News, Nuggets & Longreads 07/06/2014

Detail from Watney's Brown Ale advertisement c.1960.

Hold your breath, make a wish, count to three. Come with us and you’ll be… in a world of beery information!

The Queen’s speech on Wednesday included the announcement of Government plans for a new statutory code and independent adjudicator for pubs, with the primary intention of improving the fortunes of hard-pressed pub company tenants. CAMRA is jubilant; publican campaigners feel its a half-hearted compromise; opponents of state interference in business think it’s  step too far; and we’re holding our breath to see what the impact of even these timid steps might be, with the Beer Orders in mind.

Keen BrewDog watchers have been predicting a rebrand for some time and it seems it’s finally arrived. Is it just superficial, or does this also signal a cultural reboot for a company which has too often seemed downright brattish?

→ Saved to Pocket this week: Martyn Cornell’s lengthy examination of how the RAF supplied troops in Europe with beer during World War II. (We’ve seen that picture of the Spitfire with the beer barrels under its wings a millions times, but this goes into a lot more detail.)

→ After our post about Mackeson, The Beer Nut shared reviews of the same beer and its Trinidad-brewed XXX cousin from his vast archive.

→ There’s yet more decent coverage of beer on the BBC news website with this piece on craft beer in India by Simon Atkinson.

→ This photograph of Kate ‘Maid Marian’ Lonergan hit us hard in the childhood nostalgia glands:

→ And, finally, those of you who like to handle the goods before buying might be interested to know that Brew Britannia is apparently available in actual bricks and mortar branches of Waterstones.

News, Nuggets and Longreads 31/05/2014

Pint of beer illustration.

We’ve seen things… you people wouldn’t believe… Sambucas on fire off the Old Street roundabout… We watched EPOS systems glitter in the dark near the Arndale Centre. All those… moments… will be lost in time, like *koff* tears… In… Rain. Time… to round-up…

→ Saved to Pocket this week, an interview with Martin Hayes, founder of the Craft Beer Company chain of pubs and bars. On ‘craft beer’: “I kind of hate the term now.”

→ We’ve also saved this 1200-word piece from the New York Times on White Labs and the farming of speciality brewing yeasts. (Yeast in the NYT! And not bloody beard or underpants yeast, either — proper yeast!)

→ There’s yet more coverage of beer on the BBC news website with this profile of Croydon’s The Cronx brewery. It’s a weirdly uncritical, rather pointless piece that seems to have escaped from the Morning Advertiser but, hey, it’s beer on the Beeb.

→ Thornbridge and Waitrose have launched a national home brewing challenge: submit three bottles of your home brew to Thornbridge by 31 July for a chance to have it brewed professionally.

→ A follow-up to our Boddington’s Bitter post, how about this shot of a very modern pub, from c.1978? (Note the two young men trying to work out if their beer is ‘straw-coloured’ or just light brown.)

There’s a bit of a brouhaha brewing at Shepherd Neame, which offers an interesting glimpse into the tensions behind the running of a British family brewery.

→ And, finally, if you’re out and about in Cornwall today, the St Ives beer festival is on until this evening.

News, Nuggets & Longreads 24/05/2014

Bloke drinking beer.

After the longest break we’ve taken from blogging in a while, here’s our usual Saturday morning round-up of what’s good to read.

(A report on ‘what we did on our holidays’ will follow tomorrow.)

Tony Naylor’s piece on unfiltered/unfined beer for The Guardian rather echoes our thoughts on the matter:

I can’t deny the aesthetic appeal of the perfect clear pint. But I also realise that is a rather daft, inherited prejudice. Moreover, this criticism of “London murky”… seems to spring from a general cynicism about the febrile creativity of the craft beer scene, rather than objective fact.

→ Adrian Tierney-Jones found a fascinating letter from 1921, concerning questions of the clarity, quality and price of beer: “How are we to reconcile the taste for acidity, common or peculiar to the cider districts, with the taste for soft drinking mild, free from the slightest acidity, pertaining to the next county?”

→ Saved to Pocket this week: a piece by Jonathan Moses about the architecture of the famous Black Friar pub in the City of London.

→ ‘Even Ulan Bator has Irish Pubs‘ is the latest beer-related piece from the BBC news magazine, which seems to be committed to the subject:

IPC’s designers offered to fit out Irish pubs abroad in one of four basic styles – the “country”, a cottage-like room with stone floors and wooden beams; the “shop”, intended to resemble a bar which doubles as a hardware store or pharmacy; the “brewery”, with cobbled floors and upturned tables; and the “Victorian”, an ornate interior fashioned after Dublin’s grander hostelries. There later came the “Celtic”, which saw Gaelic-style swirls and patterns carved into wood.

→ We liked this portrait of a brewer, and wondered why we don’t see more of these on social media:

→ And, finally, the first two reviews of Brew Britannia arrived this week, from Nick Mitchell, and from The Beer Nut on behalf of Beoir.

News, Nuggets & Longreads 17/05/2014

Kidnapping of Freddy Heineken poster.

Dear readers: if our calculations are correct, you will receive this blog post on Saturday morning.

(We wrote most of it on Thursday before heading off on our grand tour of the North.)

→ We can’t claim to have had anything to do with this one (unlike Dogbolter) but it seems another seminal beer which has a starring role in our book — Brendan Dobbin’s Yakima Grande Pale Ale — is making a return from the dead. Tandleman has all the details here.

→ Saved to Pocket this week is this piece from All About Beer on British family brewers and historic brewing by Adrian Tierney-Jones.

This 1905 essay/lecture on ‘The Popular Type of Beer’ (via @YvanSeth) is worth a look in light of ongoing questions about the historic importance (or otherwise) of beer clarity:

I think it is pretty well agreed that an ideal beer for modern taste must have the following characteristics:—

  1. Brilliancy which is not dimmed by cooling.

  2. Low alcoholic strength.

  3. Good condition with a permanent head.

  4. A clean, fairly full, and mature character, a delicate hop flavour, and pleasant aroma.

→ Phil Mellows’ portrait of a distinctly old-fashioned Welsh pub is highly evocative: “After the smell of wet dog, what struck me first about the place was that, in 21st century terminology, it’s a micropub.”

They’re making a film about the kidnapping of Freddy Heineken starring Anthony Hopkins as the wealthy brewing heir. But it turns out it’s not the first — Rutger Hauer had a go at the role a couple of years ago.

→ After a week of sometimes fraught discussion about the intricacies of beer cellaring techniques, here’s another nugget from Ed.

We’re hosting the 88th beer blogging session on Friday 6 June, with the topic of ‘traditional beer mixes’: if you blog, get involved.

News, Nuggets & Longreads 10/05/2014

Bloke drinking beer.

Live from Penzance… it’s Saturday Morning! Which means it’s time for some links to go with your Fruit’n’Fibre.

→ Vice‘s Ali Gourley spent a day at the new ‘PoundPub’ in Atherton, Manchester, questioning whether the bargain boozer is really, as per the media moral panic, a recipe for binge-drinking disaster. The conclusion (spoiler…) is eloquently expressed: “PoundPub is not an exemplar of Broken Britain – it’s a rare and welcome boon for broke Britain.” (1500 words; via @RoryElsome.)

Bob at Anchor Brewing grapples with the question of which ‘style’ category Liberty Ale belongs in — it’s not called an IPA, but everyone has decided it is one.

→ Pete Brown’s extended polemic on the subject of poor handling of ‘craft beer’ in pubs and bars makes some good points:

The situation is often little better with craft keg: beers pour cloudy, flat and lifeless, and because it’s ‘craft’, most bartenders and drinkers, for whom this is a new experience, assume it’s meant to be like that… At six quid a pint, this simply won’t do.

→ Belgian Beer and Food magazine has provided a translation of an open letter from Belgian brewers on the subject of contract brewing:

In concrete terms, the clear and visible mention on each label of the brewery where the beer in question was actually made. Along similar lines, only those enterprises who possess their own equipment for the brewing of beer, which is used to manufacture the entirety of their production, should be permitted to use the term “brewery”.

(Via @RobSterowski whose commentary on it is here.)

→ For obvious reasons, this was our favourite Tweet of the week:

→ In other Brew Britannia news, the first (partial) review has landed, and our promotional tour is almost upon us, starting at the Port Street Beer House in Manchester next Sunday afternoon (18 May).

→ Finally, after a three-month hiatus caused by technical difficulties, veteran Liverpool-based beer and music blogger RedNev is back online. Phew! Though there are always plenty of interesting new bloggers around, it makes us feel a bit lonely when other veterans abandon ship, so we’re glad Nev’s not gone for good.