We bookmarked plenty of writing about beer and pubs in the past week, from pub crawls to imagined breweries.
First, some stats from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), via Beer Today: the average price of a pint in the UK has risen by 50p in one year. We’ve certainly noticed the ten-pound-round becoming the norm even in pubs that aren’t especially posh.
The pub crawl is a fascinating thing – a totally different way of drinking, thinking, and approaching pubs. Martin Flynn considers the phenomenon in his latest piece for Pellicle, entitled ‘Between triumph and disaster – the joy of pub crawls’:
Yes, some pub crawls can bring out the worst aspects of British drinking culture, which include peer pressure, mindless and harmful over-consumption, and minimal thought for how boisterous, boozy behaviour can impact on anyone who happens to be nearby. However, they can also result in some of the most fun, unique, and beloved drinking memories… Pub crawls permit long, looping chats as well as short bursts of observation and humour; they provide time and space to vary the pace and subjects of discussion.
For Craft Beer and Brewing Ryan Pachmayer has been to Cologne to investigate Kölsch and the unique drinking culture that comes with it:
An older, heavy-set man has just set down my first glass of Kölsch, and I immediately do what we beer people tend to do: I stick my nose into the glass… “It is beer; you drink it,” the man says… “Okay,” I say, downing the beer in one gulp before handing him back the empty glass. He smiles, nods, and hands me another, ticking a second mark on my deckel… “Sometimes I bring people from the art scene,” [beer sommelier Kevin] Kader says, “and the communication between the old-fashioned köbes and the younger art people is not possible.”
Don’t miss the technical info on how to brew Kölsch towards the end of the article. And if you want another view of Cologne here’s what we wrote last year.
Ed Wray has been on a tour of the Pilsner Urquell brewery and his write up is more technically-minded than touristic, with tons of photos:
Some beer is still fermented in open wooden fermenters and matured in wooden barrels, which I guess keeps the coopers in work. We’re told they do this to ensure that the taste isn’t different from when it’s made in the modern vessels. I don’t believe a word of this myself, firstly because fermenting and maturing in giant CCVs is definitely going to make a difference and secondly because it does actually taste different. I didn’t notice any diacetyl and the bitterness came through a lot more. Lovely it was.
At the Mike Loves Beer newsletter Mike Jurewicz has written about his daydream of opening a brewery – something most of us who write about beer have pondered on at one time or another. What grabbed our attention was his concluding question: why on earth would anyone open a new brewery right now?
I’ve been pointing out stagnant sales and mergers and closures and all of that over in this space… I guess I am pretty hard headed some days and think that through all these middling breweries trying to get chain activations, mandated lines and expand their distribution that there is a place for a neighborhood brewery that only wants to be a part of the community making good beer and being good neighbors.
From Courtney Iseman at the Hugging the Bar newsletter comes a sort of pep talk, for herself and perhaps for the rest of us:
At the very core of why I ever cared about craft beer in the first place is the artistry and passion of the people who make it. Those stories were really all I ever chased before I started writing about beer professionally. And then when you do start covering beer professionally, every other branch of stories you begin to understand and follow starts to bloom with so many leaves that sometimes you can’t even see your original main motivation anymore, your roots…? This tree metaphor was ill-advised. You need to understand and follow all those stories, you should and you should want to. But if you want to keep caring, a lot, and if you want another way to avoid burnout, you’ve got to be able to see that core.