For this final news and links round-up before Christmas we’ve got stories about CAMRA, Indian street food and historic pubs from around the beer blogs and beyond.
First, some very substantial reading, though not necessarily terribly entertaining — the Campaign for Real Ale’s Revitalisation Project has reported, with recommendations for how CAMRA can, might and should change:
There is no doubt that, on the market today, there exist some keg and other non-cask beers that are high-quality products – brewed with first-class ingredients, often matured over long periods, unfiltered and unpasteurised. In some cases, keg beer contains live yeast and is subject to secondary fermentation in the container. It is, to all intents and purposes, real ale up to the point that carbon dioxide pressure is applied in the cellar… Some of these products, by most measures, are far superior to some of the lower-quality, mass produced cask beer common in pubs – some of which, it is alleged, may be subject to very minimal, if any, secondary fermentation despite being marketed as real ale. Yet today, in accordance with its policies, CAMRA champions the latter over the former.
We’re still digesting it but, as we expected, it is a careful compromise designed to appeal to moderates on both sides of the keg/cask divide. Some will bridle at the suggestion that, even while permitting quality keg beer at festivals, CAMRA should make sure to communicate the inherent superiority of cask, but we get it. Cask is the jewel in the crown, the USP, the quirk that sets us apart.
From Manchester Kaleigh at The Ale in Kaleigh reports on the opening of a huge new branch of Indian-street-food-n-beer joint Bundobust. We were blown away by the original in Leeds when we visited last year but this report suggests Manchester may be better again:
Bundobust Manchester has 14 keg lines (although one is used for a cider), with their house beer Bombay Dazzler, a Wit made by Northern Monk, always on offer. There’s also a tap dedicated to one other Northern Monk beer and one for Magic Rock, showing that they haven’t lost touch with their Yorkshire roots, and one for Manchester favourite Cloudwater.
Stan Hieronymus has been pondering the term ‘Brewmaster’ which some brewers apply to themselves regardless of their experience or the extent of their reputation:
More than 3,000 breweries have opened in the United States in the past five years. Many of the brewers in charge of these new operations have professional experience that goes further back, but, dang, 3,000 newly minted brewmasters? Does that sound right?
Everyone is bored of talking about the definition of craft beer, right? Which is why we had our biggest day of traffic in weeks when we somewhat reluctantly returned to the subject on Wednesday. Anyway, our post prompted Dave S at Brew in a Bedsit to try a more logical approach, assigning points for ‘craftiness’ to give breweries an overall score:
I tested this out for a few obvious candidates, and got roughly the following scores, from least to most crafty:
Timothy Taylor: -9
The Kernel: +6
Wild Beer Co: +8 (ish)
Michael Lally at Bushcraft Beer gives us three items to chew on every Tuesday. This week, item one was highly thought-provoking: which breweries would you put into the four quadrants he proposes? Breweries which find themselves in the bottom left ought to be concerned: if people don’t like you and can’t get hold of your beer, it’s probably time to change something.
Attempting to summarise his research into Norwegian farmhouse brewing in digestible form Lars Marius Garshol has produced a map-laden post which is a good place to start exploring the deep, rich mine of content on his blog:
The big white area is an area where they boiled the wort. What was historically the biggest city and the main trade port of Norway, Bergen, is on the southwestern edge of that area. So it seems pretty likely that the practice of boiling the wort spread from there. The southern white area contains the other major city and port of Stavanger, so it might be a similar story there. What’s in between the two I’m not sure of.
One of our local Cornish breweries, Rebel Brewing Co of Penryn, has gone into administration, reports Darren Norbury at Beer Today. This is a surprise but makes some sense: they had always struggled to get their beer into pubs down here and didn’t really have the pizzaz to get into pubs up there. We were big fans of their 80 Shilling and, when it was on form, their big chocolate stout Mexicocoa, but found much of the rest of their range underwhelming. Anyway, another tremor that may or may not mean something. Watch this space.
And, finally, from The Gentle Author news of a successful campaign to save a pub of particular historic interest, The Still & Star, the last ‘slum pub’ in the City of London.