Drunken Speculation

MR | Second Edition, October 2014

6870304664_ed4f1a1f0b_zLast week on Drunken Speculation, I talked about my attempts to make some mead.

I spent Saturday on a bit of bender (with the Westbender no less), starting at an Oktoberfest-themed house party featuring thirteen kegs of homebrewed beer. Most of the beer was excellent and, to my palate, the equal of many commercial breweries. Once things started to get out of hand, we moved on to Yard Bird, the new Woolly Mammoth, Super Whatnot and finishing at Bosc. Yard Bird could use a bit of work on their tap lineup but the place is super-casual and has good food, so I’m happy. Woolly Mammoth has changed enormously from the American sports bar it used to be but it’d be interesting to see what it’s like when properly busy but it’s certainly not a bad spot to be. The last two just happen to be two of my favourite small bars right now, even if you can’t see anything at Bosc because the lights are too low.

Following on, Beer of the Week this week was brewed at home and for the second week in a row, it’s a Berliner Weisse. Friend of the near-retired Westbender, Craig Daniels, made a raspberry Berliner Weisse for Saturday’s Oktoberfest event and it was amazing. I would pay good cash money for another crack at it but the keg of this well-balanced, clean, refreshing, fruity, mildly sour beer is gone forever.

You can look at it though:

crag daniels raspberry berlinerweisse

Pink beer is almost always good.

To the Tweet of the Week!

I don’t know whether it’s possible to actually, you know, verify this but a pretty cool thought nonetheless.

Here’s the highlights from last week:

Larsblog – Beer judging considered harmful

I don’t mean that all beer judging is harmful all the time, but it’s definitely the case that an education in beer judging can lead people astray. Michael Jackson once explained how scientifically trained brewers used to attack him for the way he described beers. They would come up to him saying he knew nothing about tasting beer, and that the proper terms for describing flavour were words like sulphury, rancid, solvent like, etc. What did he mean by using terms like spicy, floral, seductive? Did he have no education in tasting? To which Jackson’s fantastic reply was “I understand. I will try to do better next time. Do you want me to describe your beer as sulphury, rancid or solvent like?”

Medium – Tight dirndls, heavy beers, and grabby hands: The life of an Oktoberfest waitress

Julia plays den mother and helps each woman learn the ropes at the HB tent, and enforces rules they happily follow; most importantly, that they spend time together during the year. The women meet regularly to have drinks, make dinner, hike in the Alps, and escape for short getaways.
The physically and mentally exhausting nature of the Oktoberfest fortnight requires trust that’s cultivated in familiarity. Each server needs to know she can lean on her fellow team members when she’s endured so many boob ogles, grabby hands, and sawdust-covered blobs on the floor. Worming your way through 10,000 sweaty, beer-swilling revelers 12 hours a day for 16 days straight tests the limits of even the most crowd-loving extrovert.

“Some people go on a pilgrimage [walking] through the Alps from Munich to Italy in order to test their personal boundaries”, said Sonja. “I look at these 16 days like my own yearly experiment. Can I do it? Can I make it? It overwhelms all of your senses and you wonder if you’re capable. But I prove to myself how strong I am.”

Drink Drank – I Think We Need To Clear Something Up

The big boys should have payed more attention to the little guys. Perhaps a smiting was in order. That didn’t happen. Faux craft or krafty happened, and conglomeration—as is the preferred tactic of macro brewing—happened. In any case, most of the actions came a bit too little, a bit too late.

Do you know who the lesson was not lost on?

Those same upstart breweries, who are not so upstart anymore. Those breweries who grabbed onto “craft” and ran with it—Big Craft. They can now afford marketing departments and strategists, and can sway distributors—all through “craft”. This puts them in a unique position, to 1) continue to undermine the macro brewing industry—by using their “craft” credibility; 2) proliferate the “craft” mantra to new breweries and; 3) eat their own young—with warning shots across the bow about lack of quality undermining the industry.

Pete Brown – A cynical attempt to get more readers by writing a blog post tenuously linked to the Great British Bake Off

The next time I met Mary Berry was six months ago, at the presentation of the BBC Food and Farming Awards. Because I was presenting the award for best drinks producer, I was sitting in the front row, two seats down from Jamie Oliver (who was friendly, decent and not at all a knob). Mary Berry arrived and spotted someone she wanted to talk to sitting just behind me, so she came over and leaned heavily on my shoulder as she stretched across to have a conversation. She’s only little, but the conversation carried on for several minutes during which she leant her entire weight on me, and I could do nothing but sit there patiently. At no point did she acknowledge me, apologise or make a joke about the situation. Other than the fact that she was using my shoulder like a crutch, it was like I wasn’t there. When she had finished her chat, she said nothing to me and walked away.

I hear she’s quite direct on the telly. In my limited experience in person, she’s the rudest woman I’ve ever met.

Bloomberg – Legal Marijuana Could Give a Buzz to Beer, says analysts

States that have legalized weed in some form including Colorado also have the highest rates of craft beer production, Stirling said, and some craft brewers have “whole-heartedly embraced the weed counter-culture.” One brewer, Oskar Blues Brewing Co. of North Carolina, indicates on some of its beer cans where they might be punctured in order to turn the can into a bong for smoking cannabis.

A Pew Research center survey published in April shows 75 percent of the population thinks marijuana’s sale and use will eventually be legal nationwide. Legalized weed could also be a boon for restaurant chains including Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. (CMG), Dominos’s Pizza Inc. (DPZ), and Yum! Brands Inc. (YUM), Bernstein said.

“Analysts”, huh? Those guys are never wrong about anything.

back of the ferry – Golden gates

When you look up on line what to do and see in San Francisco, there’s that bridge of course, as well as trams, various piers, and a vibrant outdoor street culture (cafes, bars, etc) in various different quarters of town.  I’m struggling though because I dropped into one of the main tourist districts, Fisherman’s Wharf and its surrounding area, where, quite frankly, they seem devoid of decent pubs.   This obviously causes great consternation, but I am not put off.  The quest for beer is too strong an urge just to give up on.  Luckily just up the road I come across Red Jack Saloon where for my first refreshment of the day I dive into a pint of the local amber Prohibition Beer.  It’s 5% strength and has a distinct orange tang to it, so I know I’m definitely in California.

Back of the Ferry are in the midst of another beer travel series. Contrary to most people’s attempts at writing these experiences up, the gents in Sydney manage to make theirs more than readable.

Crafty Pint – Holgate: A Love Story

Which brings us to now. Fifteen years on from the first beer, their hotel remains their biggest single customer and, despite a solid presence all along the East Coast, their output is a far cry from the biggest of the microbreweries in Australia. That said, plans are in place to build on land adjacent to the hotel, expand the brewery, install more green measures and create a visitor centre where people can learn about beer, brewing and the history of Holgate while sampling beers and take a walk along gangways over the brewery. Hopefully, all this will happen within two years.

Brew Hui – Brew Hui Brews: Best Bitter, v2.0

Knowing all this, it’s easy to understand why base malt generally comprises the vast majority of the grain ‘bill’ in a given recipe – with specialty malt added somewhat-sparingly, and usually for a well-thought-out reason. In the case of the first Best Bitter recipe, Caramalt should only really have made up 5-10% of the total malt bill; instead, I went with 100%.


Knowing what I know now, the v1.0 f*ck-up was inevitable. I didn’t actually stand a chance, because there was never going to be enough fermentable sugars available to make anything resembling beer.  The game was over before it had even begun.

I empathise with the entirety of this post.

Other highlights were:

Anything I missed?

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