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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A Grab Bag of Interesting

Let's skip the usual preamble and launch straight into the many interesting tidbits I have collected for you.

1.  I have both a new post at All About Beer and one I think I forgot to tease.  The new one concerns how London's beer scene looks a lot like ... Portland's (or any American city).  They love them some American-style IPAs--but it leaves me wondering who will champion cask.  It has already provoked one rebuttal--or call it an addendum--from Boak and Bailey.

The earlier post I forgot to mention emerged from Gigantic's Massive! barley wine, a beer that endures a nine-hour boil.  It gave me an opportunity to haul out my old Lacambre and throw around words like "maillard reaction."  Read it here.

2.  While we're on All About Beer, you might consider checking out this post about the proposed new Mikkeller brewery slated to go into San Diego later this year.  Interesting experiment.

3.  A beer fest in Reykjavik features two Oregon breweries (of 13 total)--Hopworks and Breakside.  From the press release:
“Our focus has been on breweries from Oregon simply because we like the way people from Oregon think and how the craft beer movement has been developing in that particular state,” said Ólafur Ágústsson, restaurant manager at KEX. “We feel that we can connect to people from Portland and all of Oregon. Reykjavik has a lot in common.”
The next question is: how do I swing a junket to Iceland?

4.  The rare brewers dinner that features multiple breweries.  It's at Higgins and it ain't cheap, but you get the Commons, Crux, Boneyard, Barley Brown, and pFriem in one meal.  And Higgins is never cheap, anyway.  I do wish more restaurants would do this kind of thing.  Italian beer dinners, German beer dinners, sour beer dinners--there are many organizing principles one can deploy that don't involve one brewery.

5.  We drink less beer.  Ron Pattinson has a fascinating group of charts showing how much less we drink now than we used to.  In the past fifty years, per-capita beer consumption has fallen markedly:
  • Belgium, -38%
  • (West) Germany, -6%
  • UK, -25%
The US is slightly weird because of prohibition, but another chart, in which he looks at the last six years, is equally interesting:
  • Belgium, -12%
  • Czech Republic, -9%
  • Germany, -4%
  • Ireland, -20%
  • Netherlands, -11%
  • UK, -21%
So the period corresponding to the biggest worldwide brewery boom in--well, forever--is also the period in which per capita consumption is tanking.  (True in the US, too, though numbers are lagging.  Consumption fell 7% from '08 to '11.)

6.  According to my Facebook alerts, February 18th is the birthday of Crux's Larry Sidor, Pink Boots' Teri Fahrendorf, and Double Mountain's Matt Swihart.  That seems like a damned impressive coincidence.

1 comment:

  1. I commented on your All About Beer page, but I like repeating myself. This is just regarding point 1.

    These are all valid points, and your concern over the health of British cask beer is not insignificant. But, I would like to point out that, although there are a few breweries and a few beers that are attracting headlines, there are still a huge amount of beers produced that are quintessentially British.

    This is just my tiny little opinion, but I happen to think that the influx of outside influence is good for traditional beers and breweries. I think that the younger/newer drinkers are bringing with them a different, critical look to beers. On the one hand, traditional brewers are concerned that newer drinkers are just after a 'grapefruit hit' in their beers, and concerned with only IBUs and intensity of flavours. In the short term, this may be true, sadly. Long term, I think that these newer drinkers will understand more about the technicalities about what makes beer great, and the subtleties that makes beer great. To reference a post that I think is perhaps relevant, and almost certainly true:

    I think that the introduction of these different styles and new flavours is only a good thing. These modern drinkers will have a fuller and more rounded view and opinion of beers, and are more critical in general. If we are to follow trends of the US, we will see that producers of truly great beer are in demand. This, I think, will happen here in the UK, and elsewhere. Actually, it is evident already.

    The problem with many indigenous beers, whether in Britain, Germany, or, especially, Belgium, is that, after years and years of little progression, the only point of difference has been price point, and the only change has been a deterioration in standard. There are many traditional beers and breweries that are truly awful. And there are many that have stuck to their principals and are outstanding. I think with the newer drinkers, armed with more discerning taste buds, will raise the expectation of what good beer should be, irrespective of style, and make our tiny little world of beer a better place. Other opinions are, of course, available.

    When you came to Britain in 2011, I am sure that you found many beers that were dreadful. Just because it is served from a cask does not make it good. Similarly, just because a beer is doused in Mosaic is no guarantee that it is any good.

    Your concern for traditional styles is valid. It is not insignificant. But I believe that your concern will be proved to be moot.