News, Nuggets and Longreads 13 April 2019: Peroni, Pricing, Perceptions

Sign on the wall of a Belgian bar.

Here’s everything that struck us as interesting or readworthy in the past week, from notes on enamel signs to news of the CAMRA AGM.

First, a sug­ges­tion for a dif­fer­ent way of think­ing about beer from Stan Hierony­mus:

What if we tast­ed beer in some sort of his­toric reverse? That is, start­ing with a par­tic­u­lar type of beer as it is brewed today, and fol­low­ing it with pre­vi­ous episodes of the same beer… I ask this, and ask it this way, because the Game of Thrones returns Sun­day, and like Zak Jason I didn’t start watch­ing the series when it debuted in 2011 and haven’t since.

Enamel Orval signs.
SOURCE: Eoghan Walsh/Brussels Beer City.

At Brus­sels Beer City Eoghan Walsh has turned his atten­tion to an aspect of Bel­gian beer cul­ture we’ve been aware of with­out real­ly think­ing about – who makes all those enam­el signs you see in bars?

Email­lerie Belge is the last enam­el advert pro­duc­er in the Low Coun­tries, and it has been mak­ing ad pan­els for Bel­gian brew­eries for almost a cen­tu­ry… The com­pa­ny sur­vived a tumul­tuous 20th cen­tu­ry and sev­er­al flir­ta­tions with bank­rupt­cy. Now under new man­age­ment, it’s work­ing to recap­ture the glo­ry days of the enam­el ad indus­try, bet­ting that its small scale, cus­tom, and high qual­i­ty out­put can suc­ceed against low-cost, indus­tri­al enam­el pro­duc­ers.

Italian lagers.
SOURCE: The Beer Nut.

We’ve got a weak­ness for seri­ous appraisals of throw­away beers, such as the Beer Nut’s per­haps sur­pris­ing­ly reveal­ing side-by-side analy­sis of Rossi­ni, an Ital­ian lager from super­mar­ket Aldi, and the prod­uct that just pos­si­bly inspired it:


Rossi­ni, then, was bland­er but def­i­nite­ly smoother and more full-bod­ied. There’s a bread or bis­cuit malt char­ac­ter that made me think of Bavar­i­an helles more than Ital­ian or Dutch pils. The fin­ish was clean and the whole thing very sat­is­fy­ing to drink. Dull helles beats crap­py pils any day of the week.

A brain.

Now, here’s some­thing on sex­ism in beer that goes beyond he-sez-she-sez: researchers at Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty found that peo­ple assumed a beer would be worse when they were told the brew­er was a woman. It’s not all bad news, though:

When we told par­tic­i­pants that a woman-brewed beer had won an award, they rat­ed is just as high­ly as if it was brewed by a man,” says [Shel­ley J.] Cor­rell. “It seems that awards vouch for the com­pe­tence of the woman.”

Beer snobs also are unaf­fect­ed by the gen­der of the brew­er, notes [Sarah A.] Soule.

We find that indi­vid­u­als who have some degree of exper­tise or who real­ly know about a prod­uct tend to focus on its fea­tures and don’t care whether it’s man­u­fac­tured by men or women,” she says.

Craft beer sign in Morrison's.

At its AGM last week­end, CAMRA mem­bers vot­ed in favour of a motion to cam­paign for min­i­mum unit pric­ing in Eng­land. The Pub Cur­mud­geon offers com­men­tary, and express­es his dis­ap­point­ment:

I’ve been a mem­ber of CAMRA for thir­ty-eight years, for most of that peri­od as a Life Mem­ber. I’ve done thou­sands of hours of unpaid work for it. When I took up Life Mem­ber­ship, at a bar­gain price avail­able at the time, a friend made the point that he wouldn’t do so, as it removed the poten­tial sanc­tion of resign­ing, if the organ­i­sa­tion took a pol­i­cy stance he strong­ly dis­agreed with. To jack it in would clear­ly be an exer­cise in cut­ting off my nose to spite my face, and iron­i­cal­ly would actu­al­ly save CAMRA mon­ey. But if I was an annu­al mem­ber, I’d cer­tain­ly think long and hard about whether it was worth renew­ing, and it makes me much less inclined to lift a fin­ger to help the organ­i­sa­tion except out of loy­al­ty to friends.

Benskins cask IPA.

This week’s archive post is John Per­ry’s account of life at Ben­skins’ Wat­ford Brew­ery between 1948 and 1953. It was first pub­lished in 2000 and was repro­duced in the jour­nal of the Brew­ery His­to­ry Soci­ety in 2002:

Char­lie Med­lar was a malt­ster from Nor­folk. He trans­ferred to Wat­ford from Mitchells and But­lers… He cer­tain­ly was a fun­ny bloke, and peo­ple used to come just to hear him say, “Blast my heart”… We had sev­er­al cats which, as you can imag­ine, were encour­aged to make a home – one of the bins for stor­ing malt seemed to be their favourite place. There was nev­er a prob­lem with ver­min, so they were doing their job sat­is­fac­to­ri­ly.

Final­ly, from Twit­ter, a pho­to that cap­tures per­fect­ly the qual­i­ty of light the best pubs achieve:

For more links check out Stan on Mon­day and Alan on Thurs­day.

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