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

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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