News, nuggets and longreads 4 May 2019: ramen, gin, kveik

A frothy glass of beer.

Here’s all the beer-related gubbins that caught our eye and seemed bookmarkworthy in the past week, from ramen amateurs to the perceived sophistication of gin.

First, though, some bits of news on the health and tra­jec­to­ry of spe­cif­ic brew­eries, which we expect to be includ­ing in these round-ups quite a bit in the com­ing months.

North­ern Monk, which was one of the brew­eries we’d heard might be on the verge of takeover, has announced that Active Part­ners has tak­en a less than 25% stake in the com­pa­ny. (We’re begin­ning to learn the code: that prob­a­bly means some­thing like a 24.5% stake.) In their announce­ment, they acknowl­edge hav­ing bat­ted away offers from larg­er brew­eries.

Mean­while, in Lon­don, Red­church seems to be under­go­ing some tur­moil. It has appar­ent­ly filed notice of inten­tion to appoint an admin­is­tra­tor with the civ­il courts, and changed own­er­ship. (Is it us, or is the launch of crowd­fund­ing increas­ing­ly reli­able as an indi­ca­tor that a brew­ery is either going to fold, or get sold?)

A bowl of ramen noodles.
SOURCE: Adobes97/Pixabay

Cana­di­an writer Robin LeBlanc watched Tam­popo, dir. Juzo Ita­mi, 1985, about two ama­teurs learn­ing to make per­fect noo­dles, and it sparked thoughts about atti­tudes to beer:

With the word ama­teur cel­e­brat­ed instead of filled with neg­a­tive stig­ma (the lat­ter, I feel, unfair­ly gets more focus), sud­den­ly all the events peo­ple go to, the sense of won­der and excite­ment I feel when I go to a bar I’ve nev­er been to before, when I don’t rec­og­nize a THING on the beer menu, and that wild, dev­il-may-care atti­tude when I order some­thing to just try it…all of that sud­den­ly made more sense to me. There was no sin­gle word that could accu­rate­ly define it. “Pas­sion­ate” felt too one-sided. “Curi­ous” didn’t quite cov­er the dri­ve. And a label of “con­nois­seur” or even “expert” seemed to remove a lot of the assump­tion that there is always more to learn and dis­cov­er about beer.

Detail from an advert for Skol, 1960.

The lat­est report on wom­en’s atti­tudes to beer has been released by indus­try group Dea Latis with the provoca­tive title Why Can’t Beer Be More Like Gin? Its find­ing chime with our obser­va­tions: that while women don’t nec­es­sar­i­ly want beer to be pink and frilly, they do appre­ci­ate efforts to make it less overt­ly macho. The report’s co-author Annabel Smith says:

This year’s report illus­trat­ed that many women in this coun­try still have some ingrained deep-seat­ed beliefs and per­cep­tions about beer. And many of these are not pos­i­tive. Women don’t want a beer made for women. Women just want the beer and pub indus­try to look at things from their per­spec­tive, and recon­sid­er how beer is pre­sent­ed and posi­tioned to them.


Joe Tin­dall at The Fatal Glass of Beer has writ­ten notes on beers he enjoyed in Athens – not usu­al­ly the kind of thing that grabs us, but Joe’s eye is sharp, as is his writ­ing, and he makes some inter­est­ing obser­va­tions. For exam­ple…

The label on the bot­tle in front of me reads ‘New Eng­land Bar­ley Wine’. What, I won­der, is the impulse behind this seem­ing­ly con­tra­dic­to­ry col­li­sion of styles? Igno­rance? Provo­ca­tion? Is it a ploy to trick geeks like me into part­ing with their hard-earned Euros, or some­thing gen­uine­ly inspired? … Lat­er on, I look the beer up and find it’s brewed with Nor­we­gian farm­house yeast (kveik) and, just for a while, the con­cept of beer styles seems laugh­ably inad­e­quate.


We men­tioned Palaces of Plea­sure, the new book by Lee Jack­son, in our month­ly newslet­ter, and then gave it a whole­heart­ed rec­om­men­da­tion on Twit­ter. You can now read an arti­cle derived from the book, explain­ing how some pubs evolved into dance halls in 19th cen­tu­ry Britain, via His­to­ry Today:

Some pub­lic hous­es offered com­mer­cial danc­ing; estab­lished venues like the Star and Garter in Rich­mond hired out their large func­tion rooms to the local gen­try, while itin­er­ant fid­dlers toured small work­ing-class pubs. The Morn­ing Post describes a blind fid­dler work­ing the tap­room at the Salmon and Com­pass­es in Brooke’s Mar­ket, Hol­born, a mis­er­ably poor dis­trict. Mon­ey is col­lect­ed, tables dragged to one side. Then, to quote a cus­tomer, ‘when the fid­dler is paid he strikes up and we jump up and dances’.

Seefbier logo.

We were inter­est­ed to read notes from the Beer Nut on the Antwerpse Brouw Com­pag­nie, a brew­ery in Bel­gium, which made a name for itself by reviv­ing  an extinct beer style:

I reviewed Seef in 2014 when it was con­tract-brewed and a clear orange colour. Now it comes from the brew­ery’s own plant and is a hazy yel­low. Though it’s a sup­pos­ed­ly faith­ful recre­ation of a unique local spe­cial­i­ty, it tastes a lot like a weiss­bier: big sweet bananas and a heady buzz of butane. The tex­ture is sim­i­lar­ly soft, while 6.5% ABV inten­si­fies those weiss­bier qual­i­ties, almost to the point of mak­ing it dif­fi­cult to drink. I’m informed by [brew­ery own­er] Johan [Van Dyck] this was the beer con­sumed in quan­ti­ty by the dock­work­ers of 19th cen­tu­ry Antwerp. Feel­ing heavy when only half way down a 33cl bot­tle, I found that dif­fi­cult to imag­ine.

The US Brew­ers’ Asso­ci­a­tion has released its updat­ed style cat­a­logue for 2019. It’s intend­ed as a reflec­tion of real­i­ty, to inform com­pe­ti­tions, and it is always fas­ci­nat­ing to see what’s been added as a snap­shot of each moment. The four new styles recog­nised this year are:

  • Juicy or Hazy Strong Pale Ale
  • Con­tem­po­rary Bel­gian-Style Gueuze Lam­bic
  • Fran­con­ian-Style Rot­bier
  • Amer­i­can-Style India Pale Lager

And final­ly, from Twit­ter, an ‘and­some pub:

If you’re hun­gry for yet more read­ing then vis­it Stan on Mon­days and Alan on Thurs­days.

2 thoughts on “News, nuggets and longreads 4 May 2019: ramen, gin, kveik”

  1. OT, but I know there’s some Young’s fans around here. I recent­ly saw a bot­tle-con­di­tioned Spe­cial in Tesco, which I don’t think I’ve ever seen before (or is it just rebrand­ed, I don’t think so) although it’s not some­thing I’d par­tic­u­lar­ly pay atten­tion to so it may be old news.

    Marston’s mar­ket­ing mus­cle is good for some­thing!

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