Saturday 31 December 2022

Golden Pints 2022

This morning dew, don't it take like wine to you

In this brand-new world so brave and true.

This golden pint is gleaming like it's just been born

In a brave new world, a brave new world ... out of the blue

Pic from B&B

Best UK Cask Beer:

It's Thurston's Horsell Hop, their green hop beer, that wins this year. Outstanding stuff!

Best UK Keg Beer:

There have been a few occasions this year where I've had to suckle at the devil's drainpipe. Can I remember any as standing out? No, I cannot. My slackness with the blogging doesn't help either. I went to Curious and had a session lager there. Went to Beavertown too but they're tossers. And I was back on the Bermondsey beer mile at one point too. Oh, I know, Hiver Fabal! It's one of mine so definitely that. 

Best UK Bottled Beer:

I did get given a case for xmas, which shot it to the top of the rankings: Ridgeway Very Bad Elf.

Best UK Canned Beer:

I canned beer for the first time this year which was all very exciting. It was Hepworths Charger so that. 

Best Overseas Draught:

I did get overseas this year, back to the wonderful Carnivale Brettanomyces, though in Belgium this year. It was based at Misery brewery. Can I remember what I drank there? No. But I did have some of Misery's so them. 

Best Overseas Bottled Beer:

I've had a few oversea's bottled beers. And recently too. Which ones though? Ooo...Orval featured so that's a safe choice. 

Best Overseas Canned Beer:

Did I drink any overseas canned beer? Possibly. Can I remember any? Definitely no. 

Best Collaboration brew:

Can't think of any.

Best Overall Beer:

Horsell Hop.

Best Branding:

Thurstons as usual. 

Best UK Brewery:

And it's Thurstons again. 

Best Overseas Brewery: 

That'll have to be Orval.

Best New Brewery Opening 2022:

No idea.

Pub/Bar of the Year:

The Crown of course. 

Best New Pub/Bar Opening 2022:

No idea for that either. 

Beer Festival of the Year:

The GBBF was back! Hurrah!

Supermarket of the Year:

I've barely bought any beer from supermarkets but Booths was the best. 

Independent Retailer of the Year:

The shop at the Hogs Back brewery. 

Online Retailer of the Year:

Not bought any online beer this year.

Best Beer Book or Magazine:

Hmmm...I did fairly well at reading this year. But what beery books? Drinking Up the Revolution has a great title but is a bit of a curate's egg and the author is a Bolshie so he's not winning unless he apologises for Kronstadt. Oooo yes...the CAMRA book that was good: Laura Hadland 50 Years of CAMRA.

Best Blog or Website

Blogs still seem to be on the way down but Boak and Bailey soldier on regardless so them. 

Simon Johnson Award for Best Beer Twitterer:

Will it still be around next year? What a plonker that oligarch is. Anyway, this year I'm going with @jamesksowerby

Friday 30 December 2022

Truly a stupid idea

When recently seeing The Nephs I felt my throat get a little dry. Must have been all the dust. When I went in search of refreshment I was surprised to see what was being advertised on the bar runner: alcoholic sparkling water. 

Truly Hard Seltzer if you were wondering which particular alcoholic sparkling water. No, I'd never heard of it either. 

Hard seltzer's grew massively in the USA and were widely expected to do the same here but it just hasn't happened. Molson Coors spent millions installing a hard seltzer canning line at their Burton brewery to package Three Fold (and no, that's another one I'd never heard of). I have looked out for hard seltzers in supermarkets and have spotted White Claw but don't think I've seen any others the wild. 

A big problem I see for hard seltzers over here is it just sounds a bit rubbish. We don't use "hard" to mean "contains alcohol" and the only time use use "seltzer" is when it has "alka-" in front of it and is used to cure hangovers. If I had a product that was basically fizzy water with added alcohol I'd go out of my way not to describe it like that. As Truly have had to explain on their own bar runners that the drink is alcoholic sparkling water I think they're not only on the back foot but fighting a losing battle from the start. "Do you fancy an alcoholic water?" "I'd rather have a beer if it's all the same to you thanks"

Thursday 22 December 2022

Brewers Congress 2022

The Brewers Congress at a new venue in London this year. It was better for the stalls but not as good for the talks. I also heard they ended the posh dinner evening a lot earlier so all the speakers didn't look completely hung over this time. The talks still started late though so they were rattled through at a brisk pace. 

First up was Rudi Ghequire from Rodenbach brewery. My extensive notes tell me: 

Acetic acid to ethyl acetate
Centrifuges not filtered
Classic pH3.5. Grand 3.3

Then it was Jaime Jurado to talk about CO2. I took no notes at all but I did try and get a picture of every slide. CO2 prices have gone up massively and we've got a new CO2 recovery unit at work so this talk was of particular interest to me. 

Then Dawn Maskell from Heriot-Watt talked about an unfilterable haze, though rather unfashionably about how they'd identified and helped prevent it. Perhaps the haze additive commercial spin off will follow next. 

My notes and pictures seem to have died a death after this so no doubt I'd moved on to the networking

Saturday 10 December 2022

200 years of Burton IPA

I managed to make it to Burton for the 200 years of Burton IPA celebration. This was doing better than two of the people that were meant to speak but were sadly struck down with illness. 

India Pale Ale was first brewed in London but Allsopp's started brewing it in Burton in 1822. Allsopp's have recently been re-launched so there was a bit of an Allsopp's theme to the day. Double Diamond, though an Ind Coope brand was apparently had it's origins as Allsopp's IPA. Which means the late lamented Ind Coope Burton Ale did too. 

Jamie Allsopp, the man behind the revival was there, complete with a plaque he'd like to put where the Allsopp's brewery was. 

Unfortunately the land is now owned by Molson Coors and he hasn't got permission yet!

The Allsopp's was founded in 1742 and bought by Samuel Allsopp in 1806. 

The designs used for the modern Allsopp's branding are based on historic ones. 

Old brewing records have been found and are used for inspiration. \\

We got to try the 7.4% Celebration Ale. Brewed with pale and crystal malt with Fuggles and Challenger for bittering and Bramling Cross and Cascade for aroma. FG is 1.013 which must make the OG around 1.070. Despite the 50 IBUs it still tasted very sweet, though it's bottle conditioned so should dry out a bit. Other Allsopp's beers are being brewed, including a lager that I saw at Notting Hill Carnival of all places. Mind you, building a lager brewery didn't do the original Allsopp's much good. A revival of the legendary Arctic Ale is also planned which I very much look forward too. 

We then had someone speak about White Shield, and how they once did something very similar to what Pete Brown later did for his Hops and Glory book and flew a cask to India whilst another went by boat. By all accounts the one which took the boat journey tasted much better. 

Then Dr Harry White, formerly of Bass brewery and now chairman of the National Brewery Heritage Trust spoke about pale ale brewing in Burton. 

Good for some but not others

In 1832 Bass was brewing 15,000 barrels, with 5,000 going to India.

Bass was the bigger of the two. Their output grew rapidly after the railway arrived in 1839.

Emma Gilliland from Marston's spoke about water chemistry next. 

Gypsum (Calcium sulphate) rich Buton water being good for pale ales. The sulphate to chloride ratio is important for beer flavour, 2:1 giving a dryer beer with assertive hops, and the other way giving a sweeter beer. 

The high sulphate levels in Burton water gave a sulphury/egg smell to beer which was gloriously named  the Burton snatch. In the questions after the talk someone did ask why doesn't Marston's Pedigree taste the like it used to and certainly it's years since I've noticed anything eggy about it. I suspect they've changed what they do with the water, though Marston's still get lots from the wells on their site. 

I have spent a long time working on brewing water chemistry but I still learnt a fascinating fact. Magnesium sulphate also fluid retention, which increases the volume of the intestine, putting more pressure on peristalsis which causes the other effect Burton beers are known for.  

David Jesudason talked about the colour bar in pubs and how campaigners fought against it. 

He continued on to the asset stripping history of the East India Company (imagine Amazon running a country!) and how the excesses of luxury were for whites only. Beer marketing of India Pale Ales usually overlooks this completely, so he wanted to a de-colonised IPA. With Villages brewery he made a modern IPA using Indian spices and sugar, with money from sales going to a flood charity in Pakistan. 

Johnny Garret was up next. I have 90 minutes of nerding out written in my notes. A podcast maybe or perhaps something he does of an evening? I can't recall. He talked of the decline of British hop growing and how support is needed now. So with Meantime brewery he made Now IPA using Goldings as the bittering hop and modern varieties like Jester and Olicana as late hops. 

The main event ended with a panel discussion where someone put the boot into Greene King IPA ten minutes after their Quality Manager had left. How's that for bad timing? I'm sure she'd have given as good as she got. I did stick up for it myself but I'm sure my reasoned and entirely accurate statement on the weak IPA of old family breweries was ignored by all present.

And then it was time for the pub.