Sunday, 18 April 2010

Young Folks

, the Glasgow delicatessen chain, has taken to organising what they call beer festivals a few times a year. They are really tasting sessions. You pay to get in and then brewery reps or Peckham's staff will pour you samples of their beers. Today was another one at the Glassford Street store and I went along despite feeling very rough indeed, due to over-indulgence at West the evening before (no hangovers my arse). The sacrifices I make for my readers.

It was packed, and interestingly enough, most of the people there were young and a proportion approaching 50% female. The turn-out of Scottish brewers was significantly up on last time, with Houston, BrewDog, Williams Bros, Stewart and Sinclair Breweries (Orkney and Atlas) all represented. Also in attendance, like last time, were Coors, oh excuse me, "Different World Drinks Company", with their range of speciality beers.

I was delighted to see that Knops have finally got their first beer to market and onto the buyer's desk at Peckham's. The Edinburgh start-up has opted to have a California Common as its first beer, a somewhat incongruous choice but at least they can't be accused of chasing after the same bandwagon as everyone else. It's a dry, light-on-the-palate beer, somewhat grainy-tasting, with a noticeable but subdued bitterness on the finish. The company's aim is to make easy-drinking beers; I wonder if it will succeed in finding a niche.

Over to Coo—ah, Different World, for the taste of Žatec that I'd been promising myself. The only one of the brewery's beers that Coors chooses to market in the UK is, as far as I can tell, the 11° ležák; at the last tasting event I thought this was dire, but a friend of mine swears blind that I once came round to his house raving about how great it was. I try to be fair and give it another chance. It's awful. It's recognisably a Czech beer, just a rather poorly made one.

Also on offer was Kasteel Cru, the "champagne beer" marketed at women. It's much, much, worse than Žatec. The champagne yeast is detectable, but apart from that it has very little taste of any kind; except that there's a distinct sour tang to it, like cooking lager with a shot of lemon juice. I don't know why anyone would drink this when there is inexpensive cava widely available that's much nicer. Coors is obviously putting a great deal of effort into building up this portfolio of speciality beers to reduce their reliance on Carling, but they'll have to do better than this pair of fourth-raters.

To my delight, Houston had a pin of Peter's Well set up. It's not every day you get to enjoy this refreshing pale bitter while simultaneously having a go at the brewer in person for the tacky, sexist pump clips on their seasonal ales, the likes of Top Totty and Helga's Big Jugs. He seemed unfazed by me pointing out that they prevent me and my friends from buying his generally very good beers. Presumably his other customers must like them. I hope I never meet these people.

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