We’re still snowed under working on The Big Project but we’ve found time to read a few interesting articles and blog posts in the last week.
First, the author of the Running Past blog profiles a South London landmark, The Northover, which was built in the 1930s, camouflaged during World War II, and made a brief appearance in The Long Good Friday. (Highly relevant to our current obsessions.)
Good Beer Hunting continues to sign up great writers to its team. The latest addition is Evan Rail who debuts with a portrait of an American brewer in the Czech Republic:
Despite the American approach, the name itself—which translates, roughly, to something like Brewery Zhůř-guy—is almost ridiculously Czech, containing not only the language’s almost-impossible-to-pronounce ‘ř,’ but also the bizarrely long ‘á,’ to say nothing of the ooh-sounding ‘ů.’ (Oh, and the ‘z’ and the “h’ in ‘Zhůřák’ are pronounced separately. Good luck with that.)
It’s difficult to get an interesting post out of a mass junket but not impossible as Richard Taylor demonstrates with his latest BeerCast post contrasting the tour brewery tour at Cantillon with that at La Trappe:
But the problem with Cantillon is that when you combine it with Twitter and Facebook, and become used to breweries communicating with their customers directly 24/7 you develop the worst possible affectation – a sense of entitlement. It doesn’t afflict me very often, but for some reason it did at Koningshoeven – I just expected the monks to be there, mashing in and pausing to answer questions in broken English…
For the Recipes Project Dr James Brown and Dr Angela McShane of the like-minded Intoxicants Project share an account of a discussion around the question ‘Were Early Modern People Perpetually Drunk?’ It’s a fascinating read with this section on the hearty, nutritious quality of very sweet beer a particular eye-opener:
Indeed, even had they had the technical means to achieve… high levels of fermentation, they would probably not have wanted to: in the more expensive beers, using a lot of malt, they were likely to have been pushing for ‘sweetness and body’ rather than maximum alcoholic strength, which could lead to thinness and an astringent taste.
At Beer and Present Danger Josh Farrington brings news of a brewing project based on machine learning:
Devised by machine learning firm Intelligent Layer and creative agency 10x, the process combines artificial intelligence with the wisdom of crowds, using it’s own algorithms and feedback from drinkers to constantly update, refine, and reiterate the four styles currently being made – a Pale, a Golden, an Amber and a Black. Just as early-adopters can beta-test an app, now you can help develop a beer, responding to an online bot’s questionnaire after each drink, allowing IntelligentX to bring out a newly refined generation each month.
Marketing gimmick, or the future? And will it create beers perfectly engineered to appeal to geeks, or blanded out brews that offend no-one?
Dave S is still struggling to answer a question that bugs him: which British bitters are most highly regarded by beer geeks? This time, he’s crunched some numbers from RateBeer to come up with a ranking.
And finally, another call for help from us: