News, Nuggets & Longreads 06/09/2014

Breakfast in the Palace, Leeds, by Bob Peters, from Flickr under Creative Commons.
Break­fast in the Palace, Leeds, by Bob Peters, from Flickr under Cre­ative Com­mons.

Here’s some stuff from around the blogoshire and beyond to read once you’ve finished stumbling through the empties in search of a scraper for your tongue.

→ Oliv­er Gray at Lit­er­a­ture and Liba­tion explores beer pric­ing in the US with ref­er­ence to some inside infor­ma­tion on mar­gins and mate­r­i­al costs:

When you slap down $7 for a pint, you’re not pay­ing for the sum of the ingre­di­ents, no mat­ter how exot­ic the hops or rich and deca­dent the malt pro­file. You’re pay­ing for the exper­tise of the brew­er, her time and ener­gy, the col­lec­tive work of a brewery’s staff to deliv­er a prod­uct that you prob­a­bly couldn’t make your­self… You’re pay­ing for knowl­edge, prac­tice, patience; for brew­ing as a ser­vice, not beer as a food.

→ The inter­nal work­ings of the Cam­paign for Real Ale are illu­mi­nat­ed by Glenn John­son who explains how pubs are select­ed for the Good Beer Guide (2015 edi­tion out now) in his region.

Natha­nial ‘Nate Dawg’ South­wood is angry about tast­ing notes:

You can­not write that a beer smells like damp field mush­rooms cov­ered in manure, tast­ing like spunk cov­ered hedgerow and expect peo­ple to believe your con­clu­sion that it was rather nice… I’m just find­ing it irri­tat­ing, vom­it induc­ing and just straight up bull­shit. It’s not doing the indus­try any favours by writ­ing such pre­ten­tious crap.

(We don’t agree with him, but plen­ty of oth­ers do, and it’s food for thought.)

We wrote an arti­cle for Craft Beer Ris­ing mag­a­zine on the revival of extinct British brew­ery brands. It also con­tains pieces by Pete Brown, Melis­sa Cole, Des de Moor.

→ Jeff Alworth high­lights some­thing inter­est­ing: the news­wor­thy 99-pack is ‘craft beer’ engag­ing in clas­sic ‘big beer’ shenani­gans, ‘sell­ing pack­ag­ing, not beer’.

→ Expert home brew­er Andy ‘Taba­matu’ Park­er attempts to clone a beer he’s nev­er tried and exper­i­ments with posh flavour extracts (apri­cot, in this case).

→ Guin­ness have released two new bot­tled porters – Dublin (3.8%) and West Indies (6%) which are now avail­able in UK super­mar­kets. We’ve been sent sam­ples and will write some­thing more detailed when we’ve processed our thoughts, but audio review­er the Orm­skirk Baron has already reviewed them. (West Indies | Dublin.)

IPA his­to­ri­an and expert Mitch Steele offers some thoughts on the revival of Bal­lan­tine IPA by Pab­st.

This inter­ac­tive map of glob­al alco­hol con­sump­tion pref­er­ences is sim­ple but effec­tive. (Via Laugh­ing Squid.)

Screenshot of interactive map of global alcohol preferences.
Screen­shot of inter­ac­tive map.

→ You’ve got a month left to watch the episode of Alex Polizzi’s The Fix­er in which she attempts to turn round a strug­gling UK micro­brew­ery.

→ We’ve seen many vari­a­tions on this image on Twit­ter in the last day or two so that big neon sign prob­a­bly was a good way for Leeds Inter­na­tion­al Beer Fes­ti­val (which runs until tomor­row) to spend their mar­ket­ing bud­get:

News, Nuggets & Longreads 23/08/2014

Pint of beer illustration.

We found time to put together a (small) Saturday round-up after all! Yer tis.

→ Saved to Pock­et: Evan Rail on how a renowned com­put­er hack­er is bring­ing Berlin­er Weisse back to the city of its birth. (From what we’ve read so far, this looks like a superb ques­tion­ing, prob­ing piece of writ­ing.)

→ Home brew­ers with a love of detail: Derek Dellinger’s home brew­ing exper­i­ments con­tin­ue with tweaks to yeast selec­tion and water treat­ment.

Stephen Beau­mont lays down the law on the use of ‘Bel­gian’ and ‘Bel­gian-style’ as descrip­tors, and Stan Hierony­mus gen­tly ques­tions his under­ly­ing assump­tion.

→ The Beer Nut’s series of posts on Bris­tol (1 | 2 | 3) have made for good read­ing in the last week. We agree with sev­er­al of the points he makes, espe­cial­ly this one:

Mov­ing from Brew­Dog to Zero Degrees was like step­ping back in time. Even though the chain only dates from 2000 and the Bris­tol branch is four years younger again, it feels like a peri­od piece from a time before bare wood and dis­tressed let­ter­ing, when icon­o­clas­tic British beer meant cav­ernous halls, bare con­crete and steel gantries.

UPDATE: we’ve removed the bit about the atmos­phere at the Great British Beer Fes­ti­val and might try to revis­it lat­er in the week.

News, Nuggets & Longreads 16/08/2014

"The Wall Worker" by John Thomson, c.1877.

Cock-a-doodle-doo! Good morning, good morning, good morning, good morning-aaaah! Nothing to do but read these links, eat some bacon.

→ The pic­ture at the top of this post comes from Street Life in Lon­don, a col­lec­tion of pho­tographs from 1877–78, with accom­pa­ny­ing essays, which is avail­able online through the the Lon­don School of Eco­nom­ics dig­i­tal library. There are a cou­ple of oth­er pic­tures of pubs in the set.

→ Noto­ri­ous­ly aro­mat­ic and bit­ter, Bal­lan­tine was arguably the sin­gle most influ­en­tial beer in the aro­mat­ic IPA-mania of the last 30-odd years, and now it’s back. This is one Amer­i­can beer we will be mak­ing seri­ous efforts to get our hands on.

→ In the week when the Cam­paign for Real Ale launch­es a dri­ve to change the law to make it hard to con­vert pubs into shops or homes, Mar­tyn ‘Zythophile’ Cor­nell argues vehe­ment­ly that they’re on the wrong track:

Pubs are not sacred. The rights of pub­go­ers do not trump the rights of prop­er­ty own­ers. The dis­ap­pear­ance of any pub is not the same as, eg, the dis­ap­pear­ance of a Sax­on church… If a pub is mak­ing less mon­ey for its own­er than it would under anoth­er use, the own­er must have the right to max­imise their income.

→ On a some­what relat­ed note, pro­lif­ic epis­to­lar­i­an, com­mit­ted Marx­ist, and beer-lov­ing celebri­ty beard-sporter Kei­th Flett writes about ‘The Moral Econ­o­my of the Great British Beer Fes­ti­val’:

The con­cept of the moral econ­o­my, devel­oped by the late his­to­ri­an EP Thomp­son in 1971, is to posit a cus­tom­ary and tra­di­tion­al way of look­ing at things in rela­tion to a mar­ket econ­o­my. The moral econ­o­my does not aim to replace a mar­ket econ­o­my but to tem­per with a frame­work of laws and oblig­a­tions… I think there is an inter­est­ing case for under­stand­ing the Great British Beer Fes­ti­val as an annu­al gath­er­ing of those who take a moral eco­nom­ic view of the beer world.

→ Saved to Pock­et this week: a piece from the Wash­ing­ton City Paper about cult beers, cus­tomer enti­tle­ment, and the com­pet­i­tive urge which is mak­ing beer less socia­ble. (Via Stan Hierony­mus.)

→ We like this pic­ture because (a) hops and (b) Lon­don E17:

And, final­ly, there are a cou­ple of beer sto­ries that went suf­fi­cient­ly main­stream ‘viral’ that we’d sur­prised if any­one missed them, but, just in case…

The Dai­ly Beast wrote a pro­file of Kent ‘Bat­tle’ Mar­tin, the civ­il ser­vant who approves US beer labelsHe reject­ed an “Adnams Broad­side” beer, which tout­ed itself as a “heart-warm­ing ale,” because this sup­pos­ed­ly involved a med­ical claim.’.

Tony Nay­lor wrote a sub­stan­tial piece on the cur­rent UK ‘craft beer’ boom for the the Guardian. (If you must read the rant­i­ng com­ments, note the unjus­ti­fied con­fi­dence with which many peo­ple issue down­right rude ‘cor­rec­tions’.)

News, Nuggets & Longreads 09/08/2014

Bloke drinking beer.

Don’t have much time. Must go out in sun before storm comes. Links below!

Lynn Pear­son on church­es with links to beer, for Eng­lish Her­itage. The first pic­ture, of a stained glass win­dow, is espe­cial­ly won­der­ful. (Via Tim Holt.)

Tan­dle­man had a chance encounter with the head brew­er at Paulaner’s ‘craft’ off­shoot in Munich: ‘“We could maybe taste some of the prod­ucts?” he sug­gest­ed.’

→ The ever-provoca­tive ‘Hard­knott’ Dave Bai­ley has con­clud­ed that ‘hand­pulls suck’ as a method of serv­ing beer.

→ Saved to Pock­et for read­ing lat­er: a long piece (5000 words) by Phil on the social ben­e­fits, or not, of enforc­ing absti­nence from alco­hol.

→ Also saved to Pock­et, this 1940 por­trait of the leg­endary ale house McSorley’s from the New York­er archive. (Via some­one called BB, via Jeff Alworth, who adds com­men­tary.)

Blogging about blogging

Ses­sion #91 has been announced by the hosts, Bel­gian Smaak. The pleas­ing­ly wide-open top­ic is ‘Your first Bel­gian’.

Chris Hall has remind­ed us all about his Gold­en Posts project:

Each tired sigh from the crypt of “is beer blog­ging dead?” (accom­pa­nied by the rat­tling of chains, creak­ing of doors and so on) sug­gests to me a suf­fo­cat­ing, numb­ing igno­rance of just how many great beer blogs are out there, so I hope The Gold­en Posts could help peo­ple find new, great blogs.

→ And speak­ing of mass-blog­ging cir­cle-jerk­ing love-ins, don’t for­get that we’re ‘going long’ on 30 August – we’d love you to join in!

News, Nuggets & Longreads 02/08/2014

Pint of beer illustration.

Seven days is too long without you, baby!

Here’s our week­ly round-up of links from around the Blo­goshire and beyond.

This post from Pete Drinks is thought-pro­vok­ing: when he found beers from a brew­ery under­whelm­ing, they con­tact­ed him to explain that it was a result of over-opti­mistic ‘best before’ dates – a com­mer­cial neces­si­ty, it seems. But, as Pete observes, “not every punter that drinks one of their beers after it’s past its best will write a blog about it and get to under­stand what went wrong”.

Craig Grav­ina at DrinkDrank gave a blunt state of the nation address with regard to ‘craft beer’:

First, I think a change is com­ing. Is it a bub­ble? Maybe, maybe not, and what­ev­er is going to hap­pen, isn’t going to hap­pen over night. But I think we’re mov­ing into the break­ing zone—kinda like when the phrase “fo shiz­zle my niz­zle” became com­mon in upper class, white sub­ur­ban neigh­bor­hoods.

→ Car­la Jean Lauter (aka Beer Babe) has writ­ten a chunky piece for about the unstop­pable march of India Pale Ale (IPA) across the US, argu­ing that the best exam­ples are now being brewed on the East Coast. She backs this asser­tion up with the best data at hand, from beer rat­ing sites. Inter­est­ing stuff, even for those of us who’ve nev­er crossed the Atlantic.

→ While we’re con­sid­er­ing the geog­ra­phy and cul­ture of a coun­try we’ve nev­er vis­it­ed, here’s Jeff Alworth on why Ida­ho isn’t a great beer state, while Wash­ing­ton and Cal­i­for­nia are.

→ As yet unread, but saved to Pock­et, archae­ol­o­gists Bil­ly Quinn and Declan Moore explore whether a par­tic­u­lar type of Irish field mon­u­ment might not actu­al­ly be the worlds ear­li­est brew­eries. (Via @craigheap)

Clive Mar­tin of Vice writes explores the gen­tri­fi­ca­tion of Lon­don through a crawl of its pubs and bars. The blokey, less-gen­tri­fied-than-thou tone wears a bit thin, but he makes some good points. (Via @roryelsome)

→ It’s not often beer plays a part in inter­na­tion­al affairs, but this Russ­ian lager com­mer­cial star­ring David Duchovny has arrived at an inop­por­tune moment.

→ Isn’t this pret­ty?

→ And, final­ly, a cou­ple of Brew Bri­tan­nia reviews, from The Bar­ley Blog and Glen Humphries.