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Archive for January, 2008

I’m not that fond of the Marston’s beer range, they are generally too much on the safe side for me. I have to commend them on their inventive use of the bottle cap to make a statement, though.

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Enough for a party

Some of us go for beer quality, though there may be one or two too many on occation. Others prefer quantity at any time, but there are government regulations making this awkward.

Two men from the central part of Norway (where I hail from as well) tried to cross the border from Sweden with 1828,5 litres of German beer. Unfortunately the car looked a wee heavy, so the customs officers decided to check it a bit closer.

The thirsty offenders were no teenagers, but were aged 35 and 40. One of them denied any knowledge of the beer in the back of the car. (Not too convincing, considering the fact that they must have driven at least a thousand kilometers with the beer!)

Based on earlier cases, the two men are facing 30-90 days in jail.

This story is from Adresseavisen.

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I told you recently about a beer festival in Vienna in the middle of May. If that does not suit you – if you live on another continent, for example, there is an event in Washington, D.C. which sounds nice:

The (US) Brewers Association is planning an ambitious beer-food showcase to take place May 16-17 in Washington at the Mellon Auditorium. “Savor: An American Craft Beer & Food Experience” will feature beers from 48 American breweries paired with tapas-size portions of foods chosen to complement those beers.

Tickets are 85$ per session, including food and beer, and they will be available from 4 February. The beer list is not ready yet.

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Budweiser brewer Anheuser-Busch has reportedly approached Scottish & Newcastle (S&N) about helping it wrest control of Baltic Beverage Holdings (BBH) from Carlsberg.

How kind of them. Only there to help.

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More from Italy

While I am trying to fit in some hours in Bologna on my next trip to Italy, I read an interesting post from the Beer Nut, who has visited Venice. He omits the bridges and gondolas to focus on the beers he has encountered, and he managed to find some interesting craft beers there as well. As I’ve told you before, there are splendid beers to be found in Italy, but it takes time and stubbornness to get them!

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If you look carefully among the stories about beer prices going through the roof  and the Asheville Citizen-Times coverage of Man’s ear bitten off in fight over beer, there are some good signs, too.

I have been making snide remarks about the Guardian’s coverage of beers and brewers, so I have to give credit to their sister publication the Observer when they have decent articles, too.

The good news is that the sales of ale in British supermarkets are increasing, while the sales of lagers are going down. New figures show that last year sales of ale in UK supermarkets grew by 6.6 per cent while sales of lager slipped by 0.2 per cent. 

Tesco has increased its selection of ales from 50 to 200 while Marks & Spencer recently launched a range of conditioned beers. ‘The growth in popularity of real ale in the last few years has been absolutely spectacular, with the greatest accolade being that it has finally started to achieve its holy grail of winning over a younger audience,’ said Ian Targett, Tesco’s beer and lager buyer.

But there is more. With all the reports of the pubs and brewers having a steep decline in business, you would thing this is a sector where everything is declining. It turns out that the smaller actors are doing fine:

A decision by the government to introduce a ‘progressive beer duty’ policy that allows small breweries to pay less duty has led to the creation of 84 new UK micro-breweries that might otherwise have struggled to remain in business, according to Camra.

‘A taste for ale is something we’ve also started to see on trade sales,’ said Owen Morris, spokesman for Camra. ‘Although overall sales of beer are in decline, sales of independent brewers are up 7.5 per cent. People are finding real ale is an artisan product and are starting to care more about taste, not value. They’re not so interested in supermarkets selling two crates of lager for the price of one.’

There is not much of an consistent ideology in this blog, if there is one, it would be small is beautiful. So I salute the Observer on a dreary rainy winter morning for bringing a ray of light!

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It was Stonch who sent me to this one, in a comment to an earlier post he told me there are two good pubs in Hackney, East London. (I’ll get back to you about the other one).

The reason I went to Hackney was the Pig’s Ear beer festival in December, otherwise I would hardly have found my way there. It’s a bit out of the way, not being served by an Underground line, but there are trains and buses.

Judging by the facade, the Pembury Tavern has been there a long time, in a purpose built building. It is just five minutes from the railway station – actually I think it is five minutes from two railway stations.

The pub is bright and airy, so even if it’s been on the spot for a long time, it looks very new. (It says on their web site that it was completely redone after a fire, so that’s the explaination) It is bright and airy, not the place if you want stuffed kangaroos and framed photos from WWI and II. There is a lunch menu with lighter items and a very comprehensive evening menu, which implies that this part of London is moving upmarket, there are farmhouse cheeses, pigeon and four different gourmet sausages.

No music at lunchtime, a friendly and laid-back atmosphere. Free wifi, with several customers tapping away at their laptops while enjoying their pints.

8 cask ales on, which meant 6 beers from the Milton brewery and 2 guest ales for various micros. A large blackboard tells me about a fine range of Belgian and German beers, too, and there are even single malts at 3.50 per double measure, which is a nice deal.

I tried a Milestone Lion’s Pride, a beer with a pronounced hoppiness but not enough to lift it above the crowds. I only had time for one of the Milton beers, the Augustus. A full malty ale with a nice hoppy finish. A quite fruity beer – well composed and well balanced.

I don’t know if I will spend several hours to get to this pub, but if I am in the area, I will make sure to get there.

Ot their web site they say without modesty:

Since we opened in January 2006, we’ve sold beers from 3 Rivers, All Gates, Arran, Arundel, Batemans, Beartown, Belhaven, Black Country Ales, Blackfriars, Blakemere, Brewsters, B&T, Buntingford, Burton Bridge, Butcombe, Cairngorm, Caledonian, Carlow, Castle Rock, Clarks, Cottage, Crouch Vale, Cwmbran, Dark Star, Downtown, Elland, Evans, Everards, Exe Valley, Fenland, Fox, Front Street, Fyne Ale, Gales, Glastonbury, Grainstore, Great Oakley, Hampshire, Hart, Hidden, Highgate, Highwood, Hopback, Hydes, Iceni, Isle of Purbeck, Jarrow, John Joule & Sons, Lees, Marston Moor, Matthews, Mauldons, Milestone, Milton, Moor, Moorhouses, Nethergate, Northern Brewing, Northumberland, Nottingham, Oakham, Ossett, Otley, Otter, Potton, Robinsons, Rudgate, Rugby, Saffron, Saltaire, Shepherd Neame, Shugborough, Skinners, Slaters, Smiles, Son of Sids, Springhead, Stonehenge, Titanic, Tower, Tring, Ushers, Vale, White Horse, Woodfordes, Wychwood, Wyre Piddle, York.

I need to relocate! (Note: the bottom photo is from their web site, the others are mine.)

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