News, Nuggets & Longreads 16 Jan 2016

These are the beer-related blog posts and articles that caught our attention in the last seven days, from low-alcohol beer to the eccentricity of Samuel Smith’s.

→ There have been lots of arti­cles ques­tion­ing the UK Gov­ern­men­t’s new alco­hol con­sump­tion guide­lines most of which, frankly, we’ve ignored as seem­ing shrill and defen­sive. This crit­i­cal take-down from Adam ‘The Stats Guy’ Jacob, how­ev­er, seems pret­ty well bal­anced and, cru­cial­ly, offers a text­book exam­ple of how to dis­close poten­tial bias­es. (Via @PhilMellows.)

→ Those of you unable to drink for med­ical rea­sons, dur­ing preg­nan­cy, because you’re the des­ig­nat­ed dri­ver, or just because you fan­cy giv­ing your innards a break, will be inter­est­ed in Tony Nay­lor’s round-up of the best alco­hol free beers for the Guardian. Con­ven­tion­al wis­dom is ‘Don’t both­er!’ but Mr Nay­lor found a cou­ple of decent con­tenders:

The lemo­ny, herbal saaz hop flavours that dis­tin­guish Czech pil­sners shine through remark­ably well. OK, it tastes card­boardy at the back, but this has more char­ac­ter than many alco­holic big-brand lagers. Shock­ing­ly good.

Con­tin­ue read­ing “News, Nuggets & Lon­greads 16 Jan 2016”

The Temperance Spectrum

Triggering tipsiness is one much-valued feature of beer, but not the be-all-and-end-all.

A first, beer and ale were thought prefer­able to gin because gin made you bad at hold­ing babies, while on beer, you could simul­ta­ne­ous­ly catch up on some read­ing, spend qual­i­ty time with your oth­er half, and bal­ance fish on your head:

Details from 'Gin Lane' and 'Beer Street' by William Hogarth.

Then, in the 19th cen­tu­ry, peo­ple got excit­ed about lager because there was a belief that, unlike British beer, it did­n’t real­ly get you drunk, or make you row­dy.

Con­tin­ue read­ing “The Tem­per­ance Spec­trum”

Lesser spotted Badger beers

We some­times strug­gle to see the appeal of Hall & Wood­house, aka Bad­ger, but they’ve been exper­i­ment­ing quite a lot recent­ly, so there’s often some­thing new to try. Har­vester’s Ale is mere 2.5%, and I’ve been inter­est­ed in try­ing it for a while for that rea­son. At the oth­er end of the strength scale, Poacher’s Choice (5.7%) is made with liquorice and dam­son.

poacherschoice

Our local Turk­ish super­mar­ket has recent­ly start­ed sell­ing ale as well as East­ern Euro­pean lagers, although they only offer the usu­al sus­pects from  Shep­herd Neame, Hall & Wood­house and Wych­wood.

We some­times strug­gle to see the appeal of Hall & Wood­house, aka Bad­ger, but they’ve been exper­i­ment­ing quite a lot recent­ly, so there’s often some­thing new to try.

Har­vester’s Ale is mere 2.5%, and I’ve been inter­est­ed in try­ing it for a while for that rea­son. To com­bat the sweet, watery flavour you get with low-alco­hol beer, the brew­ers have added plen­ty of hops, and the result is very drink­able. It’s almost lager-like in its fizzi­ness, but real­ly not bad at all. The kind of thing you might down a pint of as your first beer after work, before get­ting onto the prop­er stuff. Would prob­a­bly be good at sum­mer bar­be­cues, too. There was a slight acrid flavour some­where at the back but that might well be because a beer this weak is even less capa­ble than oth­ers of stand­ing up to the flu­o­res­cent lights and vari­able tem­per­a­tures of the local cor­ner shop.  If you want a sec­ond opin­ion, Melis­sa Cole reviewed it here.

At the oth­er end of the strength scale, Poacher’s Choice (5.7%) is made with liquorice and dam­son. Its won­der­ful fruity aro­ma filled the room as soon as we opened the bot­tle. The fruiti­ness is not “sub­tle” as the bot­tle claims.  In fact, we would clas­si­fy this as a fruit beer, in the same ter­ri­to­ry as JW Lees’ Plum Pud­ding. The fruit is fair­ly well-bal­anced with the spice and the hops, though. In all hon­esty, we could­n’t drink much more than a pint of it – it is a bit rich and sick­ly – but it’s def­i­nite­ly an inter­est­ing beer, and well worth try­ing if you see it.