson (@BarMas), an interview with Michael Huber, MD of Veltins, which touches on questions of consolidation, the Reinheitsgebot and the evils of craft beer:

Können Sie sich vorstellen, einen Abend in der Kneipe bei Schokoladen-Bananen-Bier zu verbringen? Ich nicht.

[Can you imagine spending an evening in the pub on chocolate-banana beer? I can’t.]

German beer caps.

→ And from Barry himself there’s ‘The Reinheitsgebot: A Personal Voyage’. Barry is Irish but lives in a village in Germany and so often provides an insightful view of what’s going on with beer there outside the hip city centres:

It has now gotten to a stage where my 50-year-old neighbour turns around to me and says “I like that craft beer stuff. I’ve been buying all sorts of new beers to try. Have you tried this”? The older people at our Stammtisch are no stranger to my own beer creations, often featuring spruce tips, or eldar flowers, and although they sometimes mischievously ask if a given beer is Reinheitsgebot, I know full well they don’t give a shit if it is not, and they enjoy it for what it is.

→ Finally, here’s a worrying image from the hop fields of Slovenia: