After 2 weeks in Majorca, Its good to back in the UK, at least in one sense, some variation in beer taste. Although Mahou, Cruzcampo, Estrelle Damn and San Miguel are decent beers, after a week of exclusively drinking them, their taste does seem to merge into a generic “lager” flavour which stays with you and can’t be shook off. Not one which forces you to drink overpriced John Smiths, but definitely one which makes your tongue cry out for a change.
Upon my return, as well as a good number of bottles of Punk IPA from Brewdog to reawaken my taste buds, I sampled another excellent hoppy beer “Wild Hop IPA” from Harviestoun. A pale golden beer with a ton of hop, not to the extent of Punk IPA, but maybe slightly more balanced for those of you who are not a total hophead like me. A refreshing citrus taste and sharp aftertaste, with a nice balance of bitterness make a very nice overall package.
While applauding British beers, I have to mention that Copper Dragon in Skipton, the maker of one of my regular session ales “Golden Pippin”, have seen an 80% increase in production over the last 3 years since their current brewhouse was opened. 12 million pints of beer have been produced at the plant by just 11 people, and judging by the consistent quality of Pippin and their other beers, they are doing a fantastic job.
Things are generally looking good for the Real Ale sector as well, According to the 2011-12 Cask Reports from CAMRA (click here for full report) and other trade bodies, ales fell back in volume sales this year, but only by 2% rather than the 7.8% across the entire beer trade. 2500 new premises started to sell the product in this period as well as an increase in young and female drinker turning turning to the product.
An interesting stat from all this is the balance of regular familiar beers to unfamiliar beers served in a pub. You need the regular beers for the drinkers who are loyal to the “house beers”, but also have to cater for the “experimenters” who like to try new beers as much as possible, like myself. If you have too many familiar brands, you lose the “ale pub” tag, but it is the regular ales which will bring you future “experimenters”. They say the ratio should be roughly balanced, so a 4 pump pub should be 50 / 50, while those with more pumps like the Old Ship Inn, Three Pigeons, Dirty Dicks or Red Rooster can afford to have 2 or 3 unfamiliar beers while keeping the 2 regular beers and a couple of rotating beers from a set which falls inbetween the 2 camps. It is a balance a pub naturally finds over time, but is an interesting side to the trade I’ve not considered before.
Moving slightly further afield, regular readers will know I like a good American “craft” beer, and Wetherspoons are selling 5 new brews as part of their 19 day beer festival. These ales are being brewed over here by the American companies themselves, not under license, so should be faithful to their American originals. The beers include those from Michigan (Kalamazoo Black Silk), California (Sandiago Session IPA), Oregon (Cascadian Dark Ale), Ohio (Yakima Sun) and Colorado (Ninety Schilling). I’ve not tried any of these beers and hopefully can catch them in the Brighouse branch over the next few weeks.
A few months ago, I discussed the AB InBev / Budvar spat over the Budweiser brand name in the UK, this has finally been ruled on and it has been decided that both companies can still use the name, as to quote the European Judge “United Kingdom consumers are well aware of the difference between Budvar’s beers and those of Anheuser-Busch, since their tastes, prices and get-ups have always been different”. He didn’t go as far as saying that InBev’s product from the US wasn’t a patch on the Czech beer, but the judge makes the sensible comment that the educated palette many people in the country are developing beer wise would definitely not confuse the two. The case is not yet technically finished as it has to return to the UK Court of Appeal, but let hope we see the end of this pointless litigation from the US based company soon.
And on that note, Happy Supping until next week.