Blog round-up

A cou­ple of things from oth­er blogs that have caught our eye recent­ly.

Wil­son at Brew­vana has organ­ised a “tast­ing ses­sion to engage women in brew­vana”, with six beers test­ed on women from six decades. It’s a thor­ough­ly good read, with Wil­son being slight­ly sur­prised by the favourite beer. He then chal­lenges us to organ­ise sim­i­lar tast­ings.

I’m still scep­ti­cal about there being a dif­fer­ence between male and female taste­buds – I think a lot of the con­clu­sions from tast­ing would apply to a group of men who didn’t like beer either. Still, quite up for organ­is­ing some tast­ings at some point…

Image, and there­fore, mar­ket­ing does have a lot to do with it, a fac­tor Wil­son and his tasters dis­cuss, and is dis­cussed at more length in an arti­cle by Lew Bryson in Conde Naste.

I think in the UK, real ale is dis­liked by women for the same rea­son it’s dis­liked by men – it’s often too warm, too flat and off. And the sterotyp­i­cal image of the real ale drinker is the old beard­ed sex­ist (rather than the young clean-shaven sex­ist for main­stream lager…). More on real ale mar­ket­ing to come in a future post.

On the sub­ject of beer warmth, this seems to be exer­cis­ing British blogs, espe­cial­ly when it comes to real ale. Stonch plumps for 11 degrees* as does Tan­dle­man. This is slight­ly cool­er than CAMRA rec­om­men­da­tions (12–14), and cer­tain­ly cool­er than it’s served in a lot of pubs, espe­cial­ly in the sum­mer. This top­ic seems to attract a lot of inter­est, judg­ing by the num­ber of com­ments. Who said that real ale lovers were anal beer geeks?

I sup­pose the one thing con­clu­sion that can be drawn is that tem­per­a­ture is a mat­ter of per­son­al taste rather than sci­en­tif­ic truth. I’m gen­er­al­ly pret­ty hap­py between about 8 deg and 12 deg for most ales. Too cold can be a prob­lem, but I’d rather too cold than too warm (it can always warm up!) Except that last night I was drink­ing Orval in a pub, which was absolute­ly revolt­ing straight out of the fridge but rather nice when it had warmed up a bit (they rec­om­mend 12–14 on the bot­tle, and who am I to argue with the monks?)

Final­ly, Tan­dle­man is also plug­ging the Win­ter Ales fes­ti­val in Man­ches­ter, tick­ing off oth­er blogs for not men­tion­ing it. Sor­ry for our typ­i­cal south­ern bias, hope this makes up for it!

Talk­ing of regions – I’ve been offered a job that may mean spend­ing a lot of time in Birm­ing­ham. Can any­one advise me on the beer and pub sit­u­a­tion there before I accept the offer?


*That’s in Cel­sius.  About 52F

Happy bingeing

Appar­ent­ly today is the day most cho­sen for Christ­mas par­ties, and there­fore the day when ambu­lance crews are most poised to pick up the pieces. I seem to remem­ber that last year there was a lot of hys­te­ria in the media about this, but there aren’t so many sil­ly sto­ries this year, per­haps because soci­ety didn’t in fact break down and the streets did not run with blood as pre­dict­ed.

The Evening Stan­dard and oth­er relat­ed papers are hav­ing a go, though, with the sto­ry that Lon­don­ers are esti­mat­ed to spend £120m on booze in two days (today and yes­ter­day). How­ev­er, that’s only £20 per Lon­don­er (assum­ing 6m adult Lon­don­ers*), spread across two days. £10.00 doesn’t buy you many drinks in Cen­tral Lon­don these days, par­tic­u­lar­ly in a wanky City bar (bot­tle of Becks – £4.20!!!!!!!!!**)

Giv­en the hys­te­ria about binge-drink­ing at the moment, £120m seems sur­pris­ing­ly low.


*Fig­ure derived from the Office of Nation­al Sta­tis­tics esti­mates in 2006. The fig­ure of 6m includes the over 16s (because appar­ent­ly they’re all drink­ing a bot­tle of wine a week) and excludes short-term migrants.

**That’s about a mil­lion dol­lars for our read­ers across the pond.

Council sponsored beer

breckland.jpgA while ago, I won­dered why more local brew­eries didn’t adver­tise by the sides of rail­way lines, like they do in Ger­many. One rea­son we came up with was that local coun­cils wouldn’t want to be seen to pro­mote booze or booz­ing.

Well, Breck­land coun­cil have no such wor­ries – ear­li­er this year, they joined forces with the Iceni Brew­ery to come up with a spe­cial beer to wel­come home local troops who’d been fight­ing in Afghanistan.

It’s not clear whether the coun­cil actu­al­ly sub­sidised the brew­ing of this spe­cial batch of beer, but they’re cer­tain­ly not shy­ing away from being asso­ci­at­ed with and pro­mot­ing a pop­u­lar, suc­cess­ful local brew­ery.

I don’t know about you, but noth­ing about this makes me think (Dai­ly Mail voice): “NOW LOCAL COUNCIL BACKS BINGEING”.

More coun­cils should be back­ing, sub­si­dis­ing and pro­mot­ing local their local brew­eries. They should be proud of them like Breck­land Coun­cil is of Iceni.