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News, Nuggets & Longreads 17 February 2018: Koduõlu, Tmavé Pivo, Buck’s Fizz

Here’s everything that grabbed us in the world of beer and pubs in the past week, from inclusion to IKEA.

Before we start, though, here’s a reminder that other links round-ups are available: Stan Hieronymus posts every Monday (latest) and Alan McLeod has nabbed Thursday. Do take a look if our list below leaves you hungry for more.

Illustration: "Odd One Out".

First up, for Gal-Dem magazine Alexandra Sewell (@wehavelalex) has written about her experience of the British beer scene as a black woman, and explored the possible reasons more black women might not be involved:

Alcohol was never a feature in our family household. My British-born Jamaican mum never kept lowly bottles of brandy hidden in the kitchen cupboards and we weren’t accustomed to anything more than a non-alcoholic “Buck’s Fizz” at Christmas time. As a small kid, Sundays were for church. As a bigger kid, I was too preoccupied with school. And as far as I was concerned, alcohol was something that was out of sight, and therefore entirely out of mind. I knew of it; I knew other people that liked it and drank it, but the only education I had about such a big part of the culture I was born into was from those borderline hilarious Channel 4 documentaries about people binge-drinking and puking up onto the street.

A glass of milky farmhouse ale.

Lars Marius Garshol continues to explore the strange galaxy of farmhouse ales on the outer rim of Europe, this time landing in Estonia:

Koduõlu is one of the few farmhouse styles that you can actually buy right now, thanks to the commercial brewery Pihtla Õlleköök, in the village of Pihtla on Saaremaa island…. What surprised me was that it never seemed to be the same beer twice. That is, you can recognize the beer when you taste it, but major components of the flavour seem to be different each time. Which is perhaps the way it should be for a true farmhouse ale…. As for the beer itself, the head is white, and the body is always a milky opaque yellow. This is typical of raw ale, because all the protein is still in the beer.

U Fleku sign, 2008.

Also on the subject of niche beer styles here’s Evan Rail writing for VinePair about Czech dark lager:

For those of us who love Czech pub culture, tmavé pivo has long been something of a local secret. The style wasn’t even listed in the guidelines of the Beer Judge Certification Program, a set of style descriptions for homebrewers and pro brewers alike, until a revision in 2014…. When I stop by U Supa to ask [Ivan] Chramosil for a basic tmavé pivo recipe, he spells out the answer like it should be obvious: about 50 percent Pilsner malt, between 30 and 40 percent Munich malt, up to 15 percent of a caramel malt like CaraMunich, and at most 5 percent of a very dark malt like Weyermann’s Carafa II Special.

Detail from the cover of 'Sussex Pubs', Batsford books.

At Look at Brew one of our favourite bloggers, Rach Smith, has drawn some conclusions after several years of reflection on the state of beer in her native Sussex:

These posts have been slow and steady, I’ve sat back somewhat in a bid to see just what’s going on, but the pace hasn’t slowed, in fact the scene has just about exploded and it’s been hard to keep up with it at times…. The county has lost some pubs and breweries too. In fact, the highlights of bottled and cask beers that appeared at the start of this series now contain redundant info. Naked Beer Co, Turners, Hastings and King Beer are no longer with us.

Illustration: beer bottles.

This piece about the various sizes of beer can and bottle by Phil Edwards at Oh Good Ale has almost the quality of poetry but it also making a point which we think we understand…

440 ml cans, I mean we’ve all seen those, we know about those, but for me it comes back to the same thing, the same question: have you seen some of the stuff they’re putting in them these days? Have you seen how strong it is? Ten per cent! Twelve per cent! Twelve per cent alcohol in a 440 ml can – I tell you, you’re not going to pile into a few of those on the train, are you? That’s like a pint at nine per cent – all in a nice handy can! Putting all that booze in a can, it’s ridiculous. Why would you want that? Pointless.

Otley brewery publicity photo.

A bit of brewery closure news: Welsh brewery Otley, which got into trouble and changed hands back in 2016, has unexpectedly shut its doors, possibly for the last time, according to Wales Online. It sounds like a strange situation:

It was sold by its founder Nick Otley in February 2017 to a firm he understood to be called All Beer Company Ltd…. However, Companies House records indicate no evidence of a company of that name. A firm called All Beer Ltd was dissolved in January 2016, and was based in Sheffield…. In the months following the Otley sale, brewery staff said they received no contact from their new owners, and were never introduced.

(Via @kmflett/@canIgetaP.)

Finally, there’s this sign of the times — a fake craft beer shop forming part of the shop display at a branch of IKEA:

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3 replies on “News, Nuggets & Longreads 17 February 2018: Koduõlu, Tmavé Pivo, Buck’s Fizz”

I’m surprised nobody has written much about Czech dark lager before. I’ve not been to Prague since the early 90s, but every place we went to then served at least one dark beer, and as mentioned, that’s ALL U Fleku served – and it’s a really interesting beer, too.
Time to go back. 😉

And I also meant to say something about the loss of Otley. Very sad indeed, some excellent beers. Perhaps rather bizarrely, I first found their beers at a small agricultural show in the Black Mountains. Since then, I’ve made a point of drinking their beers whenever possible. Terrible shame.

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