News, Nuggets & Longreads 12 November 2016: Mexico, Manchester & Mad Science

Detail from the cover of Gambrinus Waltz.

Before we get into the links a quick heads-up: Gambrinus Waltz, our short e-book about how lager came to London in the 19th Century, is free this weekend for Amazon Kindle (UK | US | Germany | Canada). At this stage, we just really want people to read it. We’ll be removing it from sale very shortly, too, because we have some other plans for it, so grab it and get stuck in if you haven’t already!

Right. Back to business as usual, or as near as we can get in a week when the whole world seems a bit angry and/or confused, on which subject, just to warm up, here’s news of how fear of Donald Trump’s Mexico-US border wall has already hit the beer industry from John Kell at Fortune:

Rob Sands, CEO of alcoholic beverage giant Constellation Brands, came to New York City on Wednesday to talk about Corona beer and Robert Mondavi wine. And before he even took the stage, the company’s stock took an 8% nosedive… That’s because investors are worried about what Donald Trump’s victory could mean for… [the] owner of a Mexican brewer that targets an American customer base that could potentially face deportation.

(Via @agoodbeerblog who also has some additional historical commentary here.)

Manchester montage.

For Good Beer Hunting Matt Curtis provides an outsider’s eye view of the Manchester beer scene aimed primarily at a US audience but probably useful for anyone who doesn’t know the city:

You wouldn’t think that a small piece of plastic could completely divide opinion between a nation’s beer lovers. You’d be wrong. A sparkler is a small plastic nozzle that attaches to the end of the swan-neck spout on the hand-operated pump that pulls beer from a cask. It nebulizes the naturally occurring CO2 in the beer, aerating the liquid as it’s squeezed through the holes in the nozzle. This produces smaller bubbles and, when poured correctly with the swan neck in the very bottom of the glass as the beer is pulled, will produce a frothy head of tight, creamy foam.

(Matt has received a fair bit of often mean-spirited criticism over the last couple of years but here’s why we like this piece: he heard complaints that UK beer writing is London-centric and got on a train; he has made an effort to explore both trad and trendy; he has included a range of voices and perspectives; and, in a killer last paragraph, has addressed the question of price/value. Not bloody bad for a little over 2,000 words.)

Many beers piled up on a table.

Bryan Roth has a profile of Ken Weaver who ploughs through two or three different beers every day writing reviews for All About Beer. (Disclosure: we sell the odd article to ABB too.) The description of his working practices, though they sound quite reasonable to us, might have some gnashing their teeth, or at least turning green with envy:

At most, Weaver writes 500 words reviewing a single beer for Rare Beer Club, but most often will write about 50, giving five to 10 minutes for each of the two or three different beers he’ll try each day of work. The catch? He drinks three or four ounces of most bottles or cans that come his way, a blasphemous treason to beer nerds who might decry the lost remnants of Russian River, Funky Buddha, Omnipollo or Other Half beers.

“Our sink is the biggest drinker in the household,” Weaver joked.

Illustration: mad science.
SOURCE: Pam Wishbow/Eater.

For Eater Kyle Frischkorn writes about efforts at the University of Leuven in Belgium to reverse engineer Belgian beer yeasts with a view to creating better ones:

Armed with his findings about the inner workings of beer yeast, [Dr Kevin] Verstrepen wondered if he could push the envelope a bit further. For example, Trappist brewers trying to make the traditional, malty toffee taste of a dubbel beer are saddled with the yeast they’ve been using for centuries: Because yeast helps impart flavors that beer drinkers expect, brewers have no choice but to keep using the same strains. They can’t swap in a faster, more efficiently fermenting yeast without sacrificing characteristic, beloved flavors. Verstrepen thinks he might be able to swap the genes instead, and achieve the desired compromise. Enter Frankenbrew.

Summer Bright Lager with Mango (marketing image).

This is a nice format for reviewing and pondering upon a beer from Beer Is Your Friend: ‘Five Things About… Summer Bright Lager With Mango’. This line in particular rings out like a bell:

I call myself a ‘beer geek’ not a ‘craft beer geek’, which means I have an interest in all beer, not just the ones with a hop profile.

Finally, there’s this, which is just the kind of thing we love having Tweeted at us:

3 replies on “News, Nuggets & Longreads 12 November 2016: Mexico, Manchester & Mad Science”

That Matt Curtis piece isn’t bad, exactly, but it’s not great. The way he writes about 1997 as if it was the dim and distant past set my teeth on edge – maybe London had the first British craft breweries, maybe it was Marble, who knows? (There are still people around who you could ask – people have even written books about this stuff…) Then there are the plugs for a tiny handful of pubs and breweries (letting Mike Marcus slag off CAMRA one more time along the way) and this weird idea that Marble are the only brewery in the ‘traditional but innovative’ space; I think plenty of other breweries qualify, Blackjack to name but one (and Matt drank in the Blackjack tap, so he must know they exist). He gets points for referring to the Sparkler Wars, though!

I don’t know. I don’t have to agree with Matt to enjoy reading his stuff. Rocking the boat is good. I got similar grief for different reasons: suggesting that one shouldn’t be a fanboy of manufactured scarcity in 2010; got myself compared to a Nazi for pointing out masses of errors in 2011; and even got an early viewing of the hairy whackjob’s vague nonsense aimed my way in 2009. Even if our views are not the same, having an unsettling effect is a sign of something worth saying.

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