Drunken Speculation

MR | Third Edition, July 2014 – With apologies to Nail

220px-Blur_thegreatescapeLast week on Drunken Speculation, I put up a guide to growler filling spots in Brisbane. The feedback was so positive I’m planning a sequel for greater Brisbane, which might follow after 4 Hearts open their new pub.

We actually did stuff too last week. On Thursday, we hit up the Brewhouse for the Ekim Brewing Sniff & Sip. That range of beers is only getting better and the food was superlative. On Saturday, the Scratch hosted Weekend of Darkness, a celebration of big black beers. More imperiality than Caesar crossing the Rubicon.

My self-imposed let-down with the Weekend of Darkness means that Beer of the Week comes from Ekim Brewing Co with The Vinlander. When I first tried it during Brewsvegas, I thought it was tasty but quite gritty and grainy. This version was the perfect American porter, a smooth balance of sweet malts and roast bitterness.

To the Tweet(s) of the Week!

I’ve had a bit of a bee in my bonnet about Clout Stout, the expensive – $80 to $100 for a 750mL bottle depending on where you go – imperial stout from WA brewers Nail Brewing. I couldn’t see why it would be two or three times the price of comparable imperial stouts (e.g. Mornington Peninsula, Sierra Nevada). I cynically assumed that there was a massive markup just to take the piss.

While the release is limited to 800 bottles, I still don’t see why that would matter. In beer consistency and replication are king, so unlike wine where the grapes vary from year to year and region to region, you would expect a degree of consistency in malt and water supplies, so the decision to limit a run of beer is entirely the brewery’s.

But, thanks to Glen’s input, it’s clear that there’s a year of barrel-ageing and you, in reality, pay for the Clout Stouts that never were, sparing me the embarrassment of being bitch-slapped by Nail with a media release when I sent the email I had planned. It seems wasteful but it seems the markup isn’t piss-takingly large. Probably more than normal, sure, but as ever, if you want it, you pay for it and if you don’t, you don’t.

So my apologies go to Nail for impugning the pricing structure of Clout Stout. I’ve deleted my original Untappd checkin and re-checked it in with my actual feelings, which are still not particularly positive.

To the best from last week:

Appellation Beer – 2014 hops update

Six years ago we were in the midst of a hop shortage, so farmers in the American Northwest strung about one-third more acres of hops (from 31,000-plus to 41,000-plus acres) than in 2007. A year later they were ripping plants out of the ground. There are about 39,000 acres — including maybe 600 in areas outside of the Northwest — but the mix is much different. In 2008, hops appreciated mostly for high level of alpha acids occupied about two thirds of acres and accounted for three quarters of overall production. Today acreage is just about evenly split and high alpha amounts to 60 percent of production.

Boston Globe – Trappists in Spencer tap monk mystique in launching brewery

But in recent years, the simple monks of Saint Joseph’s Abbey have quietly set about building one of the biggest breweries in the state and the first Trappist brewery on American soil. Their sleek 36,000-square-foot brewery — modeled after multimillion-dollar facilities in Europe— has already made its first commercial batches of Belgian-style ale, which will go on sale next week.

It’s a big change for the monks, but it was a matter of necessity, said Brother Isaac Keeley, director of the brewery.

“In our little monastic economy, expenses were rising more rapidly than our income,” he said, standing in his monk’s robes in a state-of-the-art beer laboratory inside the brewery. “We needed to generate more income.”

Examiner.com – Stone Brewing Co launches ambitious Indiegogo campaign

Donors to this freshly launched campaign, hereafter referred to by Stone as Cross-Planetary Brewing Revolutionaries, will help fund some of the greatest beer-drinking destinations in the world and in the process receive perks of some seriously intense brews from Stone and the craft brew brethren with which Stone has joined forces. The first wave of beers from this newly formed Stone Groundbreaking Collaborations will be a Dogfish Head/Victory/Stone Imperial Royal Saison du BUFF, a Brewdog and Stone SPECIAL bashah, and a Baladin and Stone Super Duper Arrogant. If you know beer, you know that these collaborations and the prospective beers are very serious, groundbreaking stuff.

A $100 million company is asking for donations? Actual private enterprises raising money without debt nor giving up equity – if only charities could be so lucky! There are rewards for donating, ranging from a printable thank you to attending a party at the brewery opening in Berlin, and, I guess from Stone’s point of view, there’s considerably less risk if they find themselves unable to make good on the rewards when compared to what happens if you can’t repay a bank. Plus no interest for them to pay.

Reuters – Japan’s Kirin pushes into craft beer to halt market share slide

Craft beers are predominantly ales and have seen a growing fan base in Japan with many specialist pubs opening in recent years.

They are already big business globally. Kirin subsidiary Lion bought craft beer brewer Little World Beverages in 2012, and sales partner Anheuser-Busch InBev is expanding its craft beer business, Isozaki said.

Kirin plans to set up a wholly owned company in January called Spring Valley Brewery to run the microbreweries and pubs, because a dedicated subsidiary will be able to adapt quickly to changing consumer tastes, Isozaki said.

Beervana – Feeling bookish

In the beer world, we passed around rumors and wives’ tales about history and brewing because there was no way to readily access anything else.  Within a few years, though, information started filtering onto the internet.  Message boards and listservs helped speed the dissemination of those rumors (as well as some good information.)  A decade later, blogs came into their own and more information flooded onto the internet.  Shortly thereafter, the first social media sites started to proliferate.  The iPhone came in 2007, and by the 2010s, we were all using data from maps, review and social media sites, commercial sites, Wikipedia and search engines to seamlessly navigate between the domains of knowledge and those of terrestrial space.

Beerlines – Crown chases lost gold

Answer? Maybe it’s the strength of CUB rival James Squire’s Golden Ale.

Or could it be that CUB has spotted the trend in the UK where ‘golden ales’ are chalking up surprising growth in recent years?

The Guardian quotes Tesco ale buyer Chiara Nesbitt who notes: “Over the last five years ale has made a resounding revival as a flavoursome beer that is now appealing to a younger generation of beer drinkers. Golden ale with its light and refreshing taste is playing a major role in this revival as it is the beer lager drinkers first generally try if they want to switch to ale.

That’s kind of what I think is happening as well. I probably won’t bother trying it though.

I might have a glass of beer – Grunt work

Take-away beer has a long history, of course. Some pubs still have engraved glass panels advertising “Jug & Bottle Dept” or “Family Dept” where containers would be filled. That practice nearly died out, at least round my way; as long as I can remember, pubs have rarely seemed interested in catering for off-sales. And while I will drink cask beer in the pub until the cows come home, it doesn’t respond well to being decanted into a bottle. It loses carbonation going into the bottle, the temperature isn’t low enough to stop it frothing all over the place, it sloshes about while you’re carrying it and you end up with flat beer. Some cask beers are so stunningly good that they even still taste nice after this treatment, but that is the exception rather than the rule.

Shut up about Barclay Perkins – The origins of Oatmeal Stout

Now isn’t that confusing? Rose and Wilson had earlier taken a patent for both Oatmalt and Oatmeal Stout, but only used oatmeal. Given that, I can’t see why Mr. Fraser (presumably of Maclay) could have been granted any sort of patent. But that is exactly what happened. A patent they robustly (but ultimately vainly) tried to uphold.

Max Allen – Message in a bottle

You see, despite 20 years of immoderate drinking and eating at far too many fancy restaurants on far too many junkets, and despite being what my GP rather bluntly describes as “functionally obese”, (thanks for that, doc) it doesn’t appear to be taking a noticeable toll — yet — on my internal functions. My cholesterol, magically, is lower than it was 10 years ago, and my liver function — almost impossibly — is better than it was five years ago.

This wisdom from a wine drinker comes care of beerisyourfriend.

Other highlights were:

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