News, Nuggets & Longreads 19/07/2014

Bloke drinking beer.

Boy, it sure is [rainy/sunny] out there! The perfect day to sit [inside/outside] with [a nice cup of tea/an umbrella-festooned cocktail] and read about beer and pubs! [Delete as appropriate.]

→ Stan ‘Hops’ Hieronymus, author of Hopssummarises the 2014 Barth-Haas Group Hop Report, and provides a hop of the hops, in relation to hops. Hops!

Simcoe production was minuscule in 2007, Citra didn’t have a name and Mosaic was still in test plots… Growers planted 1,840 acres of Simcoe this year, 1,720 of Citra and 670 of Mosaic.

→ Ron Pattinson has worked out, he thinks, ‘year zero’ for the not-all-that-ancient beer style, oatmeal stout, and is also continuing to plough through data on historic beer quality: ‘See how once again there’s no correlation between quality and clarity.’

An illuminating bit of ‘craft beer’-related mischief from David ‘Broadford Brewer’. (Read to the end.)

→ The actual news in one bullet point: BrewDog undergoes superficial re-brand. (BONG!) New Minister for Community Pubs. (BONG!) And Greene King form new ‘Axis of Evil’ with Goose Island.

→ Amidst the expected flood of posts about the European Beer Bloggers’ Conference there have been a couple of gems, notably this from Chris Hall in which a decent pint of Fuller’s ESB acts as a ‘hard factory reset’ for a jaded soul.

→ Nico Guba’s ongoing quest to perfect the brewing of German-style beers continues with experiments to test the benefits of decoction:

This simply cannot be replaced by other methods. More starch is available, and this leads to a higher mash efficiency (up to 10%) and a brighter, lighter in colour,  and stronger beer.

→ In the post-war period, while Britain was building ‘modern pubs’, the US was getting into ‘Tiki lounges’ like the Luau in Beverly Hills. This long Collector’s Weekly interview (3000 wds) with an expert on the trend is worth a read.

→ How is it possible for a pub to be completely Victorian and completely of the 1960s? It’s that yellow sign. (There’s more about the Black Friar here.)

Brew Britannia Business

→ Too skint or tight to buy a copy? This competition to win a copy closes tomorrow (20 July) and this one runs until Sunday 27.

→ Speaking of which, here’s Pete Brown’s review and another by Matt ‘Total Ales’ Curtis. Best review on Amazon? Quick delivery and just as described.”

→ And if you’ve got tickets for next Saturday’s session at the Birmingham Beer Bash, then do come and say hello!

News, Nuggets & Longreads 12/07/2014

The Connoisseur. (Of whisky, not beer.)
From 1905. Sadly, he’s drinking whisky, not beer, but we like the image too much not to share it.

It’s time for our weekly round-up of interesting stuff from around the internet. Don’t take it too serious — not many do. Read between the lines and you’ll find the truth.

The schedule for London Beer Week (9-16 August) looks pretty impressive. If you’re a beer geek planning to visit the UK, this might help you decide where to stay and when. (Are there politics behind the fact that the site doesn’t mention this is also the week of the Great British Beer Festival…?)

→ Their beer coverage isn’t always particularly deep but this piece from Serious Eats on how beer prices are set has lots to chew on: “Typically, in a restaurant, you want to keep your food costs and so forth at 33 percent… So, a lot people simply multiply [the product cost] by 3.”

‘How To Blow $9 Billion: The Fallen Stroh Family’, from Forbes magazine. (2000 words; via Tim Holt.)

→ Back in 2011, local historian Patrick Carroll attempted to sift facts from the mass of myths and outright fibs surrounding the history of the legendary Blue Anchor pub at Helston, Cornwall. (3,500 words.)

Derek Dellinger argues that beer styles should be taken less seriously while seeming to take them quite seriously: When I pick up a bottle and there’s no style or description at all, nothing but a cute name and a government warning, I become so annoyed that I will almost never buy that beerGive me at least an idea of what the beer is — however you want to do that.” (1600 words.)

→ Emma has written about the apparently sensitive subject of women drinking alone in pubs and the harassment they sometimes experience.

Tangential pub content, but a good read anyway:

For 30 years, the Ripley Road was the go-to destination for the smart set of the day: young, athletic gentlemen at first; radical, bloomer-wearing ladies later. The ten miles between the Angel Inn at Thames Ditton and the Anchor hotel at Ripley were world-famous, and busy with cyclists on all manner of machines.

Hayley Flynn explored a well-preserved 1960’s shopping arcade in Manchester but couldn’t get into the locked-up and dormant El Patio pub. (via Pubs of Manchester Twitter | Web)

→ And, finally, does anyone know if this is actually legal..?

News, Nuggets & Longreads 05/07/2014

Pint of beer illustration.

There’s been plenty of substantial reading this week, on subjects ranging from children in pubs to the philosophy of reviewing.

→ Justin Mason is a parent and a beer geek and has given some serious thought to the etiquette of taking children into pubs. It’s interesting to see what probably comes naturally to most people broken down into actions.

“Are we living through the death of the review?” asked David Lloyd earlier this week. He isn’t referring specifically to beer but, blimey, it certainly applies: Is anyone, really, listening anymore? Or is it doing no more than fuelling our confirmation bias or excusing our bitterness?” (via @Christopher_R)

→ On a related note, Jeff Alworth argues that beer judging, competitions and awards ‘help Americans understand’ (first beer, and now cider); while Alan ‘A Good Beer Blog’ McLeod is troubled by the idea that ‘craft beer’ implies you don’t have the expertise and knowledge to enjoy it without professional help.

→ We’ve heard it said that the definition of a good brewer is one who knows what to do when things go wrong: Chris and Emma’s use of Yakult ‘probiotic’ yoghurt drink in the absence of  acidulated malt is a striking example.

→ The Beer Nut’s entry to the 89th beer blogging session tells the tale of Ireland’s first lager brewery — a sadly typical tale of grand launch followed, a few years later, by a FOR SALE ad in the back of the paper.

→ Stan Hieronymus reports on serious plans to revive a Polish Grodziskie brewery.

→ We’ve been spoilt for full-length UK brewer profiles this week. First, The Evening Brews’ piece on London’s Brew by Numbers (of cucumber and juniper saison fame) runs to 2000 words.

→ Then Connor Murphy gave us a glimpse behind the scenes at Manchester’s Marble where a new brewer has recently taken over. Mr Murphy’s questioning elicited some delightfully detailed answers about the technicalities:

Previously we were pitching at 25C and fermenting at up to 28C and it was resulting in really high esters, which can sometimes add to the beer but we wanted to tone it down…. We’ve started pitching at 18C and fermenting at 20C because we want all these hop flavours to shine through and we’re not going to get that with a warm fermentation.

→ More on beer from the BBC, who we assume have a ‘habit streak’ going: a report from Harar, Ethiopia, where there is a Heineken-run lager brewery.

→ We liked this photo (via @robsterowski) of a Hackney pub between the wars — that jaunty illuminated sign promises fun times!

News, Nuggets & Longreads 28/06/2014

holiday_fun_special

To make up for skipping a week (our trip to London got a bit hectic…) here’s a BUMPER SUMMER FUN EDITION of our regular round-up of links and news.

→ Peter Swinburn, CEO of global brewing giant Molson Coors, gave a fascinating interview to Bloomberg. The headline is ‘Craft Breweries Massively Over-valued’, but we read it as an acknowledgement that ‘craft’ is more-or-less immune to corporate takeover: precisely those things consumers like about ‘craft’ are difficult to maintain at scale.

→ Michael Tonsmeire has shared a long extract about saisons from his new book American Sour Beers: An elementary recipe inspired by Saison Dupont, the archetype of the style, could be comprised of only water, Pilsner malt, and Saaz hops, but many American brewers opt for something more complicated.”

→ The Guardian reports on German brewers’ attempts to prevent ‘fracking’ which they fear will pollute the pure water upon which their beer depends.

→ Last year, we got excited when we noticed ten-sided pint glasses in the trailer for the BBC drama series Peaky Blinders. (Yes, excited. Tragic.) Now, it seems the show, which returns in September, has inspired a vaguely historical Midlands-style mild from Sadler’s.

→ Since they closed their big brewery in Blackburn, there’s been anxiety among fans of Thwaites that this might signal the end for the Lancastrian brewer. They’ve now announced that a new site has been acquired. Phew!

→ Modern Farmer magazine reports on a booming ‘craft beer’ scene in Paris driven by the ‘eat less, eat better’ trend. (Via First We Feast.)

This piece about the mark-up on wine in restaurants seems to us to have resonances with the debate around the cost of ‘craft beer bars’, especially this point about knowledgeable staff: A good sommelier will increase the guest’s pleasure… If you’re getting divorced, do you Google it and do it yourself or do you pay a solicitor £300 an hour?”

Evan Rail’s new ebook, Beer Trails: The Brewery in the Bohemian Forest, turns out to be the first in a series, with entries from Stan Hieronymus and Joe Stange to follow. Interesting.

Lynn Pearson has written a book about brewery architecture for English Heritage.

→ And, finally, here’s another review of Brew Britannia, from Richard ‘Edinburgh Beercast’ Taylor.

Actually, maybe that wasn’t as ‘bumper’ as we’d hoped — did we miss anything juicy?

News, Nuggets & Longreads 14/06/2014

Welcome to the Inn, 1952.

That question has reared it’s head again: “Is beer blogging dead?” Here’s our response in the form of a special all Blogoshire version of our Saturday morning round-up.

→ Jeff at Beervana has been pondering (not for the first time) the meaning of ‘beer styles’: I drank a bottle of Crux’s Better Off Red, a “barrel-aged Flanders-style red ale.”  What exactly was Larry Sidor thinking when he used those terms?  What should I be thinking when I read them?”

→ Adrian Tierney-Jones isn’t a blogger, but he does write a blog, and he’s been expansive and feisty of late. His piece on how fed up he is of ‘beervangelism’ and the ‘sacred duty’ of the beer writer is a great read.

→ Lars Marius Garshol has a profile of an accountant who became a brewer after a stroke left him out of work and depressed: He travelled around the US for a while, fairly aimlessly by the sound of it, until he hit upon an abandoned brewery in Montana. This, he decided, was what he was going to do.”

→ It’s not something we’d be comfortable doing, but Tandleman recently took a thermometer to some London pubs and came up with numbers to support his feeling that cask ale in the capital is generally too warm: one pint came in at 17.2°c!

→ Connor Murphy’s survey of UK supermarket beer continued with a trip to ASDA, where he managed to find decent beers across a range of styles for a tenner.

→ Paul Bailey (no relation) has been posting a series of longish pieces on the family breweries of Britain, based largely on his personal experience as a drinker from the 1970s to the present. This one on Ruddles is a good place to start.

Beers Manchester has been undertaking a survey of the city’s historic pubs. Part one appeared some time ago, but parts two and three are new.

Some final thoughts: there are more blogs than ever and we think the standard of writing and research has improved across the board since we started in 2007.

As with breweries, though, the more there are, the harder it is to make an impression, and thus harder to get a conversation going.

Let’s put it bluntly: there is no demand for another blog reviewing readily available beers!

That’s not to say you shouldn’t do it if you enjoy it, but don’t expect anyone else to whoop with excitement.

If we were starting a new blog tomorrow, we would want to make sure it either (a) had a distinct and dazzling prose style or (b) covered something no-one was writing about. Preferably both.