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Archive for April, 2009

Beverage Daily has started a series where they are looking into the potential of craft beer in various markets in Europe. I haven’t had the time to analyze this properly, but it seems to me to be some confusion concerning terms here. Using a local or regional brand name does not necessarily mean craft.

I’ll come back to this when they publish further articles in the series, but it seems to me that the beer industry organisation Brewers of Europe tries to cover up what is a very basic conflict of interest – between the global players and the genuine craft breweries.

The BOE says that while small brewers can provide a good image of quality local products, big brewers can play up their reputation on a much more global basis, ensuring there was no interest in competing with the smaller brands.

If you want to produce and sell a billion liters of Heineken, you would want to compete with any brand, large or small.

A real small scale brewer

A real small scale brewer

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For new readers

The increasing number of visitors show that some of you readers are new around here. Note that there are blog posts going back several years, covering most member states in the European Union as well as a few others.

There are good beers to be found almost everywhere, but it might take some patience, research and planning ahead.

Some of the posts are on my old motime blog. I think both the layout and the spelling has improved slightly.

Cities visited include:

Stockholm

plan b, Copenhagen

plan b, Copenhagen

Gothenburg

Copenhagen

Berlin

Munich

Paris

Brussels

London (many times)

Cardiff

Glasgow

Manchester

Dublin

Belfast

Vienna

Bratislava

Prague

Limassol

Athens

Sofia

Amsterdam

The Hague

Parma

Milan

Bologna

Riga

Budapest

and Helsinki.

What’s missing?

Belgium outside Brussels.

Bamberg.

The Iberian peninsula – though I doubt I would find much there.

Russia – luckily we have friends who will move to Moscow this summer.

Poland, Lithuania and Estonia.

Iceland

img_0351

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Some of the new beers to be launched at the Copenhagen Beer Festival 15-17 May are revealed, many thanks to beerticker.dk for this information. I even nicked the illustration from there.

 

From Mikkeller: Festival Special Edition 2009 – Stella 0, Jordbær (Strawberry) Lambic, Imperial Tart Frambozen Stout, Imperial Sour Kriek, Calvados Barrel Aged Barley Wine, Single Hop Nugget IPA, Tjekket Pilsner. And that’s just the new beers…

There is a BrewDog Mikkeller collaboration – Devine Rebel, a 12,1% Barley Wine. James and Martin from BrewDog will be present at the festival.

Nøgne ø will introduce their Le Vanilla Framboise Porter, Tyttebær and Sunturnbrew as well as a return of Dark Horizon 1st edition, said to be in top form now…

Want more? They expect 1000 beers at the festival.

I will only be there on the Saturday, so I’ll miss some of the highlights.

I hope to see many of you there – any visitors from the British Isles this year?

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So then. I have squeezed as many blog posts out of our trip to England as possible. Just one more thing. There was actually good beer to be had at the airport.

For various reasons, I usually travel via Heathrow Terminal 3 to and from London. Could be the SAS loyalty card, mostly because of the convenience of the SAS schedule between Oslo and London. It is certainly not because of the beer, at best there are a few bottled bitters at inflated prices.

This time our flight home was from Gatwick’s South terminal. The check in was speedy enough, the security took ages – and then we were in the quite spacious international departures lounge. The usual chain stores – Harrods, Dixon’s, W.H.Smith’s, you know.

But there is also a Wetherspoons pub, The Flying Horse. The wooden decor is a bit out of place, but the cask ale was genuine enough. Six ales on hand pump, including a fine Exmoor Gold.

There are strong views on Wetherspoon’s. Some won’t set foot in them, others are quite happy to get new scoops at decent prices. They are actively promoting ale, even having special ales brewed for their festivals. Sure, they may squeeze out more traditional pubs on the High Street, but in a place like this, I think a chain concept like this works very well. And it does not attract the assortment of smelly old men you tend to see in some of the land side pubs.

But if you want to stick to principles, there is another option. Among the other watering holes there was  one with a sign promising cask London Pride.

So, it you plane is delayed, things are not totally bleak.

The Flying Horse

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I have written about The Gunmakers Arms before. As regular readers of the beer blogsphere will know, it is run by Jeff, blogging as Stonch.

I brought my family over for lunch when we were in London after our Manchester adventures. Jeff was not in, but we had a wonderful meal.

A fairly extensive menu, including soup, pasta and various meat dishes, but we decided to go for the seafood and vegetarian food on offer.

Pan-fried salmon, stuffed tomatoes,  portobello mushrooms with cheese. I had the moulles frites, though the rest of the family seemed to view the chips as a communal dish. Lemonade for the boys, a glass of red wine, a pint of Landlord for me.

Gastro? No, but honest food cooked to order and not dressed up pretending to be something else. Good and friendly service, too, though there should have been one more person helping out while we were there.

It does not come cheap when your kids want proper meals instead of fast food, but we find this a wise investment.

The rest of the menu

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I was checking the beer shelves of my local Vinmonopolet shop on my way home from work the other day, when I overheard a conversation between one of the staff and a customer. Both were ladies in their fifties, and the customer needed some guidance, as she wanted to buy a beer as a present. She had picked a bottle of wine, but she wanted a nice beer as well.

The looked at some Belgian beers, clearly finding this task overwhelming. Some snippets of the conversation:

-This one is a Trappist, I don’t know about the other one.

-I don’t really know anything about beer.

-My colleague is the beer specialist here, and he is not in today.

I intervened and helped the lady select an Ardenne Blond from Haandbryggeriet, a nice beer unlikely to offend anyone.

The staff at the Vinmonopolet stores are, to a large extent, paid to mill arond among the customers giving advice. I believe they have more or less the same number of employees per shop as when everything was kept behind the counter and they had to fetch every bottle. Now most of the shops are self service so we do the carrying ourselves. In the store in question they had already cleared the shelves for the new arrivals that will go on sale 2 May, so they are clearly not too pressed for time.

Strong beer has been sold in the Vinmonopolet shops for around 30 years. The lady in question has probably been working in the system as long. Is it too much to ask that she gets some basic knowledge about this type of goods?

I am sure she can give excellent advice on which Chablis you should serve with your shellfish.

An alternative way of selling beer

An alternative way of selling beer

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The summer holidays this year will be spent in Sardinia, but there is always a horizon of summers yet to come.

The Reluctant Scooper has alerted me on twitter to an article in the Guardian about a pub crawl. It takes place in the Yorkshire Dales and covers 61 miles and 23 pints in five days.

It is probably this kind of beer travel I should focus on as I grow older.

Photo nicked from the Kings Arms Hotel.

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