Were brewers to be divided up into “tweakers” and “experimenters”, I would certainly find myself categorised as an experimenter. But I have been tweaking lately... and learning about the ageing of essential-oil components in hops.
How catching the opening hours of Bristol Beer Week and walking across the Clifton Suspension Bridge got me thinking about French beer.
Bamberg, with eight breweries in its centre and dozens peppering the surrounding region, lives and breathes beer as if it were air. And that air carries the meaty aroma of beechwood smoke.
As the autumn equinox passes and the nights draw in, thoughts turn to Christmas ale, spice in beer, and the spice of life.
Wondering why Munich isn’t awash with Mango-Juice Double IPA, Espresso Coffee and Vanilla Stout, or Arugula Brett-Spiked Saison, is like complaining that the Italian Alps don’t look like the Cotswolds, or that the Vietnamese don’t eat roast beef and Yorkshire pudding.
With the Oktoberfest on the horizon, I consider the birth of Mӓrzen and Hell at the festival, explore Munich beer offerings away from the Theresienwiese, and pay tribute to Georg Schneider, patron saint of Weiβbier.
The Reichsparteitage schedule of drinking, communal singing, political speeches and celebration of the Volksgemeinschaft was an amplified version of an evening in Munich’s beerhalls in the 1920s and 30s.
The focus on a single ingredient - American hops - is the top of a slippery slope. It encourages an ever-narrowing focus on certain elements of that ingredient, which sends us sliding towards a place where fizzy, alcoholic fruit juice can be mistaken for beer.
A Chaucerian pilgrimage to the Ales Tales Belgian Beer Festival in Bethnal Green, on which two signs are given, three poets share their wisdom, 10 ales are drunk, and one circle is closed.
With a couple of friends to lend a helping hand, brew day can be a hospitable time of aimless conversation, mutual admiration of shiny brewing equipment, and shameless indulgence in good beer, cheese and ham.