Friday, 29 January 2010

More from the miserable puritans

The puritanical health lobby were polluting the airwaves again this morning. There was I merrily driving down to the brewery listening to radio four, when at just before seven Professor Henry Brubaker of the Institute of Studies came on rail against booze again.

Actually it was really a woman whose name escapes me from the Institute of Alcohol Studies, Henry Brubaker the resident expert at the Daily Mash would have talked more sense. She was there to cheer on some new police power to hassle kids out drinking and rant on about how what was really needed was minimum pricing, because doctors support it. Hearing doctors have a go at boozing always gets my goat, as let’s face it they’re hardly an abstemious bunch themselves, and with the money they coin in minimum pricing isn’t going to affect their drinking. The woman insisted this was necessary to stop the ever increasing alcohol consumption.

The fact that alcohol consumption is actually falling, as Pete Brown has explained in great detail, obviously passed her by. But why let facts get in the way of a moral crusade?

Monday, 25 January 2010

The farts have it!

Coming from behind (well they would, wouldn't they?) in my latest poll the farts have emerged victorious. More people would prefer pubs to smell of farts than fags. 

All I can say is you wouldn't be voting for farts if you'd been gassed out of a pub like I was the other week. I know fags could be irritating in pubs but as far as I'm concerned the background smell of tobacco smoke was far preferable to the stench of farts.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Death draws closer...

I've moved nearer to death now. A third of a percent nearer in fact.

No, it's not the latest scare story about booze, it's that I've had another beer from 300 Beers to Try Before You Die. I must be at least half dead now.

Rogue Shakespeare's Stout was the culprit. A strong, smooth stout with typically American citrus flavour from the hops. I don't really think the combination worked, not that I didn't finish the bottle mind. I just think the flavours seemed to clash making a beer somehow less than the sum of its parts. 

Monday, 18 January 2010

OK, I'm getting worried now

I haven't really paid too much attention to the current anti-alcohol hysteria, though I have enjoyed Pete Brown's excellent rebuttal of it. I started getting worried this morning though as some health official started talking about all the plans they had to force us to be healthier.

They've come up with a 12 point plan, covering a range of stuff, but on the radio the talk was mostly anti-booze and talk of banning trans-fats. They said that with the unexpected success they'd had attacking smoking they wanted to move on to drinking next.

First they came for the smokers, then they came for the drinkers ... and it looks like it will be fry ups next!

If you really want to you can hear the health police here, 07:52

Bugger Bedford

The IBD AGM is at Charles Well's brewery in Bedford today. To get to it I'd have to drive for hours and then drive for even more hours to get home. Last year I got the train to Fuller's and after the official business was over (which took nine minutes!) I was able to get on with the important business of getting pissed networking.

I did want to go, as I think someone from my course at Heriot-Watt is doing a talk, but I can't be doing with this.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Pub crawl St James's and Mayfair

This pub crawl was a technological breakthrough being put together by the lovely Lisa on twitter. That'll get the tabloids going: people now using tweets to organise drinking binges!

Of course we didn't cause any trouble and were mainly interested in studying pub architecture. That we happened to down a pint or six over the evening was merely an added bonus. 

Once again we were planning to follow a route from London Pub Walks but stopped off for a beer before the planned start at the Feathers. The pub was nice enough, if a bit lacking in atmosphere. The had one of Nethergate breweries excellent 'Azza' beers on, this one being Azzaparrot, a lovely fruity malty beer.  I think we've now had Azzabadger, Azzaskunk and Azzaparrot. 

We then got to the 'official' start at the first of our Red Lions. The pub was packed out but we managed to find an empty room upstairs to install ourselves in. The light was off when we went in but due to our advanced technological capabilities we were able to flick the switch and turn them on.  St Austell Tribute was the beer here and it was as good as ever. 

Lights make rooms in pubs so much more accessible.

This Red Lion had a Red Lion

We were meant to go to the Golden Lion next but it was shut so so we moved on to anther Red Lion. This was a small Fuller's pub with a beautiful mirrored interior where we drank Pride until driven out by the stench of someone's fart. I preferred it when pubs smelt of tobacco so I've going to have a poll on this one: what do you prefer to smell in pubs - fags or farts?

We were getting peckish by now but the Coach and Horses wasn't serving food so after we'd guzzled our Adnam'sBroadside we went to Benito's Hat for a burrito. I assume Benito's hat fell off when his body was strung up upsidedown from a petrol station but quite why they named a restaurant after it I'm not sure. 

Next we briefly stopped the Bricklayer's Arms, where I picked up the interesting tit bit that apparently Sam Smith's have 415 pubs, double the usual estimate. They really are a strange company. The beer was all keg and who wants to go to a pub and drink keg  beer so we didn't even bother finishing our pint. 

They know their bricks in the Bricklayers Arms

The next pub was a Shepherd Neame house, the Bloomsbury Tavern.  We had Master Brew bitter which made a pleasant change from Spitfire. 

Finally we ended up at the Coal Hole, where the Timothy Taylor's Landlord was on excellent form.

By this point we'd studied enough pub architecture for one evening so headed home.


Wadworth's on Countryfile

Wadworth's was on the latest edition of Countryfile. There was stuff on the horse drawn drays and the oak casks which Wadworth's is famous for. They also showed an in pub rifle range which I must admit is a new one on me.  

Having worked with some oak casks from Wadworth's I can say they're a pain in the arse compared to metal ones. They do look good though.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Snowed in again

I'm not happy this time though. I work in a brewery now. I want to get to work!

Saturday, 9 January 2010

This is getting serious

My local ran out of cask beer last night. They were already running low on Wednesday afternoon and by the end of the evening yesterday there was nothing left.    

Going, going, gone

I don't suppose they'll have got more supplies in tonight so we might have to stay in. We're probably down to our last hectolitre of beer in the house so the situation is getting desperate.

The dogs have done it (just)

Brewdog's equity offer has reached the minimum amount required to go ahead. So far they've raised just over £500,000, well short of the £2.3 million they were hoping for but still an impressive figure to raise.

The investment didn't make much financial sense and opinion was divided amongst my fellow internet beer nerds as to whether investors were seizing a great opportunity or simply mugs. Either way I find it heartening to see that there are thousands of dedicated beer enthusiasts out there prepared to put their money where their mouth is.

I didn't buy a share myself though, I prefer to invest my money in beer more directly in public houses specially designed for such transactions.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Where's Worthy?

Since reading Hops and Glory I've had a thirst on for some Worthington's White Shield. Now the lovely Lisa has started on the book the situation is getting desperate. Sadly despite the fact that Coors have apparently pumped money into the brand I can't find it in my local supermarkets and google hasn't been much help.

Does anyone out there know who's selling it at the moment?

Monday, 4 January 2010

Hops and Glory

Amongst the big bonanza of beer books I got for Christmas was Hops and Glory. The lovely Lisa got it for me even though it wasn't on my wish list. She's clever like that. Particularly clever in fact, as the author says it sold out in mid December*. Being a cheapskate I'd been holding out until the paperback edition arrived but I'm glad I didn't as it's a cracking read.

For my non-beer nerd readers that haven't heard all about it already it tells the story of a beer writer recreating a historically authentic India Pale Ale (IPA) and trying to take it to India by the pre-Suez canal route over land and sea. Along the way we're also treated to a range of stories, including how Burton-on-Trent came to be Britain's beer capital,  the history of the British Raj and the effects of ageing on beer and wine. Even my current brewing hero Horace Brown gets a mention. There was even hardly anything I thought the author had got wrong, unlike some beer writers I could mention

I'd recommend people get a copy quick before they all go. Or failing that be a cheapskate and wait for the paperback.   

*Though Amazon don't seem to have noticed yet.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

How Beer is made ...

... In Germany eighty years ago anyway. Another excellent post over at Jim’s links to a charming video from 1930 showing how a German brewery works. The captions are in German and in black letters but it’s pretty easy to follow. If you’re still not sure I’ve written a guide to what’s going on based on my knowledge of the brewing process (with some help from babelfish) below.

Das bierbrauen – The brewing of beer

Don’t blame me if my translations are rubbish, I’m only doing my best here.

The roof of the brewery comes off to reveal the malt store (Braumalzlager). The malt store is filled with malted barley (Braumalz). On the floor below is a malt mill (Schrotmühle)

The malt grains are cracked in the mill. [Malt mills seem to last forever so it’s common to see mills of similar vintage still in use in breweries today.]

On the floor below is the sudhaus (brewhouse?) where the mash mixer (maischbottich) and mash kettle (maischfanne) are.

Cracked malt (malzschrot) and water (wasser) are added to the mash mixer and mixed. A portion (typically a third) is then pumped to the mash kettle and heated to 55º C for 10 minutes then raised to boiling temperature. This boiling portion is then returned to the mash mixer and mixed in, bringing the temperature up to 55º C.

A portion is then pumped into the mash kettle and heated to 75º C for 10 minutes before boiling again and being returned to the mash mixer. This brings the temperature up to 76º C.

The mash then drops a floor into the lauter tun (läuterbottich). Here the wort (bierwürze) containing the sugars from the malt is drained off from the spent grains (treber) and pumped into the copper (würzefanne). The hops (hopfen) are added here and the wort is boiled [usually for 60-90 minutes].

The wort is then pumped up to a hopback (hopfenseiher) where the spent hops are separated from the wort which then goes into a cool ship (hühschiff) where it cools to 60º C. The wort then drops over a cooler (berieselungskühler) which lowers the wort temperature to 6ºC and runs into a fermenting vessel (gärbottich). Here the yeast (hefe) is added and fermentation takes place, producing a good yeasty head and enough carbon dioxide to put a candle out. The fermentation temperature is kept at 6-9ºC by the cooling coils in the fermenting vessel. At the end of the primary fermentation beer is then transferred to the lagering cellar (lagerkeller) which is kept at a constant temperature of 0ºC.

After lagering (this should take weeks) the beer goes to something apparently called the schwankhalle (every home should have one!) or my guess in English would be the racking room. Here the wooden casks are cleaned and checked before filling. Also some of the beer goes into bottles.

The casks are rolled onto the loading bay (ladebühne) and loaded onto the dray.


Friday, 1 January 2010

The Science of pork

Over at Jim's Beer Kit a thread has been posted about hangover cures. As an experience researcher I wasn't expecting much new but a tantalising quote perked up my interest: 

After a night at the orgy, the ancient Romans would cure their hangovers by stuffing themselves with deep-fried canaries. The Greeks favoured frying up sheep's lungs. For decades, we Britons have relied on bacon sandwiches to soak away the headache and nausea after a night out. But it was not until earlier this year that scientists at Newcastle University claimed to have pinpointed how fried meats cure hangovers by boosting the metabolism and creating amines which clear the head.

I'm not going to be switching to eating deep fried canaries after a heavy night but I was intrigued to see that hangovers have been investigated scientifically. A quick google lead me to the article the quote comes from. It mainly rambles on about economics, which is obviously far less important that hangover cures. Further googling lead me to this article which explains a little more but I haven't managed to find any peer reviewed papers on the power of pork yet. My research, both practical and theoretical, will be continuing ...