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Archive for the ‘Ireland’ Category

The NYT have collected all their beer related articles on one page. Nice.

As for me, I am looking at my travel plans for the rest of the year. First of all there is a visit to the Lillehammer brewpub tomorrow. I’ll go with some of my ratebeer drinking buddies, so there will be a tasting on the train as well.

Next week it is off to Italy.

Later: Riga, Dublin, Prague, Berlin, Croatia, London, Copenhagen. Possibly Cyprus.

I had high hopes for a US visit this year, but I guess I shouldn’t complain…

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I would say it is not my fault, but if we should, for once, believe what we read in the Sunday Mirror, there are 67 pubs in Britain closing every month.

Bars are selling 50 million fewer pints of beer a month than they were a year ago.

Beer sales dropped by almost 10 per cent during December – normally the busiest time of the year.

The dramatic decline leaves many of the nation’s 58,000 locals in trouble.

Last month’s nine per cent decline in sales follows a 9.7 per cent drop in November the worst on record while October fell by 7.7 and September by 8.2 per cent. Between June and December, 470 pubs disappeared 2,000 have closed in the last two years.

The industry blames two factors: The smoking ban and cheap supermarket alcohol.

There are still 58.000 British pubs left, so I should be able to find a pint for a few years yet.

As for the smoking ban, I think it is being used as a scapegoat. I have written about the success of similar legislation across Europe, and, apart from some grumbling from Ireland, the pubs and bars seem to be doing quite all right.

When it comes to the British Isles, I think the gap between supermarket prices and pub prices has made a heavy impact. There are now predictions about the £4 pint arriving in 2008, and you don’t have to have a maths degree to see that this will hit the marginal pubs. 

And, realistically, there are limits to what you can do with legislation. If the market will not sustain the present number of pubs, there is not a lot you can do to preserve them all. The most English way of facing the problem was a letter to the press by Stanley Johnson, father of London candidate for mayor Boris Johnson. Mr Johnson (Senior) is of the opinion that a reduction in the drink-drive limit would kill off many pubs in remote rural areas.

The British pubs, like other businesses, have to adjust and change to appeal to new generations. Or course there is a unique heritage that appeals to locals and visitors, and let us hope that most of the best ones survive. At the same time, there are new, good pubs opening and there are old ones adapting, offering a better range of beers, better food etc. Some of the splendid bank buildings that have been converted into pubs, like the Old Bank of England in Fleet Street, show that it’s not all decline.

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Best day ever

Yesterday saw a new peak in traffic on the blog, 259 visitors. Loads of new posts obviously has an impact. This is from a Dublin pub – wish the beer was as splendid as the interior!

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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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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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The wonderful world of beer blogging developed further in 2007, with lots of good beer writing around the globe. There is more beer good beer  journalism on the web than in print now, and I admit that I’m not able to follow all the beer blogs out there.

Some members of this fraternity have the advantage of writing in their mother tongue, which makes for better grammar and a more elegant language than I am able to muster. They even avoid the basic spelling mistakes.

There was a historic moment during the Pig’s Ear Beer Festival when three beer bloggers from three countries met, Stonch from England, The Beer Nut from Ireland and your correspondent. (You might wonder if the beer world is populated by persons with funny names. They are actually called Jeff and John!) Good meeting both of you!

I’m afraid maieb had just left the festival when The Beer Nut and I arrived. Maybe next time?

And we missed Alan, too, the Godfather of beer bloggers.

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Fantasy beer fridge

maeib has set up a list on his blog of how he would stock a beer fridge with 15 beers of 15 different styles from 15 countries. This is a tricky one, not the least because I feel that the ratebeer categories will be a bit hair-splitting to some. And I would have a Trappist category. I don’t know how such a list from me would end up.

Sure, there will be a Nøgne ø beer, there will be Jever Pilsener and Fuller’s ESB, but then …

Should the Imperial Stout come from Ireland (Porterhouse Celebration), Denmark (Mikkeller), Scotland (BrewDog) or Norway (Nøgne ø)?

I’ll get back to you about this. Something to discuss over a pint at the Pig’s Ear festival next week, perhaps?

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