Here’s all the reading about beer and pubs that grabbed our attention in the past week, from disputes over duty to the language of beer.
First, news of the ongoing debate over changes to small brewers’ relief (SBR), which has now gathered petitions and, of course, put CAMRA in a pickle as it tries to find the correct position. This week, it issued a memo asking branches not to get involved in lobbying on SBR; it then had to issue a clarification (apology) making clear that individual members were, of course, free to sign petitions and lobby as they liked as long as they didn’t imply it was the Campaign’s official position.
For Tribune magazine philosopher and writer Tom Whyman has been reflecting on the future of the pub as a public space:
With a dedicated core of regulars, some sort of membership club which offered things like discount pints, exclusive beers, and preferential booking – or perhaps curated beer deliveries, with the staff knowing what everyone likes to drink – would provide the pub with the sort of secure, base-level monthly income which might underpin its long-term viability. Something closer to a private member’s club would also be preferred by people still wary of how responsible other drinkers are being in relation to the pandemic – it would be good to know you were drinking somewhere with people you could trust.
It’s a classic format: beer geek tries extra strong cornershop lagers for thrills. But Tom Pears’ piece for Ferment, the magazine of beer retailer Beer 52, is an excellent example, with the added depth lockdown and plague bring to everything:
Finally, it was down to Karpackie. The beer that had haunted the back of my fridge and my dreams for weeks, demonic in its all-black can. The only attention that it pays to any form of branding is the ‘strong’ written in blood red on the front, which serves as both a warning and a tasting note. Foolishly, I’ve read online reviews, even watched a YouTube video, neither did much to temper my nerves. At 9%, it’s only 1% higher in abv that Super Tennant’s, yet it’s infinitely bleaker. A liquid headache, it impressively manages to smell and taste like glue, nail polish remover and petrol all at the same time.
Source: Lars Marius Garshol/Olga’s family.
Lars Marius Garshol has given us another detailed look at brewing on a specific remote Scandinavian farm, this time in Denmark, where people have an “easy, relaxed relationship… with beer as almost an item of everyday diet”:
Lotte said Olga’s last brew was in 1984, when she moved to a care home. The beer was actually served at a kind of celebration for her moving in at the care home. She died in 1988. Lotte took up the brewing again in 2005. She had brewed with Olga, so she knew what to do, but to be absolutely sure she had an older local woman with her “as a consultant.” That old woman had brewed until 2000, so she was probably the last person to brew on Møn before Lotte took up the brewing again.
For Burum Collective Rachel Hendry has written about “compound drinking” – that is, what you can learn about wine from drinking beer, and so on:
Whilst tasting wine came with pressures of a looming examination, with beer it was different. With no systematic approach, or a printed list of suitable aromas, I tasted openly, free of a need to point score or impress… Beers tasted of sharp, acidic tomato ketchup and hot dogs quietly smoking on a barbecue. Of leftover peach melba pie eaten for breakfast and the prickly spice of ginger as it wafts through the kitchen. I found I could talk about them with honesty, feeling less like an imposter with a borrowed vocabulary and more like someone who could confidently access their senses… Over time, comparisons and contrasts were made between wine and beer and I began to feel more certain about how my mouth responded to tasting, where tannins grazed my gums and the ways acid streaked down the sides of my mouth.
This week Good Beer Hunting shared three in-depth pieces unpacking exactly why brewing remains effectively closed to black people. The first piece by Mike Jordan digs into structural issues around funding – for various reasons, it is more difficult for black-owned breweries to get loans, grants and to access government support.
The second, by Toni Boyce, argues that a certain smugness and complacency around the idea of the ‘craft beer community’ has held back the discussion and prevented necessary change.
Finally, Dr. J Nikol Jackson-Beckham makes the business case for solving this problem: “The Kellogg report notes that in a little over 25 years, people of color will represent half the total population, and more than half of the working-age population, of the United States.”
Finally, from Matt Curtis for the blog of marketing agency Mash, comes a guide designed to help brewers label their IPAs in ways that will avoid irritating or disappointing consumers:
I can’t state this clearly enough: In a global market of over 20,000 breweries, you need to label your beer in a way that accurately describes to your customers what it’s going to taste like. If you’re going to sell an expensive ticket, the ride should be as advertised.
Sag nicht Kölsch oder Alt sondern pic.twitter.com/eWizk4YHOP
— ???????????? (@bartlebeer) August 13, 2020
For more good reading – though not so much this week – check out Alan McLeod’s round-up from Thursday.