Drunken Speculation

MR | Third Edition, May 2014 – Good Beer Week ’14

Giro d'Italia 2014 - 1a tappa - Belfast-Belfast - Crono Squadre.Last week on Drunken Speculation, I wrote about North American and Australian industrial beers for #badbeerweek.

The series on industrial beer was meant to be restricted to last week but due to the difficulties of consuming a lot of beer and trying to write in my downtime, the Australian post slipped to Saturday and a European post is coming this Tuesday. So while some might say that Good Beer Week 2014 is “officially” underway, I disagree. It won’t get underway until we arrive in Melbourne on Wednesday night after I’ve finished martyring my tongue for your entertainment (entertainment is used loosely in this context).

As previously mentioned, we’ll be down for GBW14/GABS on Wednesday. Our plans remain quite fluid but, like a few others, we’re planning on hitting up Pint of Origin on Thursday, GABS on Friday, something that won’t ruin Mega Dega on Saturday and maybe back to GABS on Sunday before flying home.

You can follow our adventures in Melbourne on Facebook and Twitter.

To Tweet of the Week!

I could have led with this

and offered no comment but instead, I’ll tackle this:

Given I’ve spent the better part of last week torturing myself with Corona and its ilk, I believe I’m in a position to comment. It may surprise beer nerds but some people genuinely like Corona and there’s nothing wrong with that. Some people don’t like malt or body or bitterness but do like being refreshed with something sparkling, alcoholic and mild. Corona is perfect for those people and they should be free to drink it sans prejudice. The most toxic thing about craft beer enthusiasts is the snobbishness in a lot of fans’ baggage. I think it’s fine to have a dig now and again but if your automatic response to the word ‘Corona’ is to look down your nose, you’re part of the problem.

As for why a brewery would stock Corona? Fuck, maybe they like making money. Maybe the Corona sales subsidise the brewery. I’m as guilty as anyone of narrowing my world-view down to the inner suburbs of my city but I can think of three brewpubs in Brisbane that stock other breweries’ beers and if I asked for a Corona, I’d get it at two of them (or, failing that, definitely XXXX) because breweries are businesses. They don’t exist to advance some ethereal notion of bettering people by providing them with objectively superior beer (spoiler alert: that’s not a thing) unless it suits their business model. They exist to turn a profit so the brewers don’t have to get shitty desk jobs like the rest of us.

Moving on, what did others have to say last week?

Australian Brews News – But should every venue stock craft beer?

The visit to the small city rim bistro, a venue that has been celebrated by bloggers and food writers since opening at the start of the year, revealed a bank of 8 taps, with six beers and two ciders. The beer list was impressive, with a good mix of beers from lager to stout, and including a number of national craft icons. The list was certainly impressive…until I actually drank.

The first beer — a premium lager with craft beer stylings — was a textbook example of stale and oxidised. Wet cardboard, stale bread, a hint of cabbage and metal were the dominant flavours. The second beer, a beer that is normally defined by hops, was in this case defined by sherry.

While I can’t claim to have received off beers as a result of poor handling and for the life of me, I can’t figure out which venue Matt Kirkegaard is talking about in this piece, I do strongly agree with his questioning the value of having craft beer everywhere. I know many brewers are not fans of their beer being ordered and left to effectively rot, so there needs to be an element of responsibility from the handlers to keep it in somewhat passable condition or risk damaging both the brewery’s and the retailer’s reputations.

Of course, a bit of scarcity doesn’t do profit margins any harm. Why yes, I am quite cynical today.

Luke’s Beer – Lack of hops has brewers ailing

If you are looking to buy US Aroma hops now, you won’t be likely to get a contract for any before 2016, as the next two seasons are 100% contracted. Most smart breweries are now contracting a base amount of hops for 5 years out.

In New Zealand, as in the US, aroma hops are in high demand. It is also a very fast changing market as brewers like to move onto the next exciting hop variety. This may mean they drop past hop varieties that have been popular.

From the growers point of view there is a long lead time, 3 years to invest in a new variety. A grower is likely to only consider committing to new plantings if they have a commitment from brewers in the way of contracts. If they can get a 3 year contract they will consider committing to the hops the brewer wants to buy, but 5 years definitely makes it a better business proposition.

Luke also wrote a good piece on NZ’s craft beer “bubble”. I don’t think I can forgive Luke for missing the “ale-ing” pun in this post’s title but in the meantime, I have some hops futures collateralised debt obligations to arrange. Who wants a slice of mezzanine debt?

beer is your friend – Good Beer Week Guide – Tip #7

While I was in Melbourne last year for Good Beer Week, I drew up a list of all the bars I had to visit. And I mean HAD to visit – skipping one was not an option because it meant I’d miss out on a beer and, well, FOMO.

But you know what I realised this year? At Good Beer Week, even at GABS, there are always going to be beers I miss out on. It is impossible to try every beer on offer during this time – and not because it would kill your liver (though it would) but because beers are tapped and drunk and gone all the time during this week and a bit. They’ll go before you get the chance to drink them.

Glen’s list of tips is just as applicable to any beer drinking, not just during Good Beer Week.

A Ph.D. in Beer – Brewing at DC Brau Brewing Company

The first place that let me tag along was DC Brau Brewing Company. In case you don’t know, DC Brau is about 3 years old, opening in April 2011. It is the first package / production brewery within the District in more than 60 years. Since they opened, a few other places have opened up but they were first. DC Brau has many feathers in its cap for several beers, most recently having their canned double IPA “On the Wings of Armageddon” named one of 10 best canned brews in the US by Phoenix New Times. DC Brau is definitely a brewery on the grow; shortly after my brew day there in mid-April they announced that they were going to install 6 more fermentation tanks to almost double their capacity (again!). In fact, last year in a great piece by “The New Yorker“, DC Brau was the 5th fastest growing brewery in the country — and they’ve continued to expand since that article.

The Drunk Alchemist – Demystifying the mash

The most important part of the hot side of brewing a beer is the mash. This is the stage in the brewing process where modified barley is converted to simple sugars that the yeast can metabolize. The modification process, which mostly takes place before the barley reaches the brewer, converts the bulk of the volume of the kernel to proteins and starches. There are several different classes of enzymes (which is a type of protein) that act on the proteins and starches that contribute to the quality of the finished product.

Beervana – On the Other Hand, Maybe IPAs ARE the Most Popular

There’s that old 20/80 rule (the “Pareto principle”) that describes markets: 20% of the people do 80% of the drinking.  What portion of those heavy drinkers are consumers of mass market lagers versus craft beer?  Probably a lot–that’s why Natty Light is sold in multiples of 12 and craft beer comes in 22s.  If we look at all the people who drink beer, the population will include a ton of people who just have an occasional pint, many of them choosing craft.  (The data are woefully incomplete, but surveys have vividly illustrated the point.)

Beer of the Week may as well be my 500th check-in on Untappd: Brewcult’s Keep on Truckin. KoT is categorised as an American red ale, which is a reasonable enough description. Red ale is not my favourite style but when hopped up a bit, it can be delightful, as Brewcult’s beer is. While I undoubtedly passed my 500th beer a while ago (I don’t believe I’ve checked in the beers I had at the Porterhouse in Dublin in 2009 for a start), it’s still a nice metric milestone to accompany “Legendary” status.

Anything I missed?


  1. That response about Corona is just what I wanted to say on Twitter, but was severely hampered by those 140 characters. While I’m no fan of Corona and don’t understand why people drink something that needs citrus inserted so it tastes of something, it doesn’t really irritate me.
    I joke about crappy beer like Corona a lot but, at the end of the day, it’s just beer. We all like it for different reasons and i would never seriously suggest that my reasons are correct and those Corona drinkers are wrong.
    It’s beer – have fun with it.
    By the way, I am pleased that I made it to Tweet of the Week. 🙂

    • The responses to your original tweet were irritating me no end. Seemed like any defence of a Illawarra selling Corona was being met with a snooty burrowed brow, as if it was impossible to have small scale brewed beer and macro lager in the same space without causing the universe to collapse on itself. I blame the Victorians and their little southern bubble.

      But yes, Twitter is a poor place for that kind of extended argument, hence TotW.

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