Archive for November, 2010

The high road

For the first time in many years, there will be no pre-Christmas visit to London this year. A slight compensation is a few days in Edinburgh in December, a city I haven’t visited for three decades. Not much time for pub crawling, but I’m sure I’ll manage to fit in a few pints.

Recommendations welcome, particularly for family friendly pubs.

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Beer and tomatoes

I am not unwell, just busy doing other things. Hope to be back on a more regular blogging schedule soon.

Meanwhile, a vintage Norwegian ad. From the sixties, I guess.

Vi har da øl i huset

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So. I read about some new brews from a brewery in Scotland  a few beers weeks ago. Some barrel aged stuff again, obviously. With screen printed labels. Strictly limited editions. Pushing all the buttons to get the tickers, the bloggers and the collectors interested.

So I sent off an enquiry, asking if I could possibly get some samples to blog about. The beers were speedily dispatched, but then there was silence.

Last week I received a letter from the customs office of the Norwegian postal service, informing me that I had received a package from Fraserburgh, Scotland, with a sticker saying that there were four bottles of beer inside. The letter was dated ten days earlier, and in strict terms informed me that I had just a few days left to send them an invoice for the contents.

I e-mailed them, politely explaining that this was a gift from the brewery. The reply was that Norwegian customs authorities have rules stating that a private individual may not receive  gifts containing alcohol from companies abroad.

Well. I e-mailed the brewery again, asking for a pro forma invoice, which they quickly sent me, and which I sent on to the postal people.

Then, silence. No acknowledgment that they had received the invoice, no telling me that the package was returned across the cold waters of the North Sea.

Yesterday, I was at my local post office to pick up a package. The queue was quite long, so I had ample opportunities to admire the furnishings and stacks of boxes along the walls. I got my small parcel, and then politely pointed to a larger box on the top shelf.

Does that package possibly have my name on it?

Sure it did.

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Sometimes you read press releases, reprinted by trade publications, that show you

a) why the macro brewers still haven’t got a clue about what to do about declining sales


b) that the professional paid for media often are there for unintended amusement rather than for critical journalism.

It is a short piece, so I’m happy to reprint it in full:

Molson Coors is set to launch a new range of beers in the middle of 2011 aimed at the female market.

 Molson Coors is hoping to bring more female drinkers into the beer category
In a briefing today Molson Coors chief executive Mark Hunter said the new range would be available in both the on and off trade from mid 2011. The UK business is “trailblazing” the range for the company as a whole.

He will be unveiling details of the range early in 2011 and admitted “we are talking to a number of major on-trade players”.

The company has been researching the female market for 18 months though its BitterSweet Partnership initative.

The new range of beers will be made from a recipe which fights the concerns women have around drinking beer such as bloating, weight gain and taste.

Wow. We are talking about true revolutionaries here.

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I’ve been waiting for the first really well crafted and cellar conditioned beer from Schouskjelleren Mikrobryggeri.


It’s here. Their Christmas brew really does the trick.

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I got a beer in the mail the other day, unfortunately too late for me to review it for Halloween. It was particularly appropriate, as it is a bottle of Croglin Vampire, a doppelbock from Cumbrian Legendary Ales in the Lake District.

The brewery mainly delivers cask ales close to home, but this particular beer was bottled, though it seems it’s only distributed in Cumbria. Except one review sample which found its way across the North Sea.

A German rather than an English beer style, this is hardly true to type. Loads of sweet malt, but very fruity and aromatic. Plums, raisins, cherries, a hint of tobacco. Dry, slightly sour finish, long complex aftertaste.

If you have more beers like this, please keep them coming!

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While we rely more and more on online reading, there are still some publishers who help us fill our shelves with beer-related books. The latest addition is a new book in the 80 beers series from Cogan & Mater, this time around it is Around Amsterdam in 80 beers.

I have found the guides to Brussels and London very useful, and the new book follows the same format. A short introduction on the Dutch beer scene, maps showing all the bars and shops and then an easy reading presentation of each establishment, all of them with color photos.

There are bars old and new, the speciality beer shops, tasting rooms for beer and jenever, cafes and restaurants.

The obvious choices are there, but with 80 places covered you also get to know those who are not so obvious to the occasional visitor. In addition to Amsterdam, a number of places in Haarlem are also covered.

The author, Tim Skelton, has lived in the Netherlands for decades, and this in-depth local knowledge is obvious.

Handy for putting in a coat pocket, this book is a must for any beer interested visitor to Amsterdam. It is even a good read for armchair travellers. I’m sure you can get this book in some of the drinking holes covered in the book, but it is probably better to order it online, as it is a handy planning tool.

I hereby nominate Berlin, Vienna (with a side trip to Bratislava) and Copenhagen (with Malmö included) as the next books in the series!

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