I don’t read many beer books. As a matter of fact, I buy slightly more beer books than I actually read. I interact a fair bit with other beer bloggers, but I don’t even read them as systematically as I did. The demise of Google reader is partly to blame.
Archive for the ‘beer books’ Category
I had serious ambitions about doing live blogging while in Belgium, but the schedule did not really allow for that. It was only on the plane back that I really felt able to sit down and think through it all. So, yes, there will be some impressions from our brewery visits, less on the beer cafés, a bit about beer tourism and so on.
And to make this perfectly clear once again, I travelled to Belgium with seven other Scandinavian beer writers. We were guests of Visit Flanders, the Flemish tourist promotion office. I am not obliged to praise everything I experienced, and I will give my honest impressions to the best of my abilities. But it was really an adventure. So stay tuned.
What we saw were contrasts, even among the small scale breweries we visited. The deeply traditional, the passionately local, the exclusively organic, the scientifially based, the beers that came back from the dead and the rock ‘n’ roll brewers that take their show on the road. And these people have stories to tell. Maybe traditional television goes the way of printed newspapers. But I hope someone records the thoughts of the people we met on this trip, it would be another way of protecting the heritage.
A side note: If you want to visit Belgium, do it now. If they had figured out what to do with Brussels, the Belgian state would probably be gone already.
If you want to see the coverage my colleagues have from the trip, you will find them here:
I’ve recommended BBC Radio 4s Food Programme before. They cover a very broad range of topics connected with food – and beverages also get their share. A week ago, the programme was about hops. This year, the topic is cider. Broad coverage of Pete Brown‘s new book on the topic, but also interviews with producers great and small.
It is fun to listen to a representative from Bulmer’s trying to avoid a question about mandatory information on the label stating how much apple juice there is in the beverage.
It is the same discussion that we have in the beer world – when the giants of the industry talk about quality, they mean a consistent product that does not vary with raw materials, seasons or anything else. Therefore, the truckloads of corn syrup outside their factories are there for you.
Where I work, in the health sector, we talk about quality as well. The term is used when we discuss how many patients have died or haven’t received the proper treatment or care.
Maybe we should avoid using the q word?
Meanwhile, back at the BBC, Pete even gets to taste a dry hopped cider.
The Food Programme is conveniently available as a podcast.
If you thought the British beer scene was all quiet pints and cobwebbed pubs, you obviously do not follow Melissa Cole’s blog.
She did not like what BrewDog has to say about other british brewers in a recently published book, feeling that BrewDog owes the industry as a whole a bloody enormous apologyy. It wasn’t exactly a big surprise that they don’t feel the same way.
Looks like James is able to stock up on new anecdotes to use when doing Meet the brewer tours.
And we also don’t work for Satan.
As my regular readers know, I have a particular fascination for Berlin. A city for all seasons, a city for contemplation and for amusement. A city where I can get by with my rusty German. The beery delights may not be as evident to the casual observer as in other German cities, but they are there.
A guidebook to the brews and bars of Berlin is therefore very handy, and the format of Cogan & Mater’s Around xxx in 80 Beers is just the thing.
The author, Peter Sutcliffe, is a British civil servant with a solid knowledge of the Berlin scene, an ideal gude.
The book covers bars great and small, smoke filled Kneipen and airy beer gardens, restaurants and small stalls. The style is personal without being too private.
The concept of this series of books is a positive one, it gives recommendations without wasting space on places to stay away from. (I try to have a similar outlook in this blog) That does not mean it is uncritical, there are beers mentioned that are judged as uninteresting, too sweet etc. But there is at least one pick for every bar included.
Most of the brewpubs of the city are in there, and there is also a fine range of regional restaurants and bars offering beer from the rest of Germany. There are handy maps and indexes, and each entry has details about U-bahn stops etc. There is also a useful introduction to German beer styles and a suggested pub crawl route.
Anything missing? Well, there are a few bars in Friedricschain I have covered that could have been included. But the book is highly recommended. And I have one place I’ll seek out at the first opportunity: The Rollberg micro set up in the old Berliner Kindl brewery.
We stayed at Hot-el-apartments Canon Court, close to the Botanical gardens. Our two bedroom apartment was very comfortable for four, and it is convenient to be able to cook, have a fridge for drinks and breakfast and a TV with dvd player. There are several buses into central Edinburgh, but it is only fifteen or twenty minutes walk.
There are four real ale pubs in the area, two are two minutes away, the other two less than ten minutes. There is even an off licence with an incredible range of German beers if you want some alternatives to the Scottish maltiness. I’ll get back to that.
I wonder why it’s taken me thirty years to get back to Edinburgh. It’s a beautiful city. The dark stone dominates, and it certainly has its share of churches. But the fresh snow softens the edges, and the sound of coral practices drift out of the doors.
Many pubs are off limits to teenagers, others are packed with Christmas shoppers. I manage to pop into a few, but there are plenty more to try on a repeat visit.
As usual, the maps on ratebeer are good research tools, but I’d also like to recommend a guide book. Bob Steele wrote a very good guide to London pus a few years ago. Fresh this year is Edinburgh Pub Walks, which covers the city and its surroundings in a very comprehensive way, you’d probably need a month to get through all of them. I’ve said it before – CAMRA needs to wake up and do some more marketing of their publications – review copies to bloggers would be a wise place to start.
During a lunchtime hour I visited two pubs, both recommended both for the beer range and for their beautiful interiors.
Tiles, has, well, tiles. An island bar, with everything from floor to ceiling covered with glazed tiles. Classy.
The beer is Houston Jock Frost. An hones British bitter, malty with a hint of yeast, subtle bitter finish. Nothing remotely seasonal about the flavour, but I suppose you ahve to do something to make your pump clip stand out.
The Abbotsford is close by, on a pedestrianized street. It has a classic island bar, lots of brass and mahogany. Tiles here, too, but in the ceiling. Polite service, a broad range of beers. Even hefeweisssen from the West brewery in Glasgow on tap. This is not overloaded with Christmas ornaments or tinned music. Just friendly chatter and laughs from people taking a break from their Christmas shopping.
I try a stout – Thick Black from Devon Ales. It is a very rich beer, for once the name describes the contents. Smoke, roasted grain, burned bread crust, pumpernickel. A bit of a sour edge drags it down a little, I am not convinced it is intended.