We got some great news through last week that Drunken Speculation has been selected to be a part of the National Library’s PANDORA archive. PANDORA is Australia’s Web Archive, a collection of historic online publications relating to Australia and Australians considered to be “of significance and to have long-term research value.” More on our Facebook page.
As I’m getting two of my wisdom teeth extracted tomorrow (look out for my painkiller-induced delirious tweets on Wednesday), we headed out to Newstead last Thursday for one last (temporary) hurrah. Therefore, my Beer of the Week goes to Green Beacon’s Penny Porter, one of my favourite Brisbane-made beers and I picked up a growler from the brewery for only the second time ever. Good to see they’ve introduced a get-9-refills-and-the-10th-is-free offer as well.
To the Tweet of the Week!
Well, actually I don’t have one because British GP, start of the Tour and World Cup quarter finals is a list of events I don’t want ruined before I’ve had a chance to view them at a reasonable (i.e. not 2AM) hour, so I haven’t been paying much attention to Twitter. On the other hand, I’ve got a bumper line-up of Monday Reading to make up for it.
The Tale of the Ale – Dublin Conference Highlights #EBBC14
The reception on Friday was similar to in previous years except for one thing. The volume of beer was insane. We basically had a mini beer festival on our hands with more beer on tap than bottle. The upside here was just the sheer craic we had talking to brewers, sampling their beer and getting to know other bloggers. The only possible downside was because there were not too many bottles, bloggers probably didn’t walk away with a suitcase full of samples to bring home.
Realistically, most craft breweries are small businesses, nearly all of which are closely-held, if not completely family-owned. Unfortunately, family-owned businesses are notoriously unsuccessful when passed to the next generation. And it could be worse for craft successions occurring as market growth begins to slow, inter-craft competition increases, and craft consolidation begins. Sure, you could argue that won’t happen, despite decreasing headroom for premium shelf space, an increasing number of players vying for a share, and the expansion of formerly regional breweries soaking up more of that share at lower prices. We could also pretend that people who love beer produce offspring with better decision-making skills. But I assure you…I love and drink a lot of beer, and I also have an aggregate of 65 pounds of “Why the hell would you do that?” wandering my house right now that says you’re wrong.
The BeerCast – Have we reached peak beer?
The closures of the late-80′s and late 90′s took a couple of chunks out of the brewery progression, but the smaller rate of closures since has been steamrollered by the flurry of openings since the turn of this decade. Just last week, at the Glasgow Real Ale Festival, the brand new Jaw Brewery made a small launch of their beers, becoming (to my records) the eighty-ninth brewery in Scotland (81 production, 8 contractees). At this rate of expansion, we’ll have hit the three figure mark before 2017. 100 Scottish breweries. It’ll happen.
But, is it too much? Will this graph start to flatten out, or even begin to dip the other way? Probably; it’s pretty much inevitable following a period of sustained increase.
You may look at the last two stories and wonder if the end is nigh? I’ve made my own thoughts pretty clear on that matter but it’s always worth remembering the old adage, “Markets can remain irrational a lot longer than you and I can remain solvent.” In other words, there’s probably a few years still to run on this bad boy and any ‘correction’ – to bastardise the term completely – will likely take out the more mediocre entrants in the market, not the brands we all love. It might even be a good thing.
Boak & Bailey’s Beer Blog – The Launch and Sinking of a Flagship
In the 1950s, Whitbread, like many other breweries, were desperate to revive enthusiasm for the public house — to show that it could be part of modern life alongside satellites, pop music and trendy coffee bars, and wasn’t just a quaint relic of a bygone time.
They commissioned architects T.P. Bennett & Son to design a brand new pub which wouldn’t look out of place alongside the planned housing estates and brutalist office blocks which were appearing across the post-Blitz capital.
Bennett came up with a multi-storey block with a curved frontage which looked like anything but a pub — a department store, perhaps?
Ninkasi obtained federal trademark registration for the name “Pints for a Cause” on October 1, 2013. The name is registered in the goods and services class for “charitable fundraising services by means of selling goods to raise funds.” Ninkasi claims it first used the name in commerce in October, 2011… It’s Ninkasi’s standard procedure to “personally call” to discuss potential trademark infringement issues and seek alternate solutions, says AAsum, who notes “more times than not these are friendly conversations that end positively and are a great nod to the spirit of our industry.”
Yet, that is not what happened here.
Bear Flavored – Why We Should Take Beer Styles Less Seriously
I have nothing against the concept of beer styles. Sometimes life needs simplicity and guideposts. We need styles, and we like to argue about styles; I just think we often place far too much emphasis on them. Especially from a consumer standpoint, it’s very important to have at least a broad guideline, a rough sketch of what I’m going to drink. It doesn’t have to be a classic style; it can be a little blurb, a few descriptive words… When I pick up a bottle and there’s no style or description at all, nothing but a cute name and a government warning, I become so annoyed that I will almost never buy that beer. Give me at least an idea of what the beer is — however you want to do that. That’s what styles are for: guidelines, shorthand, a marker to let you know how close you are to town. And as long as we’re not taking things too seriously, I think it mostly works out.
My thoughts exactly. Having said that, the next three links are all about specific beer styles.
Appellation Beer – Grodziskie available here
When they took over Fortuna, founded 125 years ago, little more than three years ago sales had shrunk to 10,000 hectoliters a year. They don’t generally talk about production figures but it seems they are on track to sell six to eight times that in 2014. Before we went to Miloslaw, I asked homebrewers about Fortuna and they said the beers tasted of iron — the flavor, some say of blood, you get when you put a penny in your mouth. They need to taste the beers again. Almost bit of equipment involved in the brewing process has been cleaned up or replaced.
I have no idea if these guys will succeed selling a style of beer that died a natural death, but it’s pretty clear that what they make will be well brewed.
Called to the Bar – Imbibe Lager
Lager. I cannot believe that anyone who thinks and drinks beer and clinks their glass in the pursuit of a higher kind of lifestyle can believe that lager is just — to paraphrase a legion of people, a battalion of self-knowing buzzards, who perhaps also believe that Germans are not very nice and that the sun is a colony of lizards — yellow fizz; the idiocy of this position, the simplicity and the laughable lack of knowledge about lager is something that has always bugged me, something that has almost, you could say, haunted me from the time when I started writing about beer. I can hear the words rattle like Marley’s chains, ‘I don’t like lager, it’s yellow fizz, full of chemicals, foreign rubbish, and anyway doesn’t following the bear lead to cancer (or at least the annexation of the Crimea)?’
A perfect example of something I mentioned last week. Lager, unloved by the buzzards but still important and greatly enjoyable when executed well.
Belgian Smaak – How Malheur Brewery created ‘Champagne-style’ beer
Michael Jackson and an American friend paid a visit to Malheur on one of their trips to Belgium. Over a beer, Jackson casually asked Manu what his ultimate dream in brewing might be. Manu replied that he wanted to make a beer like they make Champagne in France.
“Why don’t you do it?” asked Jackson.
“I have no customers for that”, was Manu’s commercially aware response.
Jackson’s American friend piped up – “I’ll take your first container”. He was a Belgian beer fanatic, a member of his own Belgian beer club in the States, and hungry for something new.
“Ok”, smiled Manu. “I’ll start production”. And so it began.
Other highlights were:
- Crafty Pint – Good Beer Week ’15 Dates
- Australian Brews News – CUB launch new Crown Golden Ale
- Stone & Wood – Limited Release – Cloud Catcher (plenty of people seem pretty excited)
- The Beer Blog – Census Bureau reports brewery growth
Anything I missed?