homebrewing real ale

News, Nuggets & Longreads 6 October 2018: Cask, Cans, Classics

Here’s everything that grabbed our attention in the world of beer in the past week, from cask anxiety to Berlin boozers.

The latest Cask Report was published (PDF, via Cask Marque) but for the first time in a few years we couldn’t summon the energy to read it, hence no mention in last Saturday’s round-up. But there has been plenty of commentary in the past week and a bit which we thought it might be worth rounding up:

Martyn Cornell – “Why is finding a properly kept pint of cask ale such an appalling lottery in Britain’s pubs”?

Ben Nunn – “[Are] we… heading for a world where real ale is, like vinyl, a niche product – not really for the mainstream, sold only in specialist outlets and usually restricted only to certain styles or genres?”

Pub Curmudgeon – “Maybe it is also time to question whether handpumps can be more of a hindrance than a help.”

Steph Shuttleworth (Twitter) – “[We] don’t currently have any reports that are nuanced or in-depth enough for the industry to rely on… Cask is a significant part of many craft breweries e.g. Marble, Magic Rock, Thornbridge, but we can’t draw lines as to who is in which market…”

Related: you might remember us pondering on Cloudwater’s abandonment of cask a couple of years ago; well, they’ve now un-abandoned it, on a seasonal basis.

Jaipur cans.

Like us, Mark Johnson has been watching the social media excitement over the revamped beer range at Tesco with a raised eyebrow. What is going on when people post pictures of empty shelves, or get a bad canned beer and vow to buy more?

Amongst the many trends to come from the latest big shop choice increase is the case of inconsistency, seen most in Vocation Brewery’s Love & Hate. This New England IPA seems to have suffered on the canning line with clear oxidisation happening far too frequently in batches… Surprisingly, this hasn’t put people off but led to an additional side-quest to the supermarket hunt. “I’ve got one of the good ones.” “Looks like I’ve been unlucky and had an oxidised one.” “I’ve bought three so far, one good, two bad – will buy more and report back…”

Homebrewing yeast, book, notes and bottle.

Jo Turner has written about home-brewing, brewing courses and brewing kits for the Independent:

It’s the aroma that blankets Cardiff city centre a few times a week; that flies down Edinburgh’s Princes Street on chilly winds from the west of town; that stung the unseasoned nostrils of my brother and I when we were kids taking turns to investigate the bitter liquid bubbling away in Dad’s kitchen containers… In the present at New Bristol Brewery, home to Bristol Brewery School, the smell of sweet cereal (like warm Weetabix), with a slight undertone of dog biscuit (pleasing once you’re used to it), rises from the mash tun (a huge, cylindrical, wood-jacketed pot) into which I’m staring, and where an hour ago, eager students emptied bag after bag of grain.

British beer bottle cap.

We disagree with Pete Brown’s fundamental assertion that craft beer fans generally overlook or ignore classic British beers – as with lager, we reckon people confuse a tiny hardcore with the masses when they say things like this, and most of the craft beer types we follow on social media find time to rave about ESB, Landlord, Harvey’s Sussex Best, and so son. Still, his piece riffing on this argument for Imbibe is as entertaining and passionate as ever:

This is part of a wider British malaise of self-deprecation. We were widely predicted to exit the World Cup ignominiously early, whereas in fact we won hearts and minds as well as games. Equally, most of the country agreed that the 2012 Olympics were going to be an embarrassing farce until their jaws hit the floor 30 seconds into Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony… And I know of no other nation of people who are so quick to agree that their national cuisine is the worst in the world, when it patently isn’t. The problem is, even if we wanted to stand up for our national food and drink, being proud of what we do is undoubtedly one thing that we Brits are genuinely terrible at.

Berlin beers.

Joe Stange has written about his “alternate local” in Berlin which he was prompted to investigate by the temporary closure of the pub where he usually hangs out. Reading his post is as good as popping in for a 0,5 there yourself, and highlights some interesting details:

Unusually for a place like this, there are eight taps. The favored house pils is Franconian – from Frankenwälder Burgerbräu in Naila – so we start with that. It’s the cheapest on the menu at €2.95 a half-liter, which suggests a concerted effort to have a beer of that size under €3. It implies some combination of nostalgia and general principle.

We’ll finish with a Tweet that economically sums up a complaint enthusiasts have about recent version of the CAMRA Good Beer Guide:

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