Lederhosen in Lidl, Beer for Breakfast: Some Reflections on Munich

We’ve been to Munich several times, but rarely for more than a couple of days, and not often together.

This time we went with the spe­cif­ic inten­tion of real­ly being in Munich – not jump­ing on trains to oth­er near­by towns, or rac­ing from one beer des­ti­na­tion to anoth­er in pur­suit of ticks and tro­phies.

We began by find­ing accom­mo­da­tion in the sub­urbs, part­ly to save mon­ey, but also because the best times we’ve had on recent trips abroad have been beyond the imme­di­ate cen­tres of cities.

The neigh­bour­hood we end­ed up in was one where peo­ple live, walk their dogs, drowse on bench­es, smoke behind school bike sheds, and use ten-foot plas­tic pluck­ers to pick plums. The hous­es were post-war but con­ser­v­a­tive (Bavaria is not a hotbed of mod­ernism) with con­crete lions on their gateposts and plas­tic elves in their flowerbeds.

Every cor­ner had a polit­i­cal poster or two: BAVARIAN PARTYCHOOSE FREEDOM! ÖDPYOUNG, AND FIERCELY ENVIRONMENTALLY CONSCIOUS! The only AFD posters we saw in our part of town had been either torn down or van­dalised, the can­di­dates giv­en square black mous­tach­es with swipes of mark­er pens.

We drank our first beer in Munich at a pub-restau­rant above the tube sta­tion, on the main road into town, as rain ham­mered the para­sols in the emp­ty beer gar­den.

Ayinger Helles beer.

Ayinger Helles isn’t from Munich, it’s from Aying, and after a twelve-hour train trip, tast­ed great.

The pub was some­how both a bit too posh (table­cloths and orna­ments) and noth­ing spe­cial – limp sal­ad, ser­vice on the SCREW YOU! end of brusque – but the beer was served with all due cer­e­mo­ny. The glass, a sim­ple Willibech­er, was so clean it sang at the touch of a fin­ger, and had plen­ty of room for a crown of foam.

Look at the room through the beer and every­thing seems clear­er than with­out. It cer­tain­ly looks warmer.

A touch sweet, a touch of corn, almost watery, and yet… Yes, anoth­er, please.

After all, as every­one knows, sev­er­al thin coats rather than one thick leads to a more even, con­sis­tent fin­ish.

A good start.

Con­tin­ue read­ing “Leder­ho­sen in Lidl, Beer for Break­fast: Some Reflec­tions on Munich”

Don’t Worry, Be (Mostly) Happy

This post was writ­ten for #BeeryLongreads2018 and made pos­si­ble by the sup­port of our Patre­on sub­scribers. Do con­sid­er sign­ing up if you enjoy this blog, or per­haps just buy us a one-off pint.

For the last year or so we’ve been slowly chewing over a single big question: how healthy is British beer culture?

You might remem­ber, if you’re a long-time read­er, that we first wrote about the idea of healthy beer cul­ture in 2013, but that was a set of bul­let points. This post expands on those ideas with anoth­er five years’-worth of evi­dence, expe­ri­ence and think­ing.

We should con­fess that our start­ing point is one of mild frus­tra­tion at the per­va­sive idea that British beer – and beer cul­ture more gen­er­al­ly – is ail­ing. We see var­i­ous wor­ries expressed on social media, and in blog posts and arti­cles, each one dis­crete and per­son­al, but adding up to a mass of anx­i­ety. If you’re in this bub­ble it can feel like the end times.

To pro­vide fuel for this spe­cif­ic blog post we asked our Twit­ter fol­low­ers to tell us what, if any­thing, made them wor­ried for the future of British beer. Some state­ments echoed things we’ve seen said many times before, while oth­ers flagged issues we had not con­sid­ered. Quite a few effec­tive­ly can­celled each oth­er out, high­light­ing the absur­di­ty of think­ing about British beer as a mono­lith. There is no sin­gle idea of what healthy looks like, and no vic­to­ry that won’t feel like a defeat to some­body else.

In this post we want to focus on some of the most com­mon­ly expressed fears, ques­tion whether they have a basis in real­i­ty, and con­sid­er the the like­ly impact of those that do.

Let’s begin with a sta­ple of beer com­men­tary for the past 25 years or so: the  per­ils of the pur­suit of nov­el­ty.

Con­tin­ue read­ing “Don’t Wor­ry, Be (Most­ly) Hap­py”

Belgophilia Unlocked

Illustration: Belgium and Belgian beer.

Last year we wrote a piece for CAMRA’s BEER magazine about British beer drinkers obsessed with Belgium and Belgian beer.

It was great fun to write and involved inter­view­ing and cor­re­spond­ing with some fas­ci­nat­ing peo­ple, pon­der­ing some intrigu­ing ques­tions – what part did Eurostar play in all this? How will Brex­it influ­ence it in future? What the heck is ‘Bur­gun­di­an Bab­ble Belt’?

It was in the mag­a­zine last autumn and in Feb­ru­ary this year we made it avail­able to our Patre­on sub­scribers. Now, a cou­ple of months on, we’ve unlocked that post so every­one can read it.

If you’d like to get advance access to this kind of stuff (we write two or three things for the Patre­on feed every week), and want to tell us which beers to taste, among oth­er perks, then do con­sid­er sign­ing up. It’s dead easy and real­ly does give us an enor­mous boost and encour­ages us to keep this mad­ness up.

Nineteen-Seventy-Four: Birth of the Beer Guide

In 1974 the first edition of the CAMRA Good Beer Guide was published. We spoke to those who were involved in its genesis to find out how it came to be. Here is the story in the words of those who were there, a version of which first appeared in the summer 2017 edition of BEER magazine.

John Hanscomb
Ear­ly CAMRA mem­ber, and first edi­tor of the Good Beer Guide
We all knew we liked prop­er beer but the prob­lem was, we didn’t know where to drink – we didn’t know where the pubs were. There was Frank Baillie’s Beer Drinker’s Com­pan­ion but that was all about the brew­eries, not the pubs, although it did give you an idea of their trad­ing areas. And the brew­ers… The brew­ers wouldn’t give me any infor­ma­tion! I rang up one and asked them which were their pubs and which sold prop­er beer and they wouldn’t tell me because they thought I was from Watney’s or Whit­bread: ‘We don’t know who you are.’

Michael Hard­man
Co-founder and first chair of CAMRA
John Young [of Young’s brew­ery] was cham­pi­oning cask ale in a very seri­ous way, and had been hold­ing out for a decade before CAMRA came along. He thought of him­self as the only one left. Young’s had nev­er been a par­tic­u­lar­ly prof­itable com­pa­ny. They had some pret­ty dingy pubs, and a very ‘bit­ter’ bit­ter that was going out of fash­ion. In 1963, he’d been approached by Derek Pee­bles, a for­mer naval offi­cer, who said: ‘What you need is a PR cam­paign, and I’m the man to do it!’ What he did was put togeth­er the first ever com­pre­hen­sive list of Young’s pubs under the title ‘Real Draught Beer and Where to Find It’.

Real Draught Beer and Where to Find It

John Hanscomb
The Young’s guide was undoubt­ed­ly an influ­ence, very much so. With Young’s you could guar­an­tee that all their pubs would have prop­er beer. John Young deserves a lot of cred­it.

Con­tin­ue read­ing “Nine­teen-Sev­en­ty-Four: Birth of the Beer Guide”

#BeeryLongreads 2018

On Saturday 26 May (in three months’ time) we’d like our fellow beer bloggers to post something a bit special – longer, more challenging, or just different – and share it on social media with the hashtag #BeeryLongreads, or #BeeryLongreads2018.

What’s the pur­pose? To some degree, it’s pure­ly self­ish: it’s about increas­ing the amount of deep beer and pub writ­ing around for us to enjoy. But it’s also sup­posed to encour­age oth­ers, like the writ­ing equiv­a­lent of sign­ing up to a 10k run. If there’s a project you’ve been mean­ing to get round to but keep putting off, this is your chance. If your blog has gone dor­mant, this might be a peg on which to hang its revival.

What are the rules? There aren’t any rules, as such. You don’t have to link to us when you post, though obvi­ous­ly it would be nice if you did. Using the hash­tag will help peo­ple find your con­tri­bu­tion via social media and  is prob­a­bly the bare min­i­mum com­mit­ment.

We don’t have any objec­tion to pro­fes­sion­al writ­ers get­ting involved, either, if they want to, per­haps by shar­ing an arti­cle you want to write but nobody will com­mis­sion, an old piece from your archives, or an extract from a book you want to plug.

How long is a lon­gread? If you want a tar­get, aim for 2,000 words, or twice as long as your nor­mal aver­age post, whichev­er is big­ger. But it does­n’t nec­es­sar­i­ly have to be long, this time round. It might be deep­er, dark­er, just some­thing that push­es you out of your com­fort zone. Def­i­nite­ly don’t flog your way to, say, 2,000 words for the sake of it.

And here’s what we can do to help: if you’d find it help­ful, we’ll read drafts, com­ment on ideas before you start work, share our research mate­r­i­al, or advise you on where to find your own. If you are some­one who strug­gles with illus­tra­tions or pho­tographs, we might be able to lend a hand there, too. Email us: contact@boakandbailey.com

And when it’s all done, we’ll include your post in a round-up and maybe share it sep­a­rate­ly on social media.*

If you want some ideas or prompts: write about a local brew­ery, active or defunct, that peo­ple might now know much about; or an inter­est­ing local pub. Give us a fam­i­ly mem­oir or tell a per­son­al sto­ry you’ve hes­i­tat­ed to share. Dig up a sto­ry – read old books, old news­pa­pers, ask ques­tions, until you find an inter­est­ing tale nobody else has noticed. Crunch some num­bers. Brew a beer. Vis­it every pub in town.

We’ll issue occa­sion­al reminders, prob­a­bly at the end of March and again at the end of April. You might con­sid­er stick­ing it in whichev­er cal­en­dar app you use and set­ting a few nudg­ing reminders of your own.

If you’ve got oth­er ques­tions, drop us a line, or post in the com­ments below and we’ll update the post as nec­es­sary.

* But we reserve the right not to include a post if it’s, say, down­right abu­sive.