American beers News

News, Nuggets & Longreads 4 February 2017: Lexicography, St Louis, Ateliers

Here’s all the beer and pub writing that grabbed our attention in the past seven days from different ways to say you’re bladdered to mysteries of the American palate.

First, for the BBC’s culture pages, lexicographer and broadcaster Susie Dent considers the 3,000 words in the English language to describe being drunk:

The concoctions those knights dispensed fill an even richer lexicon, veering from the euphemistic ‘tiger’s milk’ to the blatant invitation of ‘strip-me-naked’. Add those to the 3,000 words English currently holds for the state of being drunk (including ‘ramsquaddled’, ‘obfusticated’, ‘tight as a tick’, and the curious ‘been too free with Sir Richard’) and you’ll find that the only subjects that fill the pages of English slang more are money and sex.

(But has she quite got that bit on Bride-ale right?)

Barmen pouring IPAs.
SOURCE: Jeff Alworth/Beervana

These next two posts need to be read as one piece. First, Jeff Alworth argues — persuasively, we think — that the reason IPAs are so dominant in US craft beer is because it’s the first beer style Americans can really call their own, like jazz and comic books:

Americans are finding their palates, which is a sign of maturity. This is not a new point here at the blog, but it’s becoming more pointed. When a country develops its own beer culture, diversity declines. This is why Belgian and British ales don’t taste the same, nor Czech and German lagers. Americans have found their groove, and it is lined with the residue of sticky yellow lupulin.

But that prompted a typically gentlemanly riposte from Stan Hieronymus who points out that where he lives, in St Louis, IPAs are by no means the be-all-and-end-all:

Heavy Riff can only display half of its draft menu at a time, but yesterday there were 15 beers on tap. There was one IPA (cloudy and New England style, in fact), a hop-forward pale ale (also East Coast style) and a session wheat beer flush with New World hops. The other 12 (80 percent of the choices) included its flagship American brown, with with roasted oats and lactose, a porter, a stout, Belgian-inspired beers, an Irish Red, a British pale, and more. Kind of a United Nations of beer.

Pub window with 'Saloon Bar' and drawn curtains.

Jim at Beers Manchester has been reflecting on the downside of getting ‘in’ with the crowd at your local pub:

[One] evening after a match, I was asked if I’d like to stay behind and have a beer with the staff and landlord after closing… What followed was the most vile stream of racist language and general prejudice that I had ever heard. It seemed that the simple fact that I was there, in that pub, meant that I was ‘one of them’ and therefore must have shared their opinions and way of thinking.

Close up on the foam of the beer.

A technical one next: Ed Wray has shared his attempt to synthesise current knowledge of and thinking around Brettanomyces. It’s not exactly a chuckle a minute but it is the clearest learned explanation we’ve yet seen of what ‘Brett’ is all about and one we’ll no doubt be referring to frequently in future. Give it a read, sure, but you might also want to bookmark it.

Out of shot, two Action Man dolls and a teddy bear, AKA 'the lads'.

Malcolm Nicholls has been commenting here and on Twitter for some time but now has his own blog. After a bit of prompting from us he has now started recording his recollections of working at Cameron’s of Hartlepool in the 1980s:

Cameron’s highest turnover managed house was Oscar’s, somewhat confusingly described as ‘Hartlepool’s first wine bar’ as it got through 90 barrels (that’s brewers’ barrels) per week… Unfortunately the locals did not take to Hansa, their locally brewed lager, in great numbers; hence Oscar’s shifted two pallets of bottled Carling every seven days.

Chart by Michael Lally.
SOURCE: Michael Lally/Bushcraft Beer

Michael Lally at Bushcraft Beer is on a run of form at the moment dropping thought-provoking ideas with some regularity. This week he has mapped some UK breweries against a ‘growth matrix’ used in business analysis:

If we start in the bottom left, I’ve dubbed this group the Ateliers. This is breweries that are relatively small in scale and with a low growth profile. The archetype Atelier for me is The Kernel Brewery. I’ve interviewed Evin from The Kernel in a previous podcast and he makes it clear he believes the brewery could be capable of growing to be 15-20 times the size but is happy with the current size of the brewery, the quality of the beers they are making and the conversations he can have with his customers.

Tuatara logo.
SOURCE: Tuatara website.

Brewery takeover news: New Zealand’s Tuatara has been taken over by local giant DB, which is in turn owned by Heineken. There’s commentary here by Jono Galuszka:

“About bloody time.”… Those were the first three words out of my mouth when I saw craft brewer Tuatara had been sold to Heineken-owned DB… The Paraparaumu company has been linked to all three of New Zealand’s big brewing companies – Lion, DB and Independent Liquor – for years, and was always going to be an attractive buy after winning champion New Zealand brewery in 2016.

Screenshot of the October website.
SOURCE: Good Beer Hunting/October.

AB-InBev watching: Back in November we wondered whether AB-InBev might get into publishing as part of their craft beer strategy. Sure enough, through an investment vehicle, ZX Ventures, they are now co-funding October, a beer magazine whose content will be managed by popular US blog-cum-marketing-agency Good Beer Hunting. There are undoubtedly all sorts of concerns around transparency and ethics when breweries and retailers fund commentary on their own sector (see also Dogfish Head’s Pallet magazine and Ferment in the UK) but this is interesting not so much as a behind-the-scenes story about beer writing but because it’s a glimpse into the workings of big beer.

And, finally, from Twitter, there’s this lovely photo from Bexley Archives, with charabanc, accordion, and some splendid suits:

2 replies on “News, Nuggets & Longreads 4 February 2017: Lexicography, St Louis, Ateliers”

There’s currently no link for the bushcraft beer article.
Also if you haven’t read it yet. Part one of Chris Halls Mainspring Blog post was excellent this week. I’m eagerly awaiting part two.

I can’t imagine taking much interest in October but it does point to the odd divide which might tie a bit to age. There is that response, the mere assertion that the author’s or publisher’s standards are not compromised that is so weird. The standards might have never been in another state, if you think about it.
The in-trade sponsorships, partnerships, junkets and the rest inevitably deter folk from writing in a way that is less that praising, fawning even. But you also have to ask yourself whether these folk were ever going to be interested or even capable of putting together something that’s balanced, critical and, yes, more interesting.

Pretty and promotional writing is not a bad thing in itself. The beer world has turned on branding as far as I can see for around two hundred years and a bit, since branding as branding began. Someone will write better text at that level and someone will pay for it. I think it’s a problem to confuse payment with quality or at least authority. But that is no different than in any other field.

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