Friday 7 September 2007

Hooray for Open-Minded Editors

A beer piece, in Sainsbury's Magazine - surely not I hear you cry! Isn't that one for 'the ladies'?

But hats off to Sue Robinson (the editor), she was an instant convert to the beer cause after falling in love with a Meantime Porter and Valharona chocolate dessert match at a lunch I worked on for the English Beef & Lamb Executive and decided to commission the piece as a result of experiencing the amazing qualities of different beers first hand - so thanks for being so open-minded Sue (and for ignoring Ian Botham's continued attempts to feed you wine instead!).

My point behind this post is that too often we beer nerds think that telling people what they want to drink is the way to convert them to the beer cause, but I disagree.

The key for me is education and passion on the subject of beer, not patronisation or fundamentalist attitudes.

For example: I held a tasting last night at the Printer's Devil in Fetter Lane, London for a group of lawyers and their clients at which there was one woman and one man who both said they never drink beer at the beginning of the evening.

By going right back to basics about how alcohol is made, how beer was discovered, dispelling myths about some mainstream brands containing chemicals and giving a bit of a story behind some of the beers, the original beer-avoiders left swearing to experiment more - what more can you ask?


Anonymous said...

does this website exist only to promote your sub-literate writing?

Melissa Cole said...

I'll presume that's a rhetorical question!

MicMac said...

(oh well, I must be a sub-literate reader, as I'm enjoying it - point us to your Wildean written wonders O Brave Anonymous one!)

Anyway, I'm curious Melissa - what were the 'myths about mainstream beers containing chemicals'? As AFAIK some of them definitely do contain some odd things (though perhaps none quite so bloody weird as isinglass!). Cheers MikeMcG

Melissa Cole said...

ha ha, cheers Mike, I thought it was a very brave comment too.

Please excuse my ignorance but what do you mean by AFAIK? And whilst isinglass is odd - you've got to think that it was discovered when some tit threw fish guts in the brew - at least it's not chemical!

The myths have always been that there's something weird in Stella - the simple fact of the matter is that people started drinking Stella at the same rate as they drank Carling or similar and just refuse to believe that the reason they then threw up after a kebab and had the urge to kick the cat/Mrs was because of the strength of the beer!

Because heaven forefend that anyone British would say they can't handle their booze!

So the myth that Stella (and therefore all mainstream lagers) contain something chemical started.

I'm not defending these brands because I like drinking them - I don't - it's because this kind of rumour damages beer full stop.

Hope that mini rant answers your question! I'll put a link up for your site.

MicMac said...

AFAIK is net-abbreviate for "as far as I know" (yes, I have spent too much time online & not enough drinking or brewing in recent years!).

re isinglass, I read this yesterday "it’s interesting to speculate on how brewers and winemakers discovered its clarifying properties. Garrett Oliver, the brewmaster for the Brooklyn Brewery, suggests that air bladders were once used as containers for ale and wine, and when people noticed that the hazy liquids held within were coming out crystal clear they figured out something in the bladder was acting to clarify them."
it's possible, I guess?
(quote from Eric Asmiov of the NewYorkTimes -

Talking of odd myths though, a regular one goes around that there is a new veggie-friendly fining material which will do the job of isinglass (i.e. settle a cask reliably after it's been rolled around a few times, then stillaged in a pub cellar). I've yet to find the stuff if there is & I doubt any manufacturer would keep quiet about it if they did!

Re Stella & it's (alleged) reputation for inciting domestic violence, I strongly suspect you're right. I worked with a former brewer of the beer at Magor (S.Wales) who said it
was brewed to a fairly tight spec, with quality ingredients & was a pretty well-made beer, unlike many mass-brew UK lagers.

Re other odd (dodgier) stuff largely used in mass-brewed beer - the beer menu at The Porterhouse, Dublin (poss London too?) has/used to have a whole list of approved additives (which they eschew) some of them don't seem too traditional or pleasant, if memory serves. I have a copy somewhere & will try to hunt it out, but I'd be surprised if it or something similar isn't online somewhere too.

Cheers for the link to the site, I'll get my web-literate friend to do one back & once I get on & write it, I'm going to mention your blog & Stonch's as 2 of my current online favourite beery things in my very irregular customer 'Brewsletter'.