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News, Nuggets & Longreads 13 October 2018: Pine, Pubs, Pilsner

Here’s everything in beer and pubs that grabbed our attention in the past seven days, from nostalgia to grapefruit IPA.

First, some mild melancholy: Becky at A Fledgling Blogger has been reflecting on the part being alone in the pub has played in the state of her psychology over the years:

As a student in Newcastle when times were hard (which they often were) I would head to The Carriage alone and stare into a pint until I felt that I could face the world again. I can’t say I always felt better after sitting in the pub alone for hours, but it made me feel like I was able to go home and talk to my friends. After all alcohol is a depressant but it also loosens the lips and it meant that I felt able to confide in my long-suffering flat mate who regularly dragged me out of my pit of despair.

Casks in a pub yard.

Jessica Mason AKA the Drinks Maven has joined the wave of discussion around cask ale that always follows publication of the Cask Report with observations on opportunities missed during the craft beer hype of the past half-decade:

This might have been the pivotal point where cask appreciators repositioned ale. Effectively, reminding how it is naturally flavoursome, freshly created and diverse in its myriad of varieties. All of this would have been compelling; as would flagging up the trend for probiotics and natural ingredients… But the vernacular surrounding cask ale lacked something else: sheer excitement.

Grapefruit from a 1953 US government publication.

Here’s an interesting question from Jeff Alworth: why do some beers take-off, get big, and inspire imitators? What is the secret formula?

What made Grapefruit Sculpin the avatar for citrus IPAs comes back to identity. Ballast Point was one of the OGs of the San Diego scene, and its flagship Sculpin was quintessentially West Coast, with a citrusy smack at the center of the fruity punch. Ballast was commanding obscene prices for its hoppy beers because everyone wanted them. They made other beer styles, but their identity rested on the IPAs that define San Diego. Grapefruit Sculpin took off because it was just so obvious and right for the brand. Other breweries had had some success with citrus IPAs, but under Ballast it went thermonuclear.

Pine scented.

A side note, but an intriguing one: Dr Clare Hickman, a medical and landscape historian, has written about the pine scent and why we associate it with freshness and cleanness. It turns out that toilet cleaner, floor cleaner, IPA aroma is something we’ve learned to associate with healthy wholesomeness only comparatively recently:

With the development of treatments, including antibiotics for diseases such as tuberculosis, the pine tree lost its significance as an essential part of the therapeutic environment by the mid-twentieth century. However its role as a scent and marketing tool in products denoting cleanliness continues within our domestic and institutional spaces, and this should not be underestimated. In 2014 Pine-Sol in the US stopped using natural pine oil in its products due to a shortage and replaced it with an artificial substitute. The response was immediate condemnation from many consumers, which suggests that the connection via smell to the natural pine forest still has meaning, even if the association to the real forest environment with its own sensescape has perhaps become obscured.

Pub refurbishment underway.

A new blog by Peter AllenPete Drinks A Beer, has started strong with a couple of thought-provoking posts, especially this one about the nature of pub refurbishments in which he challenges his own assumptions and reactions:

My companions and I were both angry and depressed. What had they done to our pub?! This sentiment, ugly as it might seem with that note of possessiveness in there, was potent given the fact that many of the people in the pub just weren’t ‘Griffin people’ – at least, they previously weren’t… In betweengetting in my request that Proper Job make an appearance soon, I quizzed the staff about the sale. Their perception of the prior health of the pub was different to mine – “it was dead in here a lot of the time” – and they liked the refurbishment.


From David Holden  at Yes! Ale comes a very nickable format: thinking about beers he remembers fondly and misses, he asked a few friends to do the same, and the result is a collection of warm tributes to short-lived or elusive products:

The craft beer industry moves so fast, sometimes it is hard to keep up. Many breweries adopt a smaller and smaller “core” ranges; if not wholly getting rid of them to allow room for constant development and range of beers they are releasing. Many breweries aren’t re-brewing previous beers due to new lines or trends, availability of hops or malts, one-off celebratory or collaborations; the brewery closing down or selling out to Big Beer. There are many reasons why you may never taste that excellent beer again.

Rheinbacher Pilsner lager can.

There’s been a fair bit of vaguely mocking hype around Aldi’s Rheinbacher Pilsner, a beer that supposedly offers plenty of straightforward pleasure for a minimal outlay. We haven’t been able to try it because there’s no Aldi handy for us, but we did get a message from Ray’s Mum the other week: “Trying this. Alright. Bit sweet.” Now a second trusted voice has weighed in — the Beer Nut:

There’s a delicious weighty sweetness, starting me thinking of helles, but quickly after the early candyfloss and golden syrup there’s a harder spinach and dry tin. It’s not quite a balancing act; more a seesaw: the two very different characteristics taking turns to run the flavour.

And finally, this year’s hottest Halloween trend:

One reply on “News, Nuggets & Longreads 13 October 2018: Pine, Pubs, Pilsner”

I went to a Halloween party as a pint of Guinness once. It is an easy costume – just dress in black (which I did anywhere) and wear a white scarf. Not sure whether I was sexy though.

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