Another hectic week for us — only one blog post! — but we have been keeping up with our reading. Here’s what grabbed us in the last week.
First, a big story that deserves some pondering: for the first time beer sold to drink at home has outsold that drunk in pubs and other licensed premises. Here’s the Morning Advertiser‘s report and there’s some commentary from Matt Curtis and Neville ‘Red Nev’ Grundy.
This year’s Cask Report has a new author, Sophie Atherton, who provides some personal commentary on her own relationship with cask beer on her blog:
I didn’t have the knowledge then that I have now, but I somehow knew you had to look after beer or it would spoil and, at worst, end up tasting like vinegar. A skilled publican knew how to care for beer and made sure it was only ever served tasting the way it should. But it seemed as though there must be a shortage of skilled publicans because wherever we went, in whatever town, we kept being served, flat, smelly and often vinegary cask beer. So I stopped drinking it.
For All About Beer Tom Acitelli recalls the moment 20 years ago when a key player in the nascent craft beer industry was ‘gotcha’d’ over contract brewing:
On Sunday evening, Oct. 13, 1996, the sonorously calm voice of Stone Phillips, a host of NBC’s Dateline, eased into around eight million American households: ‘When it comes to beer, you’ve never had more choices on tap.’
The words were all too true, given the decade’s growth in the number of American breweries, brewpubs and brands of beer. But Phillips had not come to praise the growth. Instead, the segment he was introducing ended up helping to bury it.
For Draft magazine Zach Fowle investigates how different the same beer made with hops from different farms can actually taste:
The first IPA, made with Cascades grown on Ruhstaller’s own farm in Dixon, California, featured a pleasantly floral, honeylike character. The second, grown in Sloughhouse, California, had an almost tangy citrus quality, like pulpy orange juice. Tropical fruit rind flavors characterized the Kuchinski Hop Ranch IPA, made with hops grown in Lake County, while the IPA designed with Orphan hops—what Maldonado calls the “commodity Cascades” grown in Oregon, Washington and Canada, and purchased in massive quantities by breweries like Sierra Nevada and Lagunitas—was even and herbal, like dried greens. Aroma, flavor, even the character and level of the bitterness were all discrete. It was like drinking four completely different beers.
(This also prompted some interesting talk on Twitter: UK brewers always tended to name the grower rather than hop variety in records before about 1970.)
We’ve been observing with interest the development of Manchester’s new-build community pub (terms and conditions apply). Tyson, not one to be bamboozled by hype, has had chance to check it out:
Basically it’s a narrow L-shaped room with the bar in the left corner with tables and chairs arranged in rows down the right next to the large glass windows. The soft toned colour scheme and plenty of natural light give it a fresh and airy feel. It’s not quite finished yet but I like it. And that’s not just because we had it to ourselves. It’s my kind of joint. It’s got a good vibe.
We love a good analogy so couldn’t resist Stan Hieronymus’s mapping of what’s going on in TV to the world of beer: there’s too much great stuff to actually find time to watch, ‘an artificial boom of investment as the internet TV land grab happens’ and ‘There will be a shake out’.
And, finally, a bit more news which will probably require a blog post later in the week to properly unpack: for the first time CAMRA has declared a canned beer to be ‘real ale’. As you might imagine, people are dismayed/delighted at this disastrous/progressive move which spells disaster/marks a new dawn for CAMRA.