News, Nuggets & Longreads 12 May 2018: Bass, Bavaria, Bambini

Here’s everything that grabbed our attention in the world of beer and pubs in the past week, from the masculinity of beer to the fascination of Bass.

Dea Latis, an indus­try group ded­i­cat­ed to pro­mot­ing beer to women, and chal­leng­ing the idea that beer is a male pre­serve. It com­mis­sioned a study from YouGov into wom­en’s atti­tudes to beer which is sum­marised here, with a link to the full report:

Beer Som­me­li­er and Dea Latis direc­tor Annabel Smith said: “We know that the beer cat­e­go­ry has seen mas­sive progress in the last decade – you only need to look at the wide vari­ety of styles and flavours which weren’t avail­able wide­ly in the UK ten years ago. Yet it appears the female con­sumer either hasn’t come on the same jour­ney, or the beer indus­try just isn’t address­ing their female audi­ence ade­quate­ly. Overt­ly mas­cu­line adver­tis­ing and pro­mo­tion of beer has been large­ly absent from media chan­nels for a num­ber of years but there is a lot of his­to­ry to unrav­el. Women still per­ceive beer brand­ing is tar­get­ed at men.”

We’ve already linked to this once this week but why not a sec­ond time? It’s a sub­stan­tial bit of work, after all.

There’s some inter­est­ing com­men­tary on this, too, from Kirst Walk­er, who says: “If we want more women in the beer club, we have to sweep up the crap from the floors and admit that flow­ers are nice and it pays not to smell of horse piss. How’s that for a man­i­festo?”

Bass Pale Ale mirror, Plymouth.

Ian Thur­man, AKA @thewickingman, was born and brought up in Bur­ton-upon-Trent and has a lin­ger­ing affec­tion for Bass. He has writ­ten a long reflec­tion on this famous beer’s rise and fall accom­pa­nied by a crowd-sourced direc­to­ry of pubs where it is always avail­able:

It’s dif­fi­cult for me to be unemo­tion­al about Draught Bass. It was part of grow­ing up in Bur­ton. But what are the facts.

The EU AB InBev careers’ web­site accu­rate­ly describes the rel­a­tive impor­tance of their brands to the com­pa­ny.

The UK has a strong port­fo­lio of AB InBev brands. This includes, glob­al brands, Stel­la Artois and Bud­weis­er, inter­na­tion­al brands, Beck’s, Leffe and Hoe­gaar­den, as well as local brands, includ­ing Bod­ding­tons and Bass.”

We’re fas­ci­nat­ed by the re-emer­gence of the Cult of Bass as a sym­bol of a cer­tain con­ser­v­a­tive atti­tude to pubs and beer. You might regard this arti­cle as its man­i­festo.

Con­tin­ue read­ing “News, Nuggets & Lon­greads 12 May 2018: Bass, Bavaria, Bam­bi­ni”

VIDEO: Bavarian Brewing, 1910

Footage (most­ly) from 1910 of the brand new Humb­ser Brew­ery in Fürth, near Nurem­berg, with a rather unnec­es­sary voice-over.

PS. We’re not sure of the ethics of embed­ding this one – obvi­ous­ly ripped from Bavar­i­an TV, but we’re assum­ing that’s a prob­lem for YouTube and, any­way, it’s most­ly made up of what must now be pub­lic domain footage.

What Gives a Beer Value?

A chart showing relative values we place on beers.

This is anoth­er attempt to ‘graph our rela­tion­ship with beer’. This time, it’s about cap­tur­ing the var­i­ous qual­i­ties that give a par­tic­u­lar beer val­ue in our eyes.

  • Sen­ti­ment: home­sick­ness, hap­py mem­o­ries, fam­i­ly con­nec­tions.
  • Taste: how nice is it?
  • Com­plex­i­ty: and how deep?
  • Tra­di­tion: does it con­nect us with his­to­ry and a par­tic­u­lar cul­ture? (Cask ale does this.)
  • Val­ue: i.e. val­ue for mon­ey.
  • Rar­i­ty: how like­ly are we to find this beer again any time soon?
  • Nov­el­ty: Schlenker­la’s smoked maerzen scores high­ly here.
  • Ses­sion­abil­i­ty: we like beers we can drink a few of.
  • Refresh­ment: some­times, we want beer to quench our thirst and cool us down.

For exam­ple, we know, objec­tive­ly speak­ing, that But­combe’s cask bit­ter isn’t the world’s best beer but, nonethe­less, we val­ue it more high­ly than almost as high­ly as Duv­el. That sounds nuts, right? But we’re not say­ing it’s as great a a bet­ter beer, only that, for us, a pint of But­combe Bit­ter is tied up with hap­py times in Som­er­set pubs with Bai­ley’s par­ents (sen­ti­ment); and, espe­cial­ly when we lived in Lon­don, it had a cer­tain rar­i­ty val­ue.

Even we were sur­prised to see that St Austel­l’s Black Prince Mild has the high­est val­ue of any beer on the chart, but then again, it is remark­ably rare; gives us a pow­er­ful sense of engag­ing with brew­ing tra­di­tion; taps into all the sen­ti­men­tal asso­ci­a­tions we make with mild-lov­ing grand­par­ents; and is a won­der­ful ses­sion beer.

Schlenker­la Maerzen scores high­ly because, not only does smoked beer have nov­el­ty val­ue, and a taste we hap­pen to like, but even the mer­est whiff of it trans­ports us back to Bam­berg.

We could record marks for every beer we drink against this sys­tem. It might be inter­est­ing to see, after a year or two, which ends up hav­ing the most ‘val­ue’, and whether we would also con­sid­er it our favourite beer.

Memorable Beers #8: World Cup 2006

Kauzen beer glass with owl logo.

By Boak.

I was lucky enough to spend two weeks at the World Cup in Ger­many in 2006 with var­i­ous friends. We had tick­ets for five games but also made a point of watch­ing every oth­er match we could in pubs, restau­rants and beer gar­dens.  As you might expect, there were many mem­o­rable beer occa­sions, but the one that sticks with me most is spend­ing a few days in Rothen­burg ob der Tauber between match­es.  Even in those pre-blog­ging days, I was suf­fi­cient­ly inter­est­ed in beer to want to try as many as pos­si­ble, where­as my main trav­el­ling com­pan­ion was a fan of “nor­mal lager, like nor­mal peo­ple drink”.

We camped out in the back room of a café that spe­cialised in Flammkuchen to watch all three of the day’s match­es, while the staff brought us pint after pint of Ochsen­furter Kauzen­brau, which I found remark­ably deli­cious.  Unfor­tu­nate­ly, as my friend did the order­ing, I have no idea which one of their range it was (“I just ordered nor­mal beer”). I drank at least six pints, way more than usu­al – it was just impos­si­ble to stop.  Seri­ous nec­tar-of-the-Gods ter­ri­to­ry, with a deep malt flavour that I some­times think I can still taste. They were three very mem­o­rable match­es, too, par­tic­u­lar­ly the Czech Repub­lic vs USA, made even more enjoy­able by the ban­ter with three Amer­i­cans on the table in front of us.

The dis­ap­point­ing post­script to this is that, on a sub­se­quent trip to Fran­co­nia, I dragged Bai­ley round every pub we could in and around Rothen­burg until we found the leg­endary brew that I’d been bang­ing on about. It turned out to be…OK.  Pos­si­bly my biggest ever beer let down, and more evi­dence, per­haps, of “the time, the place”.

Oth­er beery high­lights from the world cup include watch­ing a Ger­many match in the Englis­ch­er Garten in Munich, where the effi­cient Ger­man machine man­aged to serve more than 3000 litres dur­ing half time.

Where is the British Bamberg?

The oth­er day, we asked if there was a beer equiv­a­lent of Hay-on-Wye and, pon­der­ing the respons­es, we began to won­der if our ques­tion was the right one.

Steve Lam­ond sug­gest­ed York as a can­di­date. One of the things we love about York is that, unlike most British towns and cities, it has a bona fide walled Alt­stadt, with­in which, cru­cial­ly, most of its good beer is easy to find on foot, with no need for trams, bus­es or trains, or wor­ry­ing walks through indus­tri­al estates. So, yes, York could be a British Bam­berg, if not a Hay-on-Wye.

Of course, anoth­er thing that defines Bam­berg is just how dom­i­nat­ed the land­scape is by brew­ing: Wey­er­man­n’s malt­ings loom on the sky­line and the air is filled with the smell of brew­ing. We were remind­ed of this on arriv­ing in St Austell on Thurs­day, get­ting off the train to be struck by an almost over­pow­er­ing smell of stewed hops and sweet wort on the wind. The brew­ery build­ing sits on a hill over­look­ing the town tak­ing a place which, in oth­er towns, would be occu­pied by a Nor­man cas­tle.

It might only have one brew­ery, and scarce­ly any pubs of note, but it is a beer town through and through.

The St Austell vis­i­tor cen­tre bar is the best place in Corn­wall to get a wide range of their beers in good con­di­tion (but still no Black Prince mild). We enjoyed Rasp­ber­ry Porter, brewed by Roger Ryman on his small exper­i­men­tal kit, and rem­i­nis­cent of the fruit beers from Saltaire.