News, nuggets and longreads 18 March 2023: the big combo

Here’s all the writing about beer and pubs that leapt out at us in the past seven days, from coolships to TikTok.

On Wednesday the Chancellor Jeremy Hunt delivered the latest Budget (we seem to have one every couple of months these days) including something branded the ‘Brexit pubs guarantee’:

My penultimate cost of living measure concerns one of our other most treasured community institutions, the great British pub… In December, I extended the alcohol duty freeze until 1 August, after which duties will go up in line with inflation in the usual way… But today, I will do something that was not possible when we were in the EU and significantly increase the generosity of Draught Relief, so that from 1 August the duty on draught products in pubs will be up to 11p lower than the duty in supermarkets, a differential we will maintain as part of a new Brexit pubs guarantee… Madam Deputy Speaker, British ale may be warm, but the duty on a pint is frozen.

Emma McClarkin, CEO of The British Beer & Pub Association, says:

The cut to draught duty as part of the alcohol duty reform is positive and we hope that it will result in a boost for our pubs this summer… However, the fact is, our industry will be facing an overall tax hike not a reduction come August. Duty on non-draught beer will rise and the measures introduced today won’t rebalance the catastrophic impact soaring inflation and unfair energy contracts are having on both pubs and the breweries that supply them… As the 1st of April rapidly approaches, businesses are also nervously awaiting what’s next for their energy costs, and a lack of support in today’s announcement will have a direct impact on their ability to keep their lights on and doors open.

If you can slip through the paywall (sometimes you can, sometimes you can’t) there’s a good summary by Oliver Barnes at the Financial Times.

Text on an old brewery schematic: coppers, coolers.

Martha Holley-Paquette, co-founder of the Brewery of Saint Mars of the Desert in Sheffield, has written about the history and function of flat coolers AKA coolships AKA koelschips:

In the early days of industrial brewing, the post boil, pre-fermentation period must have been agonizingly long. Cooling down from the boil (100C) to fermentation temperatures in the teens likely required an overnight stand.  Not ideal when you’re dealing with a fragile liquid such as unfermented wort.  It’s the perfect place for all sorts of microscopic nasties to make their new home, fouling the flavor and longer-term stability of your beer… The needed innovation for quick cooling was to increase the surface area of the wort, creating a greater cooling surface. If the cooling vessel was also made of a material known for its heat transfer properties, all the better.  Therefore, eventually almost all coolers were built from copper, whose thermal conductivity is right at the top of the list.

The Hofbrauhaus beer hall, Munich.

At Daft Eejit Brewing historian of European brewing Andreas Krennmair has written about the ‘court brew houses’ of Bavaria:

Even if you’ve only ever dabbled a little bit in Bavarian beer, you will have stumbled upon the Hofbräuhaus in Munich, owned by the State of Bavaria, and with a beer hall in the heart of the city. But then you look further, and realise that there’s also a Hofbräuhaus Traunstein 75 minutes outside of Munich, and then there’s of course Weißes Bräuhaus… It all actually started with a bit of a brewing crisis. Starting from 3 September 1571, brewing in Munich was totally banned.

A sign from a bar: Notice to customers, please keep your distance.

Three years on from the start of the COVID-19 pandemic Jeff Alworth has taken a moment to reflect on the experience, and the changes it prompted:

[Here’s] a strange little development I didn’t see coming. The shutdowns didn’t entirely eliminate our desire to get out of the house. Vacation travel is exploding. We see some of the consequences in that trend spilling over into beer. Even when they’re not on a beach, people want to feel like they are. The only unalloyed positive trend in beer is imports, almost exclusively Mexican imports. AB InBev’s craft strategy has mostly been a wash except for one product, their Kona Big Wave, which is about to become a million-barrel beer… This phenomenon is happening in the UK, too. One of the hottest new beers is Madrí—which looks and tastes like a crisp Spanish lager filled with the sunshine of Valencia. But it was actually an invention of Molson Coors, brewed in Burton. People hunger for that sunshine, though, so having a glassful in a pub on a dreary day is like going on a tiny vacation. 


At Punch Danny Chau announces the return of the term ‘dank’ to describe a certain type of IPA, with quotes from the aforementioned Mr Alworth:

“Dank,” even at its peak as a complimentary term, never lost its connection to revulsion, that sense of unease and intrigue that simultaneously pushes you away and pulls you closer. The dankest IPAs conjure the aroma of cannabis, but also find a secondary connection to weed in their lingering bitterness, a jolt to the system that might as well be psychoactive. The hazy IPA—which leans heavily on dry-hopping to draw out the fruitiness of the new-generation hops, but balances those flavors through a soft texture—could be seen as a balm for the burnout of a palate-wrecked hops enthusiast. For your years of service walking through the pine forests covered in sap, here is your reward: a brew that looks and tastes like a mimosa.

A screengrab of a TikTok video with an older man staring at his phone in front of a tasting flight of beer. The caption reads "When you can't drink until your dad logs it on Untappd".

For VinePair Aaron Goldfarb highlights a cultural trend we’d never otherwise have noticed: TikTok videos about craft beer dads using Untappd. It’s a reminder, if nothing else, that the idea of the youthful craft beer hipster is not a stereotype that necessarily rings true in 2023:

To these teenage and young adult TikTokers, their Dads Untappd beer geekery is from another generation. Even for craft beer fans, we have to admit the days of it being the hip, new thing, enjoyed strictly by a young cognoscenti, are well over. Craft beer is as mainstream as can be, now sold at supermarkets and strip mall Applebee’s, at gas stations and professional sporting events. What was, just a decade ago, the signifier of a drinker who enjoyed the flavorful, the obscure, the anti-corporate, the artisan, the craft of quality beverages, is now seen as something else: a dorky pursuit of older guys with mortgages, respectable jobs, and comfortable New Balance sneakers.

Finally, from Twitter, some valuable advice…

…and from Mastodon:

A post from Brian Alberts "The Irish sure know how to make beer." ~ Schitz (famous Irish brewery), 1964 #beerhistory #stpatricksday #beer” The picture shows a man happily drinking beer with a shamrock on his lapel. Tagline reads "Ah! The Irish sure know how to make beer. After the parade, get together with a friendly glass of Schlitz."

For more good reading check out Alan McLeod’s round-up from Thursday.

One reply on “News, nuggets and longreads 18 March 2023: the big combo”

Yup. The “youthful craft beer hipsters” of circa 2009 are now in their 40s! It’s real. I looked in the mirror this morning and realized I’ll be 60 next month! Time to grow up. Must be.

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