Lambic and Gueuze

About Gueuze, Lambic and more…

This is a truly amazing category of beer.

The few breweries that brew Lambic, then blend to be Gueuze – the famed Cantillon and Drie Fonteinen, the new comer blender Tilquin, the variety and consistency of Boon as much Mort Subite. There are also brews from Girardin and De Troch that aren’t in stock at the moment, but, look out for them in time. Then the curious and perculiar to the lambic brewing scene, the blender, famously Hanssens. It’s hard when you’re this nerdy about Lambic, to not have a growing variety of gueuze and kriek etc.

Yes, Lambic isn’t for everyone’s palate – leathery, acidic, woody, raw and spritzy flavours. But, once you “get it”, you’ll love those flavours. A great come home to beer – the sharp refreshment. That goes oh so well with italian-style dried meats etc.

Education and Beer – Learn and Share

Education

I was out delivering a talk recently, on beer; you know the usual stuff: how beer is made, how long it’s been made, what makes it “beer” and a loose intro to beer styles and the differences between.

I really love getting out and about, meeting all sorts of people – and thankfully that lovely phrase crosses over, Different Strokes for Different Folks. I am sure some of you have serious qualifications in your chosen career or prior career before you fell into Beer, so you might have the insight in to what a Stroke is. Well, I can start by saying it’s not the brain injury we’re talking about. It’s what some have referred to as an approach to different people that should be individualized. The proverb also means that different people have different tastes. Nobody knows exactly where the saying comes from. Wolfgang Mieder thinks it originated in the United States.

Anyway, why all the psycho-philosopy… well, I think it’s important that we understand where we stand in the world of beer. I think EVERYONE who has a personal or professional interest in beer has an obligation to help those who don’t know about beer, but with the caveat that we mustn’t judge people by their tastes, by what they drink or otherwise.

My toughest tasting from memory, was a bunch of bankers (I have used other terms) certified Industrial Fizzy Lager drinkers, and proud of it. Did I berate them for doing so… no. Did I find an angle with them, exploring their other food intake to seek parallel toward drinking better beer… yes. I had to work very hard on these chaps, one by one, they slowly came around to thinking that perhaps they could do better – and I learned something: their motivations weren’t flavour or the like – it was getting where they wanted to be, in a controlled amount of time – hence drinking Weak Industrial Fizzy Lager. Also, Price was a factor – these better off, financially, people were hung up on the price of Artisan Lager vs Industrial Lager. They also came with the mindset of Last Man Standing – a game of dare to who falls over first; a challenge if there ever was one from my stand point.

The funny thing, even with all the bravado and bullshit spouting forth, once I had done my gig a few of them were keen to talk to me at the bar. Why? I think it was, so not to be under the gaze of the group bullies. What did they ask? Great questions about the history, locale and what does X beer drink well with on the table; not the how much, how much and how much they were involved with when in the formal presentation.

There was my chance to grab a couple from the heard and change their ideals toward the fuller flavoured smaller brewery brewed beers; why beers were sour, why there are 10%+ abv beers etc.

I am in a fortunate position to be able to travel and learn about beer, many people can’t. Relying on friends and mates down the pub – maybe they were bought a box of beers for Christmas Beer, maybe they have a of a 1000 beers to drink before you end up in a wooden box. There are all tiers of tastes, levels of awareness toward beer.

This is where you come in.

I want you to go out, learn as much as you can about beer, learn from those who write, talk and video blog about Beer, and take it to those that aren’t beer-aware. Er, that really sounds like taking a faith to the uninitiated; so you don’t want to sound like a missionary. Ok, how about disruption: Getting out there and flyering for your next local beer festival. Invite all your friends on Facebook, email them. Become an advocate for your good local brewery! Having a party? Take some good, but accessible beers – if no one drinks them, so what!? You’ll have something good to drink all night. Instead of Alcopops try some fruit beers.

It’s all well and good having 1000’s of followers on Twitter, and they’re all beer people, all the people you socialise with are beer people etc… But, I make a concerted effort on corrupting my Fishing and every day mates ideals toward beer – even my gluten intolerant mate who had resorted to cider and corona (his words; they kinda taste the same) to Mongozo GF Pils, “it actually tastes like a lager”.

Why do I say this?

Well, if you as a beer lover, on my Beermerchants twitter numbers, say 3000 people – turn one of your friends onto artisan beer, or just beer (away from wines or ciders – or god forbid Alcopops – a double word score) you immediately double the numbers of people who might buy or the chance that people may find the beers we love.

I am not talking about Militancy – ok, “Occupy The Pub” or “Occupy Supermarket Isles” sounds great, just a gentle nudge here and there. Take a friend to a beer festival – much like Teach a Friend to Homebrew.

Remember – No one likes a Know it all.

Why can’t this be done via marketing or advertising:  You have the trust, you know these people, you know what they want, like and their tastes.  You know their social schedules and you speak to them when they are either making a choice at the bar or in the supermarket isle.   You can of course, should you so wish to, help them with recomendations from Beermerchants.com.   You can hit that totally indivualised experience for the newby beer lover.   Do it!  Tell them, This is why I love beer.

Go for it!

I would love to see this taken on… not in some sort “you must” – just a little softly softly approach. I am sure many of you do anyway.

Ma Pardoes

Ma Pardoes 

There are few things that I enjoy more than a really good brewpub.

A brew pub is defined, in Wikipedia, as a “pub or restaurant that brews beer on the premises”.   Some brewpubs, such as The Blue Anchor in Helston, Cornwall and those in Germany, have been brewing traditionally on the premises for hundreds of years.   Others, such as the Les 3 Brasseurs chain in France,and the various chains in North America, are modern restaurants.

Before the development of large commercial breweries, beer would have been brewed on the premises from which it was sold.   Alewives would put out a sign such as an ale-wand to show when their beer was ready. Gradually men became involved in brewing and organized themselves into guilds such as the Brewers Guild in London of 1342 and the Edinburgh Society of Brewers in 1598; as brewing became more organized and reliable many inns and taverns ceased brewing for themselves and bought beer from these early commercial breweries.

However, there were some brewpubs which continued to brew their own beer, such as the Blue Anchor in Helston, Cornwall, England, which was established in 1400 and is regarded as the oldest brewpub in the British Isles.In Britain during the 20th century most of the traditional pubs which brewed their own beer in the brewhouse round the back of the pub, were bought out by larger breweries and ceased brewing on the premises. By the mid-1970s only four remained, All Nations, The Old Swan, the Three Tuns and the Blue Anchor.

The Old Swan, Netherton

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The 148-year-old pub, in a small industrial village about a mile out of Dudley town centre, takes its nickname from former matriarch Dorothy Pardoe, who was landlady for more than half a century. Today it is run by the superb Tim Newey, who can usually be seen in full morning dress, who restored it to its former glory eight years ago.

While its lovingly restored Victorian frontage is the view on all the postcards, the chances are you will miss this if you visit by car.  There is a modern car park to the rear, which @terry_tibbs and I missed, having to park further up the road.

An ivy-covered brick archway leads into a small beer garden, decorated with colourful hanging baskets, and a small foyer containing an upright piano takes you to the lounge.

If  the longevity of this place is not credit enough check out the array of awards on show in the corridor – more certificates than a doctor’s waiting room – and in 2005 it was listed as one of Britain’s top 16 pubs by the Campaign for Real Ale. The lounge was buzzing when we arrived – with a large antique mirror complimenting the many pieces of period artwork on display. The large organ in the rear of the lounge gives a clue to the owner’s love of organ music.

Two flights of stairs take you the Granary Loft restaurant, a short walk that takes you back into the world of genteel Victorian society. At one end of the room is an immaculate cast iron fireplace, a dark wood dado rail separating the brown textured finish of the lower walls from the soft pink floral wallpaper above. Napkins are arranged in an elaborate fan shape on the tables, which are each laid with an impressive set of intricately laid cutlery. Sepia pictures of local scenes adorn the walls, while a young gentleman in a black tie stands at the head of the room to check everybody’s needs are being attended to. It is hard not to wonder if this is how the well-heeled members of 19th Century society, the foundry owners, the chain shop magnates, would have spent their evenings.

Of course, it would be a crime not to sample any of the delightful home-brewed ales. My tipple of choice was Old Swan Original, a wonderful light mild.  There were three other beers on tap that day, one that shall remain nameless too!

I had a quick visit around the brew house, the amazing teak mashtun that tim had brought back to life!

I went for a rather good Roast Beef, washed down with a second pint of something with a bit more kick and more hops.  @terry_tibbs went for a gammon, I think.  The already large mains were accompanied by sizeable bowls of vegetables, baby roasts, chips and mashed potato, all of the highest quality, and eventually I had to concede defeat and leave some food on my plate.

If you do pay a visit, make sure you check out all the different rooms, each having their own unique character. If the upstairs restaurant typifies the genteel side of Victorian life, the more modest rooms at the back are probably something like the sort of place where the ordinary folk might have hung out.  Most spectacular of all, though, is the front bar, which has its own separate door leading out onto the street: It is like a licensed museum, with a glittering array of bottles lining the wrought iron shelves, painted in a vivid signal red, cast iron tables, and an antique weighing machine in the corner. Most striking of all, though, is the huge enamel mural of a swan on the ceiling.

Pardoe’s takes great pride in the fact that its food is all home-made, right down to the ice cream, and the staff really do go the extra mile to make every meal special. But it is not a place to visit if you are in a hurry, though; you have to wait for each meal to be cooked, and it is really the sort of place where you have to make a night of it, soaking up the atmosphere, and savouring the superb range of food and drink on offer.

Whisper it quietly, but I think it’s the bee’s knees.

The Old Swan
89 Halesowen Road, Netherton, Dudley DY2 9PY
Phone: 01384 253075

the listed roof, enamelled, of the main bar.

one of three deep open square fermenters.

yes, these are a BARREL of beer, real ones, that get used, everyday.

Tim, genius of many years dedicated service to this amazing place.