Creeping Ivy

Creeping IvyCreeping Ivy

Fashions, trends or just looking over the garden fence… are they healthy?

I am guilty of the next as the next person promoting fringe activities as a “better alternative”; looking back through this blog I have “pimped” – yes, I haven’t mentioned Fullers, Harveys’ or Lees or Wilsons or Holts or a fine pint of Mild often, but that doesn’t mean I don’t miss it when I come back to the UK from foreign beer lands.

But some personal home truths;   I know at the throne of BeerGeekisms I would be burned  for saying how much I love great milds and crystal malt and fuggles and goldings have a place, not at the back of the brewery store.    Belly slapping big Imperial Stouts are awesome, US IPA‘s with nose jangling hop aromas and bitterness that makes your gums peel are all fine, in their place.  I would be hung for loving Lager, from the industrial PBR, Olympia types even a glass of Heineken in Amsterdam, right through fantastic Helles and Pilseners of German and Pilsners from Czech Rep by many real ale-ys.

I grew up in a pub. We served all sorts, Belgian, German and lots of Cask ales – I have always drunk a full spectrum of flavours, as much said by one of the chaps that helped me find my way in beer, “would you want to eat the same type of food every night?

But, I worry when I hear “Death of The English Classical Hop”.   Bramling Cross and Fuggle seemingly will be off the list because of cost of growing and the amount of American hops used.    Yes, I am not a fan of Fuggle, but try brewing a classic stout or underpinning the notes of Goldings with anything else; a local brewpub has steadfastly held on to their Fuggles brew, at 3.6%,  and it was cracking!    Bramling Cross, a hop that I love, seemingly might be off the menu in a couple of years.    Appreciation and championing of classic British ale styles is something to be applauded.    When was the last time you had a great British Barley wine, or Old ale, Lactose stout?  of course you can name a couple?  But how many pale gold, 3.8% american hop “hophead” style beers can you name…  Pete, Martin et al have done a good job of getting the light back on UK classic IPA, but it doesn’t stop there.

The use of American Hops, “Kevin Wouldn’t Like it”, etc…. I love great bright American hop notes, hell what Steve, Angelo and I used by the shit load; but is that at the cost of our UK hop varietals?     I love to see brewers capable of brewing a full spectrum of flavours and styles.  For example, at Pizza Port Carlsbad, a small brewpub in San Diego earlier this year, had a Pils, Porter, English IPA, West Coast IPA, Stout, West Coast Stout, Irish Stout and a cream ale and more on tap all at the same time… it was frikken awesome.

Nut Brown anyone… ? Thank you DarkStar.    1890 Export Stout, thank you Kernel Brewery.      Thank you Ron Pattinson, Durden beer Circle and others for spending so much time on the old school recipes.   And, by the same token I love to see how Rye Beers, Black IPA’s and American-eque flavours have taken ahold here.

When was the last time you even saw a Berliner Weisse, a Goze or Mumm?  All beer styles that live on the far fringe of beer in Germany, that I’d love to see more accessible.      Brown, wood aged sour beers in the UK?     It wasn’t so long ago it was rare to find a porter available in the UK?

Then I see things like this:

This sort of thing yeah is a funny meme and makes a few beer aficionados chuckle.   But is it healthy?     Is it better to be in the tent pissing out, or pissing in?

UK Beer Exports

By chance, I had what is a starter of a conversation with Eddie Gadd of Gadd’s of Ramsgate – the export of British Beer?    Yeah, BrewDog is available about the ways,  couple of the Hepworth beers, Youngs, Meantime and Fullers, Sheps,  are seen here and there; Thornbridge are about too…  we have a shit load of breweries here, some 840?

I see the efforts of the US Brewers Assoc, Bob Pease et al, championing US beer here, Italy and other international Beer festivals.   I see the busiest stand at GBBF the American/Foreign beer bar. Is there a UK beer stand at the GABF?  The different factions about beer in the UK – from CAMRA, Family Brewers, SIBA, the Beer Writers, Bloggers and Twitteratti, Ratebeerians and many trade folk – I know it’s hard for people to work together, but we really need to get our act together on this; not creating a political position or a chance for someone to gadd about the international beer arena to reallly push UK brewing as an export.    I guess SIBA don’t have the financial wearwithall?   Perhaps CAMRA have the £.

If we exported beers, um, like we used to… you know India and Caribbean, or Australia even Belgium; look how many contemporary beer styles we use today derived from those Export Beers?    Not to mention the much needed cash injection?   Perhaps, even, a home for a portion of a brew(s) of over 7.5% speciality beers, now that they are subject to a “supertax”.   (We would have been better served with a law to say that no beer can be sold below cost?)

A Hope for Beer Enlightenment!

My hope for the next few years, is that we can approach beer with an insight into all of the worlds great beer major and minor styles, know where they fit into our daily diet, what they drink really well with and ensure that beer styles aren’t lost to the history books and are around for the next beer drinking generation to enjoy.

I would love to hear your thoughts on the above.