News, nuggets and longreads 9 November 2019: Gushers, Sparklers, Fuggles

Langton Court pub skittle alley

Here’s all the writing about beer and pubs that seized our wandering attention in the past week, from Fuggles to brewing family struggles.

A layper­son­’s-terms write-up of aca­d­e­m­ic research into the British craft beer mar­ket by Maria Karam­pela, Juho Peso­nen and Nadine Waehn­ing pro­vides a nar­ra­tive of stag­na­tion and stored-up prob­lems, along with some inter­est­ing spe­cif­ic details:

Our research with brew­ers across Scot­land and Eng­land found that those who iden­ti­fy them­selves as “craft” brew­ers:

> Are typ­i­cal­ly beer afi­ciona­dos who have decid­ed to trans­form their enthu­si­asm into a liv­ing and set up their own busi­ness­es – with the vast major­i­ty being micro-busi­ness­es employ­ing few­er than ten peo­ple.

> Are moti­vat­ed by a lack of tol­er­ance towards the stan­dard­ised, pre­dictable beer flavours that have so far dom­i­nat­ed the mar­ket.

> Tend to use tra­di­tion­al – instead of indus­tri­al – meth­ods to make beer and exper­i­ment with dif­fer­ent types of beer, hop vari­eties, old or quirky recipes and unusu­al or exot­ic ingre­di­ents.

Via @ThurnellReadSoc


Adrienne Heslin
SOURCE: Bre­andán Kearney/Good Beer Hunt­ing.

To wide acclaim this week, for Good Beer Hunt­ing, Bre­andán Kear­ney tells the sad but ulti­mate­ly tri­umphant sto­ry of the found­ing of the West Ker­ry Brew­ery in Ire­land:

Adri­enne Hes­lin and Padraig Bric left their chalet in the Ital­ian resort town of Tro­pea for a short snor­kel­ing trip off the town’s beach. Hes­lin was using the time away to plan her artis­tic projects. Bric’s focus was on a poten­tial ren­o­va­tion to his parent’s pub and guest­house. Eight years pre­vi­ous­ly, their son Hugo had suf­fered Sud­den Infant Death Syn­drome, dying dur­ing the night as he lay between his moth­er and father in bed. This hol­i­day was for think­ing about the future… Bric was a ner­vous swim­mer, and togeth­er the cou­ple wad­ed into the turquoise, blan­ket­ed reefs around the Gulf of St. Euphemia, an inlet lead­ing to the Tyrrhen­ian Sea.


Fuggles illustration.

Schol­ars of hop his­to­ry have been grap­pling with the pre­cise his­to­ry of Fug­gles, one of the most famous Eng­lish hop vari­eties, for years. What is true and what is a handy mar­ket­ing myth? Now Mar­tyn Cor­nell declares ‘The sur­pris­ing secrets behind the ori­gins of the Fug­gle hop uncov­ered at last’:

Its genet­ic parent­age has been a mys­tery, since it appeared to be unre­lat­ed to oth­er Eng­lish hop vari­eties, and the long-accept­ed sto­ry of when it was dis­cov­ered, by whom, and when it was first launched turned out to be dubi­ous at best. Now research by Czech botanists, and a Ken­tish local his­to­ri­an, has answered all the ques­tions: it turns out that every­thing you have read until now, in every book and arti­cle, on the year the Fug­gle hop was first launched has been wrong. In addi­tion, the sur­prise answer to the exact parent­age of the Fug­gle hop turns out to be … well, read on.


Beer being poured, from an old advertisement.

Did you know coun­tries fol­low­ing the Ger­man brew­ing tra­di­tion had their own ver­sion of the beer sparkler that caused con­tro­ver­sy among drinkers in the 19th cen­tu­ry? No, us nei­ther, but for­tu­nate­ly Andreas Kren­mair is on hand to tell the sto­ry:

Most peo­ple think that this is prob­a­bly a prob­lem only cask beer afi­ciona­dos in Eng­land face, but at least in the 19th cen­tu­ry, lager beers in Ger­many and Aus­tria direct­ly dis­pensed from wood­en casks were served in a sim­i­lar way: besides the reg­u­lar tap, a device called Mousseux-Pipe, some­times also called Bier­brause (lit. “beer show­er”), was also quite com­mon. I’ve nev­er seen an actu­al pho­to or illus­tra­tion of one, but the descrip­tions of it make it sound very much like a sparkler: when beer was dis­pensed from a cask through the Mousseux-Pipe, it foamed up and pro­duced a big­ger, denser head… Just like its mod­ern coun­ter­part in Eng­land, the use of Mousseux-Pipen was not uncon­tro­ver­sial either: in Tyrol, the use of syringes of sim­i­lar devices to cre­ate arti­fi­cial foam in beer was pro­hib­it­ed from 1854 on for san­i­tary rea­sons. A let­ter to the edi­tor in a news­pa­per from 1871 laments the “strict non-enforce­ment of this edict got rid of syringes” and pop­u­lar­ized beer show­ers that pro­duced a thick and dense foam that helped defraud cus­tomers through under­pour­ing.


Yellowstone Park geyser.

What exact­ly might cause your beer to ‘gush’ out of the bot­tle uncon­trol­lably on open­ing? Kate Bernot at The Take Out has the answers:

Some beers are bot­tle con­di­tioned, mean­ing brew­ers add a small dose of sug­ar to the beer bot­tle before fill­ing it so the yeast can con­tin­ue to feed on the sug­ar after the beer is bot­tled… But if a brew­er mis­cal­cu­lates and adds too much sug­ar to the bot­tle, the yeast will have a field day, gorg­ing itself on sug­ar and cre­at­ing too much car­bon diox­ide. Then, when you open the bot­tle, kaboom… “The great brew­ers who bot­tle con­di­tion their beers would sim­ply not make that mis­take,” Char­lie Bam­forth, dis­tin­guished pro­fes­sor emer­i­tus in the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia Davis Depart­ment of Food Sci­ence and Tech­nol­o­gy, tells me. “If it was a tiny brew­ery that wasn’t as in con­trol as they should be, well…”


Final­ly, from Twit­ter, there’s this:

For more links and good read­ing check out Alan McLeod’s Thurs­day round-up and Carey’s The Fizz.

One thought on “News, nuggets and longreads 9 November 2019: Gushers, Sparklers, Fuggles”

  1. Thanks for the link to the sto­ry about West Ker­ry Brew­ery. As you say, “sad but ulti­mate­ly tri­umphant”.

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