News, Nuggets & Longreads 20/12/2014

Here are some things to read if you find time between your Black Friday hangover and your Panic Saturday, er, panicking.

→ Campaigns and drives and themed days/weeks/months tend to leave us cold, especially when they’re commercially driven, but Try January is actually a pretty clever, positive response to the health lobby’s long-running Dry January: ‘The Try January campaign aims to challenge people to simply try something new at their local. To step out of their comfort zone and, rather than ordering their ‘usual’ to go for something that they haven’t tried before.’

→ Ron Pattinson and Kristen England are really motoring through the 1938 Starkey, Knight & Ford brewing log and this week provided a home brewing recipe for a 1938 SK&F ‘Family Ale’.

→ Breandán Kearney at Belgian Smaak interviewed Michaël Hulet of Belgium’s Slow Beer Club to find out more about their offbeat, family-friendly beer festival, Festibière:

There was a big room for children with lots of toys, games and colouring books. The Kids Zone was supervised by local scouts and they even did some Halloween DIY. There was also a quiet place for breast-feeding women and young parents with babies. Next year we will have even more activities for children. On Sunday there was a demo and competition of the ‘mijole’ game, a classic wooden game played in Belgian ‘estaminets’ or small cafés decades ago. It was funny to see adults playing like children!


News, Nuggets & Longreads 13/12/2014

Here are some links to enjoy with your breakfast, or perhaps when you’re sat in a pub this afternoon surrounded by shopping bags, shaking and pale, vowing never to leave your Christmas shopping this late again.

Joe Stange’s survey of Bamberg’s breweries and pubs for All About Beer is an evocative piece of travel writing and a useful practical guide for first-time visitors. One to save for future reference.

→ In case you missed it, the Wetherspoon chain and Heineken are having a falling out, ostensibly over supply to a pub in growing JDW’s Irish estate. (Commentary from Tandleman here.)

Blogging and writing News

News, Nuggets & Longreads 06/12/2014

It’s Saturday morning so here’s our usual round-up of links, this week including tax and VAT (woo-hoo!), barmaids, beer for women, Panamanian craft beer, and gastropubs.

→ A thought from Richard Taylor at the Beercast: could more small breweries be taking advantage of tax breaks for research and development?

I got in touch with Kian Coertze at JC, and he expanded on Peter’s thinking. “Under the SME (Small or Medium Enterprise) scheme the tax relief on allowable R&D costs is 225%. This means if an SME spends £40,000 on R&D, they will receive an additional £50,000 of tax relief, saving them £10,000 on their tax bill.”

→ Martyn Cornell has written at length about the history of (mostly pink) ‘smoking wrecks of attempts to get females to drink more beer, dating back to the 1980s.’

Blogging and writing News

News, Nuggets and #Beerylongreads 28/11/2014

Don’t be alarmed: you haven’t lost track of the day of the week or time of day. Because tomorrow has been set aside for our #Beerylongreads post about Adnams, we’re springing our weekly round-up of news a day early.

→ Hop merchants Charles Faram have published their 2014 hop report for the northern hemisphere: ‘The crop has not been bad this year and although we will have shortages with certain varieties things could have been a lot worse.’ Phew!

→ After an off-hand Tweet got shared fairly widely (sorry!) Lars Marius Garshol has written at greater length about why he was troubled by a Barcelona bar with no local beer:

In one way it’s perfectly understandable that Latvians and Catalans want to drink foreign beers. I often do, too, in Oslo. But why should visiting foreigners seemingly prefer these beers? If their ratings are anything to go by, that’s what they do. And why should it be exactly the same breweries all over Europe? It’s always the same 3-4 Norwegian, Danish and UK brewers. The world of craft beer is a lot bigger than that.

→ Mark Hailwood’s series of blog posts on alehouse characters, tied into the publication of his book Alehouses and Good Fellowship in Early Modern England, has reached its third instalment with ‘The Wastrel Husband’.

→ We’re not sure we agree with the overall generalisation that the brewing industry is friendly but Pete Brissenden (aka the Beer Soaked Boy) continues his run of great form with a post that gives some concrete evidence to support the claim:

I got put in charge of the dispense installation, troubleshooting, budgeting, maintenance and training people to lineclean at the brewery I was working at. I knew a little, but not all that much about it. I sent a quick email off to Derek Prentice at Fullers explaining my situation and the next week I spent four days shadowing one of their install engineers and one of their cellar inspection guys. They didn’t have to do that for me, Fullers had nothing to directly gain from it, but they did it and it helped immeasurably.

→ From New Scientist (via @JamesBSumner) news of important research which has shown that a good head of foam helps prevent beer from splashing out of the glass.

→ To mark Movember, Glasgow University Archives dug out this corking image of a brewery founder and his facial adornment (via @robsterowski):

→ On Facebook, we’ve been wondering about a format for talking about beer.


News, Nuggets & Longreads 22/11/2014

It’s Saturday, so here’s a gurt load of links for ‘ee.

→ Jack Highberger doesn’t hate pumpkin beers, and he tasted a lot of them to come up with his Pumpkin Beer Flavor Map. An interesting exercise we’re tempted to imitate with another niche style.

→ Saved to Pocket (that is, we haven’t read it yet) this week is Jim Vorel’s piece for Paste magazine on Anheuser-Busch’s pilot brewery. There is a judgement suggested in the title: ‘The Belly of the Beast’.

→ Martyn Cornell has published a transcript of a talk he gave in Copenhagen on ‘place-based beer‘. This is a topic we’ve been thinking about a lot recently — what would be in a really Cornish ale, as opposed to an English-style ale that just happens to be brewed in Cornwall?

→ And the opposite of beers from a place:

→ Stan Hieronymus knows about hops so his comments on the espresso-style Randall-esque hop infuser recently launched in the UK are especially interesting:

In addition, yeast becomes a key player in dry hopping, because of the biotransformations that occur when yeast and hop hang out together — another area where much more research is needed. Those aren’t going to occur in the seconds it takes beer to pass through the “Hoppier.”

→ We can’t possibly know whether the motives are cynical or pure, but Left Hand Brewing’s response to a trademark dispute is a great example of how to turn bad PR to your advantage.

→ The big news of the week has been the success of the Fair Deal 4 Your Local campaign in getting the government to make it compulsory for pub companies to offer tenants the right to pay a market rent for their pubs and thus remove themselves from the obligation to buy from a limited range of beer at an inflated price. Jeff ‘Stonch’ Bell wrote an off-the-cuff response which struck us as perceptive and balanced, and Pete Brown’s thoughts are also worth a read.

→ And if you’re in London, why not come and say hello at Tap East this afternoon? We’ll be signing books, having a few beers, and chatting from 2-4 pm.