More fancy beer photography

A couple of months ago, I spent some time off photographing my pint of Summer Lightning. Tragic, I know. But I’ve gone further — I spent today building a special light box specifically for taking risque images of flirtatious, nubile glasses of beer.

Here are some sample photos:

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I didn’t do anything to either photograph in GIMP, other than shrink them for the web.

I say “built” but, not being a proper man who’s comfortable with tools and wood, it’s actually an old carboard box modified with a Stanley knife and Sellotape.

I cut holes in the top and one side, which I covered with greaseproof paper. I then put in a large sheet of white card, curved from the top at the back, and Velcro-d in place. I used Velcro so I could put in different coloured card. Here’s a photo of something other than beer, with a red background:

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For a light, I used two angle-poise type lamps with daylight bulbs, one shining through the greaseproof paper on the top; the other shining through the greaseproof paper on the open side.

The end results aren’t perfect, but they’re my best beer photos yet.

Bonus tip: use your camera’s macro mode for close up shots, usually indicated by a picture of a flower. The difference can be amazing.

Beer Glasses

SAHM’s tradition gobletWilson’s comment on the beer glass we used for the photo of our blackberry wheat beer yesterday got me thinking: is everyone else as weird about beer glasses as us?

We’ve got boxes of different glasses stacked around the house. The idea is that we’ve got the right style of glass, in the right size, for almost anything that gets chucked at us. In a lot of cases, we’ve even got glasses with the right branding.

I think, as a bare minimum, you need:

  1. Two half-pint stem glasses — for sharing 500ml bottles.
  2. A straight-sided pint glass.
  3. A “goblet” for Belgian beer.
  4. A tall wheat beer glass.
  5. A half-litre “krug” for drinking German stuff.
  6. A litre stein for drinking German stuff in the summer…

Optional extras would be a tiny US pint glass; a koelsch glass; a tall “pils” flute… I could go on.

Of course, like a lot of people, I have a favourite glass that I use more than all the others. Mine’s a nice, sturdy, straight-sided pint glass from the George Inn, Middlezoy, Somerset, which honours the Queen’s Golden Jubilee with an inscription in Comic Sans. Ha.

So, who else is fussy about their glassware? And if so, do you know where I can get a Marston’s glass…?

Photographing Beer — tutorial

I’ve often wondered how they got those very attractive pictures of the beers in Michael Jackson’s 500 Great Beers book, and I’ve also been increasingly frustrated at how bad my own photos are. They tend to look like this:

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So I spent a few hours trawling the web for tutorials on how to photograph food — this was a great one — and then tried to use some of the same techniques to photograph a nice pint of beer using my very basic digital camera. Here’s the result:

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I’ll tell you how I did it after the jump, if you’re interested.

Continue reading “Photographing Beer — tutorial”

Of trends in British bottled beer; Hook Norton AD 303

From a recent unexpected treasure trove (an off-licence in Stoke Newington) – Hook Norton AD 303, a bottled beer which exemplifies several trends to be seen in British bottled beer.

1. The “patriotic” thing. The large independents just can’t get enough of St George, bulldogs etc. (see Young’s St George’s Ale, Charles Wells’ John Bull.) Seems to be a lack of imagination amongs the marketing guys.

St George enjoying a pint 2. Have a significant year, the older the better. Fuller’s 1845 may have started the trend; not to be outdone, Shepherd Neame went for 1698. AD 303 is surely just taking the p*ss though.

3. Seasonal beers. This I’m a great fan of in theory, although by the time you pick it up in an off-licence you may have gone round the whole calendar at least once. (We also picked up their Haymaker in the same trip – according to their website, available July-August, so presumably last year’s batch). James Clarke, MD of Hook Norton has since informed us that they bottle the seasonal beers all year round.  See Comments.

The other trouble with “seasonal” beers in the UK is for some reason they all seem to translate into very bitter pale beers, whatever the season (OK, I’m being unfair. In the winter you might get a “winter ale” which may even be more than normal bitter with extra caramel).

AD 303 is not bucking any trends here. It’s (surprise surprise) pale and very bitter. Pleasant enough, but not up to HN’s usual outstanding quality.

Boak

Notes:

  1. Hook Norton is a 150-year old “family run” brewery in the Cotswolds (a picturesque part of England near Oxford) . There’s an article about them by Roger Protz here (although I think it’s quite old). I’ve only had the pleasure of trying Old Hooky, Double Stout and Hooky Bitter, and I’ve generally been impressed so far. I look forward to trying Hooky Dark, which sounds enticing and original.
  2. Ad 303 is apparently when St George was martyred in Palestine. Born in Turkey, he is also the patron saint of Aragón, Canada, Catalonia, Ethiopia, Georgia, Greece, Montenegro, Portugal, Serbia, Russia, and Palestine, as well as the cities of Beirut, Istanbul, Ljubljana, Freiburg and Moscow, as well as a wide range of professions, organisations and disease sufferers. There is no evidence he ever set foot in England, let alone delighted in our brewing traditions.