News, Nuggets & Longreads 28 April 2018: Training, Tadcaster, Telemark

Here’s everything on the subject of beer that piqued our interest in the past week from apprentices to diversity ambassadors, via one or two pubs.

If you like messing around with your beer at the point of consumption — blending it, adding strange ingredients — then you might want to try “roaring” your beer, Norwegian-styleLars Marius Garshol explains:

The first time I heard about it was in Telemark (southern Norway), where Halvor Nordal said that one of his neighbours used to sometimes heat the beer very briefly in a saucepan before serving it. His neighbour thought it made the beer taste fresher… Then, the year after, I visited Rasmus Kjøs Otterdal in Hornindal, 300km to the northwest, and he… explained what people did was to take an empty saucepan and heat it quite well on the stove. Then you took it off the stove and poured the beer straight into the saucepan. The beer would give off a fierce fizzing sound and a thick head would instantly form on it. It tastes great if you drink it right away, but doesn’t last long, he said.


For Imbibe Will Hawkes has written about a new apprenticeship scheme for brewers initiated by the people behind the Brewhouse & Kitchen chain but with 25 other breweries ranging from very big (Heineken) to tiny (Ignition) also signed up:

[Simon] Bunn and his team [at B&K] did consider running the scheme internally, but decided that it was an innovation that the whole brewing industry needed. There are lots of breweries in the UK, but not enough properly-trained British brewers…. He acknowledges, too, that former apprentices will often seek to move on once they’ve demonstrated their skills…. “They tend to go into jobs at bigger breweries, or as head brewer at a small start-up,” he says. “We don’t have too much turnover; I think we lose four brewers a year.”

Detail from a 1929 German beer advertisement.

For Vinepair Evan Rail explains why you should be interested in Andreas Krenmair’s new book Historic German and Austrian Beers for the Homebrewer — that is, because it’s already having an impact in the real world, among brewers eager to find new territory to explore:

Though his book has only been out for a couple of weeks, its recipes have already started attracting attention from both professional and amateur brewers. Homebrewers have reached out to Krennmair with feedback after brewing his 1818-era Bamberger Lagerbier. London microbrewery The Owl & The Pussycat is currently serving its own Merseburger from Krennmair’s recipe, which he calculates at a tongue-numbing 125 IBUs.

(Disclosure: Mr Krenmair is one of our Patreon supporters.)

Humphrey Smith

Sam Smith news: the UK Pensions Regulator is prosecuting the Samuel Smith Old Brewery of Tadcaster and its chairman, Humphrey Smith, for “failing to provide information and documents required for an ongoing… investigation”. Refusing to respond to correspondence from journalists is one thing but ignoring agencies of HM Government is quite another. We watch with interest.

Dr Jackson-Beckham

Progress: the American Brewers’ Association (BA) has appointed an academic, Dr J. Nikol Jackson-Beckham, as its first Diversity Ambassador. Dr Jackson-Beckham “will travel around the country to state guild and other craft brewing community events to speak on best practices for diversifying both customer bases and staff and to listen to current challenges in this area.” There’s commentary from Cat Wolinski and more quotes from Dr Jackson-Beckham in this article at Vinepair.

Portman Group logo.

Further progress, possibly, depending on your point of view: the Portman Group, which regulates packaging and advertising on behalf of the UK alcohol industry, has launched a consultation on its code of practice and is keen to hear your views, including plans to introduce “a new rule with supporting guidance addressing serious and widespread offence, such as sexism in marketing”.

Handpumps at a Bristol pub.

While we strongly disagree with his assertion that “people have never heard of… Boak & Bailey” — we are, in fact, extremely famous, practically household names  — this piece by Mark Johnson reflecting on the chasm between the so-called beer bubble and the wider world of beer drinkers in the context of the CAMRA Revitalisation vote is a good read. He writes:

People like cask beer.

People prefer cask beer.

There are a large number of people that are still drawn to pubs that serve a good pint of ale. For them, the fonts (or wickets, oh yeah) are where the eyes are pulled. The choices are singled out based on colour, strength, familiarity. They know what they like and they know what is good. They don’t always agree upon bitterness, haziness, adjunct flavourings or even silly names but they could pick out off flavours better than most without knowing their names.

Page spread from the booklet.

Those who enjoy wandering the streets of London will want to check out a new publication called Beer Barrels and Brewhouses: exploring the brewing heritage of the East End. It’s been put together by not-for-profit organisation Walk East working with locals, using a Heritage Lottery Fund grant. It is available online as a flippy-flappy interactive booklet and, we think, in hard copy at Tower Hamlets Archives.

(Via Tim Holt @BeerHasAHistory.)

And finally, a chance to buy an heirloom your family will treasure for decades to come…


News, Nuggets & Longreads 17 December 2016: Revitalisation, Raw Ale, Rebel

For this final news and links round-up before Christmas we’ve got stories about CAMRA, Indian street food and historic pubs from around the beer blogs and beyond.

First, some very substantial reading, though not necessarily terribly entertaining — the Campaign for Real Ale’s Revitalisation Project has reported, with recommendations for how CAMRA can, might and should change:

There is no doubt that, on the market today, there exist some keg and other non-cask beers that are high-quality products – brewed with first-class ingredients, often matured over long periods, unfiltered and unpasteurised. In some cases, keg beer contains live yeast and is subject to secondary fermentation in the container. It is, to all intents and purposes, real ale up to the point that carbon dioxide pressure is applied in the cellar… Some of these products, by most measures, are far superior to some of the lower-quality, mass produced cask beer common in pubs – some of which, it is alleged, may be subject to very minimal, if any, secondary fermentation despite being marketed as real ale. Yet today, in accordance with its policies, CAMRA champions the latter over the former.

We’re still digesting it but, as we expected, it is a careful compromise designed to appeal to moderates on both sides of the keg/cask divide. Some will bridle at the suggestion that, even while permitting quality keg beer at festivals, CAMRA should make sure to communicate the inherent superiority of cask, but we get it. Cask is the jewel in the crown, the USP, the quirk that sets us apart.


News, Nuggets & Longreads 29 October 2016: Bud, Trond, Home-Brew Snark

Here’s everything around the beer blogs and beyond that’s grabbed our attention in the last week, from Budweiser to hypothetical travelling salesmen.

Do you remember those happy days when there was no ambiguity and everyone just hated Budweiser the minute they tasted their first microbrewery beer? Well, Budweiser seems keen to bring that back by borrowing the idea for its latest ad campaign from its underdog Czech rival Budweiser Budvar, as reported by Pete Brown:

Come on, Budweiser. You’ve already stolen your name from the town in which Budweiser Budvar is brewed. You’ve copied their advertising idea (albiet in a fine execution) and now even their copy, word for word. You employ some of the best and most expensive advertising agencies in the world (even if you do try to shaft them on costs.) Is this the best those agencies can do?

A man in check shirt holding two bottles.
A reluctant Trond with his beers. SOURCE: Knut Albert Solem.

Knut Albert Solem has a story from researching his book about Norwegian beer which goes in our file on ‘The Quiet Ones’:

Trond makes it perfectly clear that he is in no way ready to present his beers in any book project in the foreseeable future. There is no point in stretching out my visit, he makes no gesture of putting the kettle on. He is in no way comfortable about my visit. But he allows me to take a few photos for web use. And I persuade him to trade a few bottles for a copy of last year’s book.


News, Nuggets & Longreads 20/02/2016

Here are all the articles and blog posts about beer and pubs that have caught our attention in the last week, from Rheinheitsgebot to rejigging recipes to cope with limited hop supply.

→ Andreas Krenmair, one of the winners in our #BeeryLongreads contest before Christmas, provides some pointed criticism of the German beer purity law as celebrations for its 500th birthday gather momentum:

Brewing with other ingredients, such as juniper, marjoram, thyme, oregano, elderflowers, fir tips, birch tips, rose hips, cream of tartar, honey, ginger, gentian roots, bitter oranges, lemons, cardamom, rice, and salt, was common all over Germany. That was the understanding of beer in much of Germany from the 16th to the end of the 19th century. And it’s a sign of a rich and diverse brewing culture.

Film poster: 'And Now The Screaming Starts', 1973.

→ We’ve already shared links to Lars Marius Garshol’s latest post about Norwegian home brew tasting and feedback rituals but it’s too good not to include here:

Some places, the visitors would make no comment on the beer while in the brewhouse. Late that night, leaving the brewhouse, they would stop on the way home and scream. The louder the screams, the better the beer. In some areas people had fixed places where they’d always stop to do the screaming. If the beer was poor the screaming would be half-hearted at best.

beer reviews bottled beer

Homage to the white bits on the map

Announcing the arrival of an Icelandic blogger to the scene the other day, Knut used the catch-all term ‘the white areas on the map‘. As anyone who saw this satellite image in the papers this week will know, Britain has temporarily joined the club, and so it seemed the perfect opportunity to get into the spirit of things.

Here’s what we did yesterday:

  1. Put Johan Johansson on the stereo.
  2. Had a hot bath.
  3. Rolled in the snow.
  4. Got back in the hot bath.
  5. Ate a salad of pickled herring, potatoes, beetroot, apple, onion and sour cream.
  6. Drank the bottle of Nøgne ø God Jul we were given by Knut before Christmas.

We enjoyed the beer a lot. It’s a classy, complex drop which is nonetheless easier going than Harvey’s Imperial Stout. We got something different with every mouthful but the overall picture was of treacle with a hint of wood smoke. We liked the fact that, although very dark, it was deep brown rather than black. The head was so far off white that, for a moment, we wondered if there might be saffron in the beer.

Additional notes: We didn’t roll in the snow for very long because we felt like a right pair of twats. The music eventually proved too pretentious for us and we put ABBA on instead. The table we ate off was bought from IKEA. After this bizarre interlude, we went to the pub for a bottle of Fuller’s 1845.

Update: here are Beer Sagas’ reviews of Nogne ø beers, and here’s the Beer Nut on Nogne ø God Jul Islay Cask edition.