Beer drinker, beer brewer and lover of all things beer.

Friday, 27 August 2010

A Royal Opening

The National Brewery Centre in Burton on Trent is to get a 'right royal opening' with Princess Anne to perform the official opening in late September. I am in no way a royalist but it is quite fitting that the princess royal will be performing the opening as she opened the centre in it's previous incarnation, the Bass museum in 1978. The centre actually re-opened it's doors back in May of this year after being closed for 2 years. The centre that incorporates the Coors visitor centre as well as the Bass Museum was re-opened after campaigning by local MP's and the local branch of CAMRA. The centre is a celebration of Burtons proud brewing history, at it's height Burton was the nations brewing capital and one of the most important brewing towns in the world.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Beer Goggles

Scientists claim to have discovered what causes alcohol to make us find people more attractive than when not under it's influence. We have all experienced this phenomenom at some time while out on the lash and have blamed beer goggles for our 'lack of judgement.' Studies conducted at Roehampton University in London discovered that alcohol caused subjects to lack the ability to determine whether the picture of a face was symmetrical or asymmetrical. Symmetry has been attributed as the important element in what is widely accepted as an attractive face. Sober students made clear preferences for symmetrical faces but intoxicated students didn't. Women had the most difficulty which could be good news for ugly men! The reason given for women being more affected was that men are more visually oriented, in other words they letch more!
There may be some truth in this study but I would take it with a pinch of salt personally. The study was obviously set up to look at this factor specifically and therefore is not really objective. There may be other contributing factors that this study does not take into account because they haven't been brought in to play. The truth is excessive consumption of alcohol contributes to us making a whole host of bad choices and our choice of who we hook up with is just another regret after a night on the lash.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Pietra Biera Corsa

Pietra is a microbewery on the island of Corsica. In an area dominated by wine production it's quite suprising but pleasing to see this brewery prosper. Established 1996 by Dominique Sialelli and his wife Armelle the couple were driven by a passion to create a beer with the flavour of Corsica. This has been achieved by using Chestnut flour in the mash. Chestnut trees are revered in Corsica and known as 'bread trees' which would make it an obvious choice to create something with the soul of the island.
Pietra is a 'dark lager' but you wouldn't know it as it has the flavour profile of a malty ale.It has an abv of 6%. It pours amber in colour with an off-white foamy head that quickly recedes. The aroma is quite nutty and also very earthy with a light sweetness. The eathiness carries through to the palate strongly with some toffee and elements of wholemeal bread. You are left with a dry mouthfeel with light carbonation.
Pietra isn't an unpleasant beer but it is a strange drinking experience. The earthiness is too dominant with little hop character but it is a beer that is easy to finish. I was hoping to like it more but I would have to score it at 2.5 out of 5.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

USA Craft Brewing

Many people I talk to about beer have no idea of the craft beer movement in the states. Most people associate America with mass produced light pilsener style lagers and rightfully so as they take up a 95% share of the market over there. However the situation in the UK is very simillar but the rise of the microbrewery here is well known to many and not just real ale lovers.
 The craft brewing movement has developed in the US over pretty much the same period of time that the CAMRA led real ale movement has in the UK. In some ways the movement in the US is more exciting as there is a real desire for experimentation with different styles being revived and new ones being created where as the UK can be very conservative and far too traditional in it's creations.
America had a rich and diverse brewing tradition that was wiped out by prohbition in 1920. When prohibiton was repealed in 1933 home wine making was legalised but a clerical error failed to add the words 'and/or beer.' Perversley this was not rectified till 1978 when a bill was passed that repealed restrictions on brewing in small quantities. A homebrewing community was born and these brewers re-created styles that they hadn't been able to buy for so long.
Craft brewing has been credited with having been started a while before this time when in 1965 Fritz Maytag bought San Francisco's Anchor brewery. It took Fritz 10 years to establish his brewery as a producer of fine crafted beers and in 1975 Anchor started bottling their flagship Steam beer.
The first actual microbrewery to open in the states in 1976 was the short lived New Albion brewery in California but by this point the homebrew revolution was dawning. Initially a trickle of microbrewers grew in to a flood and by the 1990's there were hundreds breweries and brewpubs in America. By the end of the decade many of the new brewers had gone out of business or changed hands but a solid market base for quality crafted beers had been established.
This period saw the arrival of much respected and very succesful craft brewers such as The Boston Beer Company, Sierra Nevada, Stone brewing and Magic Hat. The craft brewing movement is still growing in the states as more and more Americans look for something more satisfying and exports from these brewers are growing at pace.
Anyone looking to sample quality and diverse beers could do a lot worse than to look across the Atlantic to our brothers in the new world and their fine offerings.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Review of Man Walks in to a Pub by Pete Brown

I read the first edition of Pete's book a couple of years ago when I had a real thirst for information on the history of beer in this country. This book certainly quenched it with a wealth of facts tracing the origins of beer in Egyptian times through to present time (as of 2002 for the first edition.)
 It covers the development of brewing from being a home based activity performed by ale wives to a multi billion pound industry of brewing giants. He looks at the effects of the 2 world wars on the industry and drinking habits of the nation and how the temperance movement fitted in to the picture.
There are many interesting and amusing facts thrown into the mix and his footnotes often give you a good chuckle.
I felt the end of the first edition left me a bit dissapointed as we discovered that Pete was a lager drinker who had an obvious bias towards Stella Artois as he worked in the marketing of the beer. He was also heavy handed on his criticism of CAMRA  who although have obviously been flawed over the years he seemed to under-estimate the power this organisation still had. The second edition of the book for me makes amends for this. He has re-wrote his section on CAMRA with a more balanced and less collective criticism of the organisation and more specific comments. He has also balanced out the critique with praise for their achievements and also reports on how the organisation has developed over the 8 years since the first edition. Gone also are the pages of praise for Stella replaced with a chronicle of this beers rise to glory and subsequent fall from grace.
There are additional chapters on events in the last decade including the rise of Microbreweries, the changes in licensing laws and neo-prohibitionists. The first edition was a great read and spurred me on to read his other great but quite different books related to beer. Pete is now seen as an authority on beer and the industry with his publications in newspapers and his No.1 ranked blog. If you are interested in getting to know more about beer and it's origins this is the book for you, if you read the first edition it's certainly worthwhile reaturning to the second edition with all the changes and additions.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Tollemache Arms Beer Festival

Forget your Great British Beer Festival (that's for wealthy people and Londoners) today (Monday 2nd August) sees the start of the Tollemache Arms Beer Festival. This event is held at the 16th century Inn found in Harrington in Northamptonshire. 30 real ales are on offer and entertainment is provided every day with live music over the weekend. There are bouncy castles and garden games to keep the kids out of your hair so you can concentrate on the important concern of sampling the different beers.
I attended this event last year and it was the best one I have been to at a pub. I will be attending at the weekend with the family in celebration of my upcoming birthday, I have to thank the good lady wife who will be driving us over and sticking to the soft drinks. For more info check out this link: Tollemache arms beer festival