Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Introducing the ABCP

It has come to my attention that there is not nearly enough poorly-informed quibbling about beer styles in the world. Therefore, I and some like-minded beer lovers and misanthropes are launching the Arbitrary Beer Classification Project.

We will draw on a wide range of sources, including vague and unreliable memories of beers drunk on holiday, defects found in commercial examples, and errors made by Michael Jackson, to create systematically arbitrary descriptions and categorisations of beer styles, so that high-functioning autistic men worldwide will be able to neatly and inaccurately classify any beer they come across into an easy-to-remember box. Or even better, start arguments about them with others.

We hope, given time, to create an entire fantasy beer universe which, up to a point, vaguely resembles the beers available in the real world, then goes off at a tangent. Each beer style will be tightly defined based on historical speculation and something I was once told on a brewery tour.

Beer is a popular drink worldwide, so of course foreign beer styles will be included. We will make strenuous efforts to shoehorn them into our existing categories, or, where this is not possible, lump them together until it is. In the interests of objectivity and universality we guarantee that at no point will the categorisation or naming of beer styles be swayed by how the local drinkers or brewers think about their beer, and we shall replace the unpronounceable local names with English alternatives.

If you would like to help in our work, please apply to be certified.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

What was this stuff like?

In George Watkins' classic 1760 work The compleat brewer, in the description of filling beer into casks, I came across this:

Do I understand this right? The yeasty sludge is to be reserved, and mixed with small beer to improve it.

And William McEwan's letter almost a hundred years later confirms: "This extract of the yeast and also the dregs of the Butts are mixed along with an inferior beer which is sold in the neighbourhood."

I guess this must have been the small beer which history tells us was drunk as an alternative to water before clean municipal tap water became widespread. But how would it be improved by adding yeasty goop to it?

Tuesday, 16 February 2010


National stereotyping? "Sink the Bismarck"? In the twenty-first century? Is that the best they can do? Really?

You expect racist crap like this from Shepherd Neame, but I thought BrewDog were above that. Lame.

There is a slightly tenous link to strong beer: Winston Churchill, who gave the order to sink the Bismarck, was the person for whom Carlsberg Special Brew was first made. It's not recorded whether there was enough alcohol in it for him.

Friday, 12 February 2010

Girls who drink pints

There is now a fan page on the book of face dedicated to “Girls who drink pints”. It has over twelve thousand members. Have the marketers wasted their millions coming up with fancy glassware to try to attract women?

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Jestem piwowarem domowym

The beer scene in Poland took another step forward last week with the founding of the PSPD, Polish homebrewers' association (Polskie Stowarzyszenie Piwowarow Domowych). They've made this rather nice video. Congratulations.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Pouring lager isn't rocket science … is it?

Recently, in an expensive and fashionable haunt of professionals in Glasgow’s leafy West End, the barman proved unable to pour a pint of lager, resulting in a glass of beer with no head whatsoever.

Friends remarked: “Are you on the cider?”

The beer wasn’t flat in the sense of having no CO2 in it; it had just been siphoned slowly into the glass with the minimum of agitation. I had to obtain a second glass and create a head by dumping a portion of the beer into it and then back into the first glass again.

Is pouring lager properly really so difficult?