News, Nuggets & Longreads 26/07/2014


By the time you read this, we will be in Birmingham preparing for our turn at the Beer Bash (3 pm). Let’s hope some people turn up to see us.

At any rate, through the mag­ic of post sched­ul­ing, here’s every­thing of inter­est we’d spot­ted by Thurs­day evening, for your enjoy­ment this Sat­ur­day morn­ing.

→ We’ve man­aged to avoid the ‘What does AK stand for?’ debate until this point but this post by Mar­tyn Cor­nell has got us hooked.

→ Late night par­ties at Lon­don Zoo amid the goril­las, tigers and snakes? What could pos­si­bly go wrong?

Barm on his relief at find­ing a beer he can rave about: “I have no idea whether Fourpure’s oth­er beers are also as good as this, and to be hon­est I don’t real­ly care.”

Bar­ry Mas­ter­son cuts through the pol­i­tics to observe (a) that he real­ly likes Stone’s beer and (b) when they open their brew­ery in Berlin, it’ll be good news for him.

While Jor­dan St John goes beyond being a bit miffed at the crowd-fund­ing aspect of Stone’s project: Stone’s Indiegogo cam­paign is active­ly evil because they are exploit­ing sec­ondary ideas around the brew­ery busi­ness mod­el like art and com­mu­ni­ty in order to get you to pay them mon­ey to do some­thing they are going to do any­way.”

→ Because Ed is a sci­en­tist, he reads all kinds of bor­ing in-depth pub­li­ca­tions that most of us don’t, which is how he caught the news that lager yeast prob­a­bly didn’t orig­i­nate in Patag­o­nia after all, but in Tibet.

→ From a cou­ple of weeks back, an inspir­ing home brew recipe from Michael ‘Sour Beer’ Ton­s­meire, called Sai­son ‘Mer­i­ca. Just look at the pic­ture of the beer in the glass: Yum!

→ Jay Brooks keeps up a con­stant flow of nice scans from old beer ads on his blog, but this one par­tic­u­lar­ly caught our atten­tion:


Why don’t more main­stream brew­ers pro­duce a real­ly well-made, top-notch flag­ship lager? Is it because it would high­light the poor qual­i­ty of their oth­er sup­pos­ed­ly ‘pre­mi­um’ prod­ucts?

→ Er, that’s it. No ‘lon­greads’ of note, and no Brew Bri­tan­nia reviews to link to. Let’s hope every­one is writ­ing some­thing good for 30 August, eh?

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


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?