This week we’ve been reading blog posts and articles about historic beer from Carlsberg, home-made malt, flavour perception and more.
→ For Lucky Peach Harold McGee writes at length about how we really taste things. It’s not specifically about beer but there’s plenty that applies, e.g. this section on balance:
Plainly, this means that if you really want people to experience something in particular, you actually don’t want to have a lot of other stuff going on at the same time. If you have a very simple combination of tastes or smells, then you perceive those tastes and smells clearly. If you complicate the situation by adding more tastes or more smells, then your perception of the prior, already-there tastes and smells is diminished because now you’ve got something else to pay attention to. If you want to emphasize tartness, then you don’t add salt or sugar, except if you want to balance it, in which case you are intentionally dampening down its perception.
→ Martyn Cornell has been hanging out at in Copenhagen and reports on Carlsberg’s historic beer project (UPDATE 11/05/2016 — link temporarily removed as the post has been taken down):
The plan is to to replicate as far as possible the first beer made that followed the precepts [Emil Christian] Hansen developed at the laboratory [at Carlsberg]. Hansen, for those who don’t know, pioneered single-yeast-strain brewing, isolating from the mass of different varieties of yeast present in an old-style brew just the one that made the best beer and cultivating this pure strain up: and Carlsberg, instead of sitting on this technology, threw over any competitive advantage it might have gained, and gave it away to any brewer who wanted it…
→ Takeover news: beer importer and distributor James Clay has acquired the wholesale arm of London’s Utobeer. The latter will continue to run its bars (The Rake, Tap East) and the shop at Borough Market. As another UK beer retailer, Zak Avery, put it in a Tweet: ‘Consolidation ahoy!’
→ What’s the opposite of takeover news? Max ‘Pivni Filosof’ Bahnson tells us that Pilsner Urquell, the brand and brewery, is back on the market after being divested by AB-InBev:
This shouldn’t surprise anyone, really. The ageing Central and Eastern European markets are stagnant at best, and, save a couple of exceptions, there aren’t brands with any value outside their respective backyards—‘I really fancy a glass of that famous, generic Hungarian Lager,’ said no one ever. It’s the developing countries the Brazilians are after, which still have massive potential for growth.
→ Luke Robertson at Ale of a Time has crunched some numbers to test the accusation that craft beer is generally too high in alcohol:
[Even] if the number came out too high by whatever arbitrary benchmark you or I may set, what I was looking at was a list of 150 different Australian beers on the shelf that, for the most part, are independently owned and range from 3.5% to 11%.
→ Jeff Alworth has, to paraphrase his own words, dusted off an old manifesto, which makes pretty good sense:
Buy local, buy good, drink on tap. Do these things, and good beer will continue to be brewed in your neighborhood. After all, isn’t that’s what we’re really after?
→ Not many words but lots of pictures: Ed’s had a go at malting his own barley:
As a brewer and microbiologist I have felt a certain smugness when contemplating the zombie apocalypse. Though civilisation may have collapsed around me, I’m sure with minimal equipment I could make my own beer. But once I’d thought it through a bit more a cold feeling of dread came upon me. Where will the malt come from?
→ And, finally, this cryptic Tweet from Adrian Tierney-Jones made us shudder with fear and anticipation…
just had an email with a headline I never thought in my wildest dreams I would receive: ‘Watneys is back!’
— Adrian Tierney-Jones (@ATJbeer) May 6, 2016