Archive for January 3rd, 2008

Those who want a beer without having to dry clean their clothes and wash their hair the next day have an increasing list of countries to choose from in Europe. Both France and Portugal have banned smoking in bars and cafes from January first.

The list now includes Belgium,  Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. To this you should add half of the German Länder (and a Swiss canton for good measure).

The cry has been This will never work here in country after country. But a measure of how timely this legislation is can be seen in Italy. It seems to this observer it is the only law they actually follow. Even in Sicily.

Who’s next? The Dutch?

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Kieran blogs from New Zealand, and he has tasted the first bottles of Special London Ale that are labeled Somewhere in the sticks and not The Ram Brewery. His verdict:

I say Special London Ale used to present a striking hop character as I picked up a bottle yesterday, the first to be marked Bedford, perhaps they have run out of tankered beer from London to blend or have just used up the old labels, and it was a very different beast. It looked like the Special London Ale of old, it smelt like the Special London Ale of old, but on the palate a sweet malt accented beer was revealed with very little bitterness. Where did the IBUs go?!

He has made some pickled eggs, too.

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Ji-biru in the LA Times

The Los Angeles Times has an article on Japanese craft beer that you might enjoy.

And if you think beer blogging is a peculiar niche, they directed me to a guy who blogs about noodle soup. Rickmond Wong is the Rameniac.

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Just in from the Morning Advertiser:

On-trade beer volumes fell in November 2007 by a mighty 9.7% in year-on-year terms, according to an analyst. Mark Brumby, of Blue Oar Securities.

He reports that the beer volumes drop in October was 7.7%, whilst September fell by 8.2%. In August – where the weather normalized after three very poor months – volume was down ‘only’ 2.5%. Brumby said: “Beer volumes have moved up only once – April 06 – in the last two years.

“In November, all categories fell, there was nowhere to hide.

“Premium ale was down 6.9%, standard ale down 9.6%, standard lager down 10.4%, premium lager down 8.3% and stout down 10.6%.”

On the other hand, I was there in December, which will improve the figures slightly. More seriously, it will be interesting to see how this affects the various companies – both the brewers and the pub estates. Fuller’s have reported good results, but think how a 10,6% reduction in stout volume affects one brewer that has not bothered to diversify….

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I was looking for something else when I stumbled across a reference to a concept in Glasgow that has been successful enough to be exported to London: A Pint, a Pie and a Play. (There is even a more elaborate version called Dinner, Drama and a Dram!)

I suspect there are places in Glasgow where you get drama without the entrance fee, but that is beside the point.

I was not able to find out much about the pints on offer – I suspect the beer reference is used to lure unsuspecting drinkers into the world of high culture.

One of the plays in the series is called Being Norwegian, so I obviously had to look up a review. Sounds like they have hit the usual grains of truth stereotypes:

Lisa was born in Trondheim and talks constantly, helplessly even, about her homeland. She describes how people situate their sofas opposite a window so they can trace the sky’s changes, how they don’t watch much television but “talk very gently to each other”, how in winter they hibernate. “Being Norwegian,” she assures Sean as he dims the lights, “we know how to live with the dark.”

The author, David Greig, appears to be quite interested in places outside Scotland, and he seems to be writing lots of serious stuff, like Cosmonaut’s Last Message to the Woman He Once Loved in the Former Soviet Union. But, being born in Trondheim, I can assure you that he does not have a clue on how they place their sofas up there. But it’s probably a metaphor. Or something. Let’s hope the pies are nice.

Softly directed by Roxana Silbert, Greig’s play proves as warming as the pie. Barely 45 minutes long, it speaks tenderly of loneliness, nostalgia, the desperate longing to connect and that misfit feeling that no one quite knows where you are coming from.

Did they give you a hard time in Trondheim, David?

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