Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Bad Week for Brewing

George Bateman was one of the most vibrant men in brewing and it was with great sadness that I heard of his passing from cancer.

I only had the privelege of meeting him once but he was courteous and interested in my views on beer, it's great loss to the industry.

And here's hoping that Dave Wickett at the Kelham Island Brewery manages to stay afloat following recent flooding in the north of England.

Talking to the British Guild of Beer Writers' newsletter Dave said: "The water started to flood the car park at 3pm, I told the staff to secure and abandon the brewery at around 4pm. Half an hour later the Don burst its banks and the whole area was flooded.

"This morning we have noticed that a couple of conditioning tanks on tall legs in the room at the back may have not gone under water so we might have a little bit of beer left but otherwise it's a big setback."

Dave makes one of my favourite beers, if not THE favourite, Pale Rider - and I would implore fellow beer fans to support Kelham Island by buying their beers when they start brewing again.

Monday, 18 June 2007

Having a Good Knight at the Cricket!

Despite the illustrious Sir Ian Botham's insistence that wine is the best drink in the world, (congratulations by the way Beefy), I don't think you can beat a pint whilst watching the men in white and I'm pleased to say there's a new book out that combines these two subjects beautifully.

The Beer Lover's Guide to Cricket by Roger Protz, the guy who compiles the Good Beer Guide amongst many other things (see links), is not only hugely fascinating if you are interested in cricket it also provides a great guide to getting decent beer in and around cricket grounds in the UK.

Starting with a detailed history of the Bat & Ball in Hambledon, the birthplace of the modern game, the author details the background of the game and includes notable and amusing anecdotes throughout - including this gem of bawdy humour:

"A minute records that at one dinner the toasts were for:

The Queen's Mother
The King
Hambledon Club
To the Immortal Memory of Madge
The President

"Madge was the nickname given to the small wicket made up of two stumps. By extension it was also a vulgar term for a woman's private parts. What fun the members must have had when the shape of the wicket changed and Madge was infiltrated by a third stump."

The wags! But this is a beer blog after all and I'd love to just make this one point - why, oh why, are all these real ale brands investing in cricket advertising if you can't get a pint of the damn stuff when you're at most of the grounds' public bars? Smoothflow sucks, give us the decent beer please!

P.S. Congratulations to the two Neils of BarWizards on their stonking performance on Britain's Got Talent - as they are great mates of mine I personally think they stole the show, but then I'm biased! For some of the most entertaining bartending you'll ever see click here and if you want to contact the boys visit: and tell them you saw it here!

Friday, 15 June 2007

Chilly Reception

Right, this 'serve everything over ice' shit has got to stop!

It was bad enough when I was at an event recently that the first thing I got greeted with was a red 'bowl' of Piper Heidsieck champagne, with rapidly melting ice sloshing around in it, and the legend 'piscine' around the outside (wtf?) - but now one of my favourite breweries is at it as well!

I love Fuller's - I think Discovery is a cracking summer beer, the Vintage Ale is a work of art, the Porter is dark delight and the Golden Ale is a beer I can sit and savour for hours - but what the hell are their marketing people thinking by suggesting Honey Dew should be served over ice with lime?!

Unlike some of the fundamentalists out there I think it's a good thing ales are being served a little bit more chilled these days - because at the end of the day that's what consumers want and, if that's what they want, it's no use bitching and moaning it's not how it should be served - but this is just taking the so-called Magner's effect waaaaay to far.

In fact, I'm thinking about hunting down the bastard who started this 'over ice' business and having a word in their shell-like - who's with me?!

Friday, 8 June 2007

Healthy Interest

I was a bit depressed by something I read today - according to a new bit of research by Datamonitor beer is considered 'old-fashioned' by many consumers to whom "the appeal of a beer belly is apparently diminishing".

Well, apart from the fact that no one wants to look like the person who ate all the pies, there's no real startling insight there - but what depressed/annoyed me is that the beer belly is pretty much total bollocks - no really!

Beer has had a bad rap over the past few years but research done at the University of London has shown that moderate beer drinkers are no more prone to developing a paunch than anyone else, being overweight is actually more a combination of taking insufficient exercise and too much fatty food - for example did you know that a packet of peanuts contains over three times the calories of a pint of beer?

In fact, whilst we’re on the subject of calories, a half pint of 4%ABV beer (roughly 280ml) weighs in at a mere 95 calories; contrast this with 131 calories in a 125 ml glass of sparkling wine, 136 calories in a half pint of soft drink, or the 220 calories of a 330ml Bacardi Breezer and beer is already looking good.

Ally this low calorie count with the fact that researchers at Harvard in America have shown that it is moderate alcohol consumption that protects against heart disease, be it red wine or beer, and the case for beer keeps building.

And contrary to popular misconception - that mainstream beers are somehow chemically created - all lagers, ales, milds and stouts basically share the same brewing process and all natural ingredients, malted grains, hops, water and yeast.

The carbohydrate in beer is mainly polysaccharide i.e. dextrins and dietary fibre, in fact a pint of beer can contain a significant proportion of the recommended intake of dietary fibre.

Thus, in nutritional terms, beer is fat free, low in free sugar, a source of protein and dietary fibre and rich in B vitamins - as well as generally being low in alcohol compared with other alcoholic drinks.

Moderate consumption is the key though, so don’t feel too bad about popping out for a quick pint every so often because it’s doing great things for your heart – and soul.