News, Nuggets and Longreads 06 April 2019: Berlin, Brett, Better Lager

A derelict pub with faded Courage sign.

Here’s all the news, commentary and thinking about beer that’s seized our attention in the past week, from Berlin to Peckham, via Huddersfield.

First, some inter­est­ing news: Brew­Dog has acquired the brew­ery Amer­i­can out­fit Stone launched in Berlin a few years ago. Stone says Ger­mans didn’t take to their beer or brand; Brew­Dog, which already has a bar in the city, cites a need for a post-Brex­it con­ti­nen­tal brew­ing baseJeff Alworth offers com­men­tary.

Close-up of the CAMRA logo from the 1984 Good Beer Guide.

It’s fit­ting that the new lead­er­ship at the Cam­paign for Real Ale should use an inter­view by vet­er­an beer writer Roger Protz as an oppor­tu­ni­ty to make a state­ment of intent:

Nik [Antona] and Tom [Stain­er] are quick to point out that a pro­pos­al to allow CAMRA beer fes­ti­vals to include key kegs was sup­port­ed by the nec­es­sary major­i­ty and many fes­ti­vals are now sup­port­ing this change.

A num­ber of fes­ti­vals have key kegs with expla­na­tions that are not dog­mat­ic about the dif­fer­ent ways beer can be served. I accept that we’ve poor about explain­ing this in the past,” Tom says. “We need to rep­re­sent all pub­go­ers.”

We may revis­it Revi­tal­i­sa­tion in a few years,” Nik adds, “but in real­i­ty we’re doing it now. Younger peo­ple are drink­ing cask but they want to try dif­fer­ent things – they want to drink good beer but not nec­es­sar­i­ly from casks.”

The UK edi­tion of Wired mag­a­zine has a fun piece by Nicole Kobie about the clich­es of craft brew­ery ori­gin sto­ries, from two-mates-in-a-shed to just-mak­ing-the-beer-we-want­ed-to-drink:

Super­heros have ori­gin sto­ries — and so do craft brew­ers. Read the side of your can of sai­son or pale ale, or click the ‘about; page on the web­site for a crowd­fund­ed, East Lon­don brew­ery, and you’ll get a sto­ry of two friends who met while trav­el­ling, a career change dri­ven by pas­sion for beer, or a frus­tra­tion at the lack of qual­i­ty IPAs avail­able… ‘Tom and Dave met in Chi­na on a rock climb­ing tour around Asia,’ reads Brew By Num­bers’ his­to­ry, while Bian­ca Road begins: ‘It all start­ed back in 2014 with a bike ride, 4800 miles from San Fran­cis­co to Mia­mi.’

Macro shot of text and diagram: 'Yeast'.

For Good Beer Hunt­ing, Evan Rail has writ­ten about the ori­gins of a new­ly pop­u­lar com­mer­cial yeast strain that isn’t per­haps what it seems:

In a depar­ture from Bret­tanomyces’ noto­ri­ous­ly slow fer­men­ta­tion times, the yeast pop­u­lar­ly known as Brett Trois was also said to work near­ly as fast as the tra­di­tion­al brewer’s yeast, Sac­cha­romyces cere­visi­ae… At Omega Yeast in Chica­go, how­ev­er, the yeast sci­en­tist Lance Shan­er was start­ing to have some doubts. “This strain was becom­ing the strain that peo­ple were using for 100% Brett beers,” Shan­er says. “It just start­ed to accu­mu­late all this cir­cum­stan­tial evi­dence.”

Wine glasses.

Kat Sewell, a cre­ative Lon­don home-brew­er, has a nice tale of a neigh­bour, a sack of back gar­den grapes, and a beer on the bor­der of wine:

I was round my next door neigh­bour George’s house for a BBQ last year when I men­tioned to him that I had spot­ted the grapevine grow­ing in his gar­den. George hates this grapevine and has been try­ing to kill it unsuc­cess­ful­ly for years. I had to look out from my bed­room win­dow to see it as it was hid­den behind a mas­sive bit of wood to stop it over­tak­ing the gar­den. This year it had been par­tic­u­lar­ly pro­lif­ic and George knocked on my door a few weeks lat­er with a mas­sive sack of grapes. We’d spo­ken at the BBQ about my brew­ing and so he thought I might like them. He thought cor­rect.

Magic Rock Brewing

We didn’t actu­al­ly share any com­men­tary on last week’s news of the takeover of Mag­ic Rock by Lion, per­haps because… there wasn’t much? This week, though, Mark John­son has come out spit­ting:

The aspect that changes each time comes through per­son­al attach­ment. It has already been sug­gest­ed to me that north­ern beer com­mu­ni­ca­tors are a lit­tle more defen­sive this time than they have been pre­vi­ous­ly… Whether right or wrong, north­ern or south­ern, cap­i­tal­ist or ide­al­ist, one thing remains true – you don’t get to decide how I feel. You don’t get to decide for any­body else what their reac­tion should be.

Text illustration: LAGER

Will Hawkes has been reflect­ing on the evo­lu­tion of lager in the UK and the effect of beers such as Cam­den Hells, effec­tive­ly drag­ging up the qual­i­ty bar:

What­ev­er hap­pens, beer drinkers should see this [new Carls­berg Pils] as a vic­to­ry: a brand that for so long has been com­mit­ted to medi­oc­rity is sud­den­ly mak­ing some­thing quite nice. This has only hap­pened because of the changes in beer over the past decade or so. For­get the milk­shake IPAs and sour pil­sners for a sec­ond and think back to why this whole phe­nom­e­non began: to get bet­ter beer on the bar. That’s what has hap­pened here. Whether you try it or not, this new Carls­berg is a big win for drinkers. Multi­na­tion­al brew­ers may be buy­ing up your favourite brew­eries, but you and peo­ple like you have changed how they oper­ate on a fun­da­men­tal lev­el.

And final­ly, look, we’d nor­mal­ly avoid high­light­ing stunt beers, but HENDOS!

There’s more read­ing to be had from Stan on Mon­days and Alan on Thurs­days – do check them out.

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