Archive for August, 2008

I will not be updating the blog for the forseeable future.

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Murder in the brewery

I’ve been meaning to write more about beer in popular culture, fiction, books and music. There is a lovely book by Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark, which is somewhere in a box with the rest of my SF and fantasy paperbacks. There are the Nero Wolfe books by Rex Stout, where the hero is dependent on his daily intake of brown ale. These books are also stacked away, and I never seem to find time to open them.

Colin Dexter’s hero Inspector Morse is a more current beer lover, well known from both the books and several TV series. I bought Series 4 for a particular episode, The Sins of the Father.

I won’t give away the plot, which is not, as far as I can see, based on any of the books. This means that it lacks a bit compared to the best of Dexter’s storytelling, but there is some brilliant dialogue here.

The story is centered on a brewery, which has been a family operation for 150 years, and where the owning family is a caricature of British snobbishness. There is a hostile takeover bid from a larger brewery, and the head of the family and manager of the brevery is found murdered.

Morse arrives at their house, and is met by the butler:

-May I have your name, sir? Rank?

-I’ts important, is it?

-I have to announce you!

A Morse/Lewis interchange:

-The body was found at the bottom of a vat.

-Sounds like a good way to go..

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Just kidding. Light bottles.

I have moaned over the back-breaking job it is to get beer into this country in my suitcase, and some of the English breweries are the worst when it comes to heavy bottles.

Adnams has a new beer out. It is nice and fruity with a little dry chocolate in the tail, definitely a session beer packed with flavour for 4%.

But what caught my eye was the tiny print at the bottom of the back label. Beneath the stärkøl/cerveza/pivo list.

Less glass in a bottle is more environmentally friendly. We have reduced our bottle weight by 33%.

I salute Adnams, I find it more interesting to fill my suitcase with beer than with glass. Let’s just hope they are strong enough!


Adnams is not alone in this, according to the Beverage Daily.

UK-based retailer the Co-operative has announced it is launching lighter weight glass packaging for its own-brand beers as it moves to extend its focus on more sustainable beverage packaging.

The company has announced that its 500ml private brand ale products will come in 300g glass bottles that are 22 per cent lighter than those previously used to package beer.

The weight reduction policy is expected to significantly cut annual carbon emissions required to produce the brands, according to the group.

Last month, the Co-operative claimed that it has become the first retailer in the UK to supply its entire line of own-brand soft drinks in 100 per cent recycled Polyethylene terephthalate (rPET)-derived bottles.

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Update: Carlsberg has canceled the promotion after the reactions.

Carlsberg could be facing a mass boycott by Liverpool pubs and football fans over a controversial giveaway promotion in The Sun newspaper, according to the Publican.

Licensees and supporters are stunned the drinks company, which sponsors Liverpool Football Club, has linked up with the newspaper, much-hated on Merseyside, for an upcoming bank holiday free pint giveaway in 13,000 pubs.

Many fans still refuse to buy The Sun because of its highly controversial coverage of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster in which 96 Liverpool fans died.

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The Norwegian (Dutch-owned) supermarket chain ICA is going down the drain, with market shares, shops and money evaporating. Their local branch isn’t up to much, either, but there had been a minor revolution on their beer shelves while I was on holiday.

They now stock a range of beers from both Nøgne ø and Haandbryggeriet, including the  new Bavaria weisse. Their imports used to be standard pale lagers, but they have now added Fuller’s London Pride and Discovery, Harviestoun’s Bitter and Twisted and a few others. The prices are outrageous, but we’ll just have to hope for a price war later on..

The photo was taken with my phone, more for documentation than for artistic merit, I have to say..

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A few new links

These had slipped under my radar. There is a lot of good beer wring out there those days.

Tandleman describes himself as a veteran beer lover, CAMRA Chairman and activist, beer author, beer reviewer and pursuer of all things good in beer. He lives in the North West of England. I particularly enjoyed his posts from the GBBF.

The beer boy, or Zak Avery, Leeds, England, organizes tastings and events and writes about beer.

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One month to go until the big European beer festival in Copenhagen, 12-14 September. Looks like I’ll be attending on the Friday and Saturday, getting an evening flight home on the 13th.

The list of exhibitors is long, and, while there will probably be desperate measures taken to get hold of more limited goodies, (Nøgne ø will be launching their Dark Horizon II as well as a version of their Christmas beer with added spruce shoots and lingonberries!), there should be ample possibilities for more leisurely sipping as well. You’ll probably have the opportunity to try out most of the 100 Danish breweries, but there are also plenty of imports from around the globe.

For once I’ve got a freebie connected to the blog, I got press accreditation.

So, who else is coming? When are you arriving? Where are you staying? Maybe some of us could meet up for lunch somewhere on Friday before the mayhem breaks loose?

Danish lunch menu

Danish lunch menu

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Seen from Northwestern Europe, as I tend to do, the Northern end of Croatia seems to be on the periphery of the continent. The Balkans is sort of halfway to India. Looking at the map, this is really at the crossroads of Europe, just a few hours drive from the big cities of Northern Italy, Austria or Bavaria.

And our holiday resort is the global, or at least the European, village for real. 1000? 3000? people. Some in apartments, some in more upscale villas, some in tents at the camping site.

No sandy beaches here, take your pick from pebbles or concrete. The guys collecting the fees for the sun beds are doing a roaring trade.

Nordics, Dutch, Austrians, Germans, Italians, Russians, Croatians, Czechs, Slovenians, Swiss. They come from all over, except the British Isles, Spain or Portugal.

They raise children, eat, drink and shop in dozens of languages. The locals have the big advantage of being multilingual. Croatian and Italian are both official languages here, and most adults speak a polite German, too.

It is quite all right. The water is salty and clean. The ice cream is of Italian quality at 50 cents a scoop. Great calamari and fish, fine pizzas and good coffee. The land is fertile with a rich choice of fruit, berries and vegetables.

But the noise from this European community is a bit much after midnight in the apartments without air conditioning. We get an upgrade to one of the newer villas for a decent price.

The beer?

Not very exciting. The bars around here mostly have the local lager on tap, Favorit. It is a fairly standard light lager, it will never win any contests, but is does its job after a day in the sun. There are a dozen light and dark lagers as well, some of them from the neighbouring countries. A few more can be found in the town center, but there are no shops or bars with an impressive selection.

I don’t see any pubs as such, it’s more of the Italian bar style with a focus on coffee and shots of stronger stuff. There are wine bars, too, the rest are pastry/ice cream shops and eateries on a scale from the more humble tavernas to the most prestigious restaurants with truffles and seafood.

No birra artiginale, no brew pubs. Sure, within an hours drive there are places to be found, but not here.

But there is one award – five glittering silver stars – to be handed out, to the Konzum supermarket in the Stella Maris holiday complex where we are staying. They have three bottled beers from the Carlow brewery, including a stout, and no Guinness. That is an extraordinary achievement!

I’ll go more into the most interesting beers over the coming days.

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Back on the treadmill

I had prepared a few posts with delayed publishing over the last few weeks, so the casual observer may have thought that I was here in Norway waiting for winter to arrive.


We went to Croatia for two weeks of sun. A very convenient destination for Norway, less than three hours flight. A new country for me, with lot of things to see and do – perfect for just doing nothing, too.

So, get to the point, how was the beer? I’ll share that over the next few weeks, so you’ll just have to be patient. I can reveal that it is somewhere between Cyprus and Belgium on the beerometer.

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A potential market

I read in the Guardian that of the 10.7 billion pints of beer sunk in the UK each year, only 13 per cent are drunk by women. Coors UK plans to change that with new beers and elegant half pint glasses.

In 1970 beer was two-thirds of the drinks market as men filed out of the factory gates and into the pub, but that figure is now closer to 40 per cent.

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