News, Nuggets & Longreads 3 March 2018: Norway, Nitrogen, Nanas

A former pub in Sheffield.

Here’s all the news and comment that grabbed our attention in the past week, from keg dispense to Rwandan banana beer.

First, Will Hawkes, who you can trust to make a sto­ry about keg beer dis­pense for Imbibe inter­est­ing:

Keg beer dis­pense qual­i­ty is not often talked about in the UK, at least in con­trast to the per­pet­u­al hand-wring­ing that goes on with regard to cask ale. But it deserves to be a very big issue, because a huge num­ber of pubs and bars in the UK are not set up to serve craft keg beer in the best con­di­tion.… That’s because most keg dis­pense equip­ment in the UK has been designed to suit low-car­bon­a­tion, ster­ile-fil­tered big-name lager brands, which are rel­a­tive­ly easy to look after. But mod­ern craft beers come in a bewil­der­ing vari­ety and they need indi­vid­ual treat­ment, be that a high­er tem­per­a­ture of serve or a dif­fer­ent gas mix.

For Orig­i­nal Grav­i­ty Jes­si­ca Mason pro­vides a dif­fi­cult, emo­tion­al­ly intense read about her fam­i­ly and father, ‘the worst man I had ever met in my entire life’, anchored around the pub:

I knew I had mere hours with a man I didn’t know. But with a hun­dred ques­tions in my head none of which could be answered by some­one intent on impress­ing me, I would need to put my ques­tions aside and make him feel at ease enough to remove his veneer. But how would I do that? Strange­ly enough, I did know. I need­ed just two sim­ple props: a pub table and some beer.

Norway in the snow.
SOURCE: Good Beer Hunt­ing

This piece about Nor­we­gian home-brew­ers by Jon­ny Gar­rett for Good Beer Hunt­ing is packed with love­ly pho­tographs, inter­est­ing inci­dents and engag­ing char­ac­ters:

Reines and I are shar­ing a qui­et moment at the after-par­ty of the town’s home­brew com­pe­ti­tion and fes­ti­val, which he orga­nizes. Things are get­ting a lit­tle philo­soph­i­cal because, well, we’ve been drink­ing since lunchtime. We’ve just spent a half hour kneel­ing on the floor in front of his new sound sys­tem, lis­ten­ing to Nordic heavy met­al at a vol­ume I was sure would echo across the fjords and all the way back to my home in Eng­land.

Our favourite thing? Fritz the buck­et. (Odd­ly mis­named Franz in the text.)

Edwardian advertisement for Edelweiss beer: top hatted man points at beer with his diamond-topped cane.

Katie at The Snap and the Hiss has fur­ther thoughts on the afford­abil­i­ty and desir­abil­i­ty of craft beer, and the swirling tides of aspi­ra­tion and mar­ket­ing that sur­round it:

I am ful­ly aware and appre­cia­tive of the costs involved in cre­at­ing beer and I am in no doubt that prices are fair (for the most part). I just know that I’m not flush enough. So what am I sug­gest­ing here? That brew­eries should make no-frills beer for us poor peo­ple too? That there should be a pay-it-for­ward scheme involved? No, of course not. I’m just high­light­ing the fact that keep­ing up with trends in craft beer is exclu­sion­ary in it’s nature and there should be some aware­ness of this. Not every­body can take part. This doesn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly mean that the peo­ple who can’t or don’t take part are any less enthu­si­as­tic about beer than the peo­ple col­lect­ing new cans like Poké­mon cards.

Sighing bar staff.

There’s been a fair bit of news on the sex­ism-in-beer front this week:

  1. SIBA has announced its inten­tion to move for­ward with plans for a code of prac­tice for (or rather against) offen­sive beer mar­ket­ing.
  2. The Port­man Group held a focus group about sex­ist beer pack­ag­ing this week as part of review­ing its guid­ance.
  3. Amer­i­can brew­ery Stone dropped a bizarre, awful social media clanger with what seemed to be a joke about sex­u­al con­sent. This sto­ry con­tin­ues to devel­op.
  4. Jeff Alworth has been run­ning a series of posts on this sub­ject with input from var­i­ous women in the indus­try, our favourite of which is the con­clu­sion: ‘What You Can Do’.
  5. Nic­ci Peet, a Bris­tol-based pho­tog­ra­ph­er spe­cial­is­ing in beer-relat­ed sub­jects, has launched a project to doc­u­ment women in the UK beer indus­try you can find out more and sup­port her work at Patre­on.

Beer being poured, from an old advertisement.

Brew­ers! You will want to get your hands on the new e-book by Andreas Kren­mairHis­toric Ger­man and Aus­tri­an Beers for the Home Brew­er. He’s under­tak­en lots of painstak­ing research to come up with recipes for every­thing from Dreher-style Vien­na lager to Mannheimer Braun­bier. We bought a copy and have already found lots to chew on even though we don’t have any imme­di­ate plans to brew.


Here’s some­thing a bit dif­fer­ent: from the BBC World Ser­vice pro­gramme Out­look, some audio, on the sub­ject of  Rwan­dan ‘banana beer’. Chris­tine Mureb­wayire grew up in a fam­i­ly of banana beer brew­ers and then, many years lat­er, used it to drag her fam­i­ly out of pover­ty:

A lot of peo­ple like to drink banana beer but some edu­cat­ed, smart peo­ple feel uncom­fort­able drink­ing it because it’s not a very sophis­ti­cat­ed drink. So I thought, if I could make a smarter drink to drink on social occa­sions, it will appeal to a big­ger mar­ket.…”

(We think you should be able to lis­ten to this world­wide; apolo­gies if not.)

This week we’ll fin­ish not with a Tweet as usu­al but with a film trail­er: Walk Like a Pan­ther is a real sign of the times – a Full Mon­ty style com­e­dy about a com­mu­ni­ty band­ing togeth­er to save the local pub from clo­sure.

2 thoughts on “News, Nuggets & Longreads 3 March 2018: Norway, Nitrogen, Nanas”

  1. Worth it for the Will Hawkes arti­cle alone. Dis­pense is para­mount. No point of get­ting the beer right if dis­pense is wrong. Applies just as much to keg as cask. Oth­er­wise you have keg beer taint­ed by car­bon­ic bite and worse. That, sad­ly and to some extent, is why new keg, despite bet­ter ingre­di­ents can be almost as bad as old keg.

    Dis­pense is wrong­ly thought as a giv­en with keg. It rarely is. Same with shelf life, but that’s a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent sto­ry!

    1. I learnt that one about keg when I did a piece on Stel­la qual­i­ty for the MA back in 2004, thought keg could be left alone to get on with it, bit of an eye open­er talk­ing to peo­ple.

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