Archive for the ‘beer books’ Category
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.
Let’s hope this finds a good home and that it will be accessible to researchers.
Just to let you know that the latest issue of All About Beer Magazine has a special supplement – Beer Traveler. Focus is on the US, but there are articles about Germany and Belgium, too. A list of 150 Perfect Places to have a beer will surely lead to discussions. Nice to see Olympen in Oslo at number 98, but I would probably have skipped the visitor’s centres of Heineken and Guinness.
Btw, the magazine itself is recommended, I don’t know of any other beer periodicals with such a consistently high quality currently available.
My friend Per Christian pointed out this quote from Ansible online SF fanzine, which originates from Nicholas Pashley’s book, Cheers! An Intemperate History of Beer in Canada, which Alan has reviewed earlier without mentioning this little nugget:
At least beer geeks get to drink beer, which is a step up from most other forms of geekery. Plus, you don’t have to wear pocket protectors or make Star Trek costumes, and sometimes you actually get to meet women.
Here is another piece from the book by the way of the National Post:
And look what happens when we drink outside the home. The wine drinkers are in restaurants or wine bars, so when their appetites get stimulated they wind up eating “nouvelle cuisine” or “cuisine minceur” or, as we say in English, “small servings.” Which frequently include vegetables. The beer drinker gets peckish and orders a plate of nachos with a side of wings, and maybe a few sour-cream-and-bacon-stuffed potato skins, just in case. Who’s getting fat, and why? Maybe if we spat it out – the nachos, I mean – we’d be as healthy as the wine guys. Not to mention that the wine guys go running and spend time at the gym while we’re at the pub.
No room for more books on the shelves after Christmas. But this one is definitely on my maybe list.
He forgot to mention that some of the women in question wear Dirndls. Or maybe that’s in the next chapter.
Once, back in my student days, I worked the whole month of December at a bookshop in my old home town Trondheim. It was a busy period,at the time I think almost half their yearly turnover of general books was sold in December.
Christmas eve is the big day for family celebrations here in Scandinavia with most people taking the day off preparing their lutefisk, pork ribs or what have you. The shops are open for some hours in the morning.
We were almost ready to lock up on Christmas eve, when a man came running into the store at five minutes to one. He made a circuit of the table of best sellers, picking about ten of them and carried them over to the counter.
Could you wrap them up, please?
It is not quite that late, but I have a late recommendation for my Norwegian readers. If you have a young person – 18 to 20 – your need a present for, Gustav Jørgensen’s Verdens klassiske øltyper is the book to buy.
Gustav systematically goes through all the major beer styles, gives a historical background, gives examples of the style with an emphasis on beers available in Norway and makes excellent proposals for beer and food pairings.
If anyone wants to start beer tastings with family and friends, this is also a handy tome, giving a systematical approach and suggesting beer you can actually get, not only dream about.
And, just to make it clear, I know Gustav, and have a beer with him once in a while. But I would not praise a book I didn’t like!