Monday, 8 October 2012

When Beer Cultures Collide...

What is Beer Culture? That gets asked a lot around the beer blogosphere. Some people assert it's part of national identity. I tend to think that, when beer drinkers in countries with a beer tradition  are consuming the same globally-available brands, framing the question in national terms is nonsense, while outdated stereotypes persist in the face of amorphous, evolving attitudes to beer. Still, Boggle doesn't waste too many brain cells on the matter. Make Boggle's head hurt. Boggle smash!

This made me grin, though. Taken this weekend at a bar somewhere north of San Francisco...

Blind Pig would be some of That Craft. Guinness wouldn't. Maybe that's where the fault line in beer culture is, nowadays. Whoever came up with this abomination deserves a swift Cockney Throat Punch. I love the 'No Crap On Tap' sticker at the bottom of the pic. Ironic, no?

Notes: pic courtesy of my local contact, Biff Boggle. I have no idea who first coined the term, cockney throat punch, but I've nicked it off an acquaintance called Daniel O'Sullivan

Friday, 5 October 2012

Free Who?

There's breaking news today that the Freeminer Brewery, located at Cinderford in the Forest Of Dean, is about to change hands.

Many beer lovers around the UK beer scene will know their larger-than-life head brewer Don 'Demon Brewer' Burgess, but might have wondered where his beer was. The answer, these days, seems to be mostly in Cooperative stores, but it's less than a decade since he was winning plaudits for Trafalgar IPA and, my favourite, Deep Shaft Stout, a bottle-conditioned beer that stood several years of ageing. I left my first bottle for over 4 years, and Don had been known to stash the odd case to see what happens. I had a 10 year-old back in 2009, and it was superb.

Don Burgess - Half Man, Half Badger
Don was interviewed by Roger Protz some years back after Freeminer won the business to brew Co-op's ethical bottled beers, while a year or so back, if you'd bought a bottle of Sainsbury's Taste The Difference Ginger Beer, that tiny signature on the label was his. But of Freeminer beers, there has been little sign.

However, with new ownership, I hear that there should be a new lease of life for the brand. Deep Shaft Stout will hopefully be making a welcome comeback, and I'd be interested to see where Trafalgar sits on the spectrum of hoppy golden pale ales. I wonder if Don will update the recipe? There's also whispers of a collaboration with one of our larger brewers.

I think that's good news for Freeminer, and good news for UK brewing. I think the scene will be more lively with Burgess and Freeminer back in it with serious presence.