Tim Hampson's Beer Blog

The quest for the perfect beer

Alcohol releases the beast in religious people

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Monk drinking wine

Can this be so? New research reveals that people with higher levels of spirituality and religiousness are significantly more likely than their less religious counterparts to become aggressive and violent when drunk.
In fact, the American boffins found a close response between religious views, drinking too much and aggression.
The men and no doubt women in white coats found that the stronger the individual’s views about religion and spirituality were, the higher the hostility and aggression they exhibited while drinking.
According to the top brainbox, Professor Peter Giancola of University of Kentucky College of Arts and Sciences the research’s findings suggest that people are more likely to oversimplify when their under the influence of alcohol.
“Oversimplifying – in many cases the more religious someone is, the more aggressive they will become after drinking alcohol,” said Giancola.
The study involved 520 people between the ages of 21 and 35. All participants were from the central Kentucky region.
Researcher randomly distributed alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks after participants were surveyed about their spiritual beliefs.
Results from the study indicated that violence decreased as spirituality increased in persons who received the non-alcohol beverage.
However, quite unexpectedly, violence actually increased as spirituality increased in persons who received the alcohol beverage.
While the study showed that alcohol released the beast within in highly religious and conservative people, researchers have no idea why it happens.
These counter-intuitive findings clearly require replication, Giancola said, however, they indicate that alcohol “releases the beast within” in highly spiritual persons, though the reasons for this still remain unknown.
Perhaps some people shouldn’t drink to this.

Written by timhampson

August 24, 2014 at 7:12 pm

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The way we were – British Guild of Beer Writers judges 1993

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1993 judges

The way we were? Well we must have had colour photography 21 years ago, but….
This handsome quartet of men in suits and ties comprises the 1993 judging panel for the British Guild of Beer Writers Awards
Would four men in the media all wear ties today? I think the photo is taken in the Three Tuns behind Portman Square and I presume as a British Legion poppy is being worn it was early November.
Pictured from left are: Morse creator and author Colin Dexter, the esteemed Rob (Robert) Humphreys who at the time was “working” at Bass, David Young of the Times and Mike Ripley from the Brewers’ Society who was a real powerhouse behind the early awards and who contributed massively to the survival of the Guild in its early days.
After several beers and many deliberations the Gold award was given to the marvellous Brian Glover, Silver went to the great Michael Jackson, while Peter Cordell Ruth Herman and Barrie Pepper were all highly commended.

Written by timhampson

August 21, 2014 at 2:27 pm

Still time to enter the Guild of Beer Writers’ Annual Awards

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 Britsh Guild of Beer Writers Annual Awards

LogoBeer writers, broadcasters and bloggers, take note!

Entries to this year’s British Guild of Beer Writers’ Awards close on Friday, 5th September.Don’t miss out on your chance to win one of our eight category awards and a share of the £9,500 prize fund.
The competition is open to writers, broadcasters, photographers, poets, illustrators, designers, webmasters and bloggers whose work has broadened the public’s knowledge of beer and pubs over the past year. You do NOT have to be a member of the Guild of Beer Writers to enter and we welcome nominations by third parties – so if you have been impressed by a press article, book or blog about beer, please think about entering it.
This year, entries are welcomed in eight different categories, including the Best Young Beer Writer, introduced for the 2014 competition. All of the categories – apart from Corporate Communications – offer prize money for the winner and most for a runner up as well. Winners of each category and the overall Beer Writer of the Year 2014 will be announced at the Guild’s annual Awards dinner, which is being held on Thursday 4th December at the Jumeirah Carlton hotel in Knightsbridge.
Judging this year’s entries is a panel of judges chaired by Will Hawkes, current Beer Writer of the Year. The judges are: Will Dean, editor of the Independent magazine; Natalie Whittle, associate editor, FT Magazine; Tim Hulme, chief executive of the BII and Georgina Young, brewing manager at Fuller Smith & Turner.
Full details of how to enter the Awards, including a list of the categories, criteria and downloadable entry and nomination forms, can be found on the British Guild of Beer Writers website http://www2.beerguild.co.uk/?page_id=2162
Entries for this year’s Awards must have been published between 1 September 2013 and 31 August 2014.


Written by timhampson

August 21, 2014 at 9:53 am

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Sophie Grigson talks humble pie and I big up beer

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One of my all-time favourite cookery books – has to be Sophie Grigson’s Eat Your Greens.

It was a ground breaker when it first published and the creative simplicity and inventiveness of the recipes make it still a must read book for any budding home cook.

So it was great to meet Sophie, when I was doing my regular beery spot on BBC Oxford’s Sunday lunchtime show Garden Kitchen which is hosted by Phil Mercer.

We’ve done several live broadcasts since then – and now I am joining Sophie as one of the hosts at her famed pop-up cookery school.

Pies and beer – Grigson and Hampson – it sounds the perfect foodie combination. So if you fancy an evening learning about how to make the perfect pie, paired with some of the fabulous beers which are brewed around Oxford, then come and join us.

Sophie is going to talk humble pie and I’m going to big up some great beers.

Sophie will be teaching how to make some classic pies (she’s thinking chicken and Jerusalem artichoke, fitchett pie (apple and lamb), and a handsome Cumberland tart.

My challenge is to find beers which match her creations.

The evening will be relaxed, wine drinkers don’t worry you’ll enjoy the beers, and above all it’ll be a lot of fun.

Come and join us.

Pie & Beer! – Thursday 20th February 2014

Go to http://www.sophiescookeryschool.com/event/pie-beer-thursday-20th-february-2014/ for more details.



Written by timhampson

February 3, 2014 at 5:10 pm

Fancy a big banger and some beer?

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I’m not sure why I smile every time I say the word sausage. But if you fancy a big banger and some beer? Then come and enjoy a sausage and beer evening at the Big Bang restaurant on 31 January. www.thebigbangrestaurants.co.uk

Oxford champion of local sausages is Oxford’s “Man About Town” and restaurateur Max Mason who will talk porkies and I’ll chat about the suds.

Max is planning spicy bangers, something gamey and probably a locally made Oxfordshire porkie flavoured with apple.

There’ll be beers from some great local brewers – Cotswold, Lovibonds, Siren and Compass and we’ll finish off with a snifter of a beer which has been aged in a Kentucky bourbon barrel.

Max says for £20 per head, he’s offering the experience of four different beers, all paired with four of his finest bangers, and there’ll probably be mash too. And plans to finish the gastronomy off with a ginger pudding.

So for a right banging time call 01865 249413 or email bookings@thebigbangoxford.co.uk

The Big Bang | 42 Oxford Castle Quarter, Oxford





Written by timhampson

January 29, 2014 at 11:01 am

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Peter Austin – the man who brewed a thumping good pint

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Peter Austin, the man who brewed a thumping good pint, who is widely regarded as the inspiration for many of today’s brewers has died aged 92.

Regarded as the most influential brewer of his era, his help and inspiration was fundamental in the creation of hundreds of brewers worldwide.

There cannot be many other brewers who can claim to have influenced so many who set up breweries in the 1970 and early 1980s.

He set up the Ringwood Brewery, Hampshire in 1978 and demonstrated there was a market for local beer. He was also instrumental in the founding of SIBA – the Society of Independent Brewers – in 1980 and became its first chairman.

His brewing career began in 1942, during World War II, at the Friary Brewery in Guildford and then there was a spell at Morrells in Oxford. He moved to the Hull Brewery, where eventually he became head brewer before retiring in 1975. But, brewing was in his blood and his work was far from over. He was intrigued by a small brewery opened by a former Watney brewer Bill Urquart, who opened the Litchborough Brewery, in a barn next to his house in 1974. At the time, there were only a handful of small brewers in the country.

Peter along with other early brewing pioneers of the micro-revolution, including Simon Whitmore (Butcombe) and Nigel Fitzhugh (Blackawton) came to Urquart, to find out how to do it.

At Ringwood he created some iconic beers including Old Thumper, CAMRA’s Champion Beer of Britain in 1988 and Fortyniner.

He was also became a brewing consultant and small-scale equipment manufacturer and it is this that really made his mark.

Peter Austin & Partners provided a “complete brewery package” for small brewers. He showed that it was possible to build a new brewery with limited capital, and this played a key role in facilitating the growth in the numbers of small brewers.

Among the early entrepreneurs he supplied were David Bruce (Firkin) and Mark Wallington (Archers) but there were many others both in this country and later around the world. Between 1977 and 1984, he installed many breweries in the UK, the United States of America, Bavaria, Belgium and Ireland.

Peter was also a pioneering campaigner for Progressive Beer Duty, without which many of today’s brewers would not be in business. In August 1984 he wrote: “I believe there is now an overwhelming case for small UK brewers to be given duty concessions just the same as in every other brewing nation in the EEC.”

Today, his legacy is a thriving scene for small, local brewers, not just in the UK but worldwide.

Written by timhampson

January 4, 2014 at 4:17 pm

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British Guild of Beer Writers honours Derek Prentice with brewer of year award

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One of the highlights of the British Guild of Beer Writers annual dinner is the announcement made for our brewer of the year. The award is made by the committee following nominations from the membership.

This year’s accolade was given to Derek Prentice, pictured left. In making Derek our brewer of the year – we paid tribute to someone who has made an unmatched contribution to London’s vibrant and vital brewing scene.

I don’t know if there is such a thing as a London brewer, but if there is, then this man is it. He is held in high esteem by his peers and also in the wider community of those who love beer.

He started work at the age of 17 in 1968 and across his more than 45 years career he has worked for four of the Capital’s greatest known brewing names – Truman’s, Watney’s, Young’s and Fuller’s.

He is an outstanding and meticulous brewer who still passionately believes in the romance of brewing. In his current job at Fuller’s, which continues to the end of the month, not only is he the curator of some celebrated beers, but he has helped develop some great new ones too – including Seafarer, Frontier, Imperial Stout and Past Master. That’s quite a legacy.

His vast experience and attention to detail combine in perfect harmony. Always genial and enthusiastic, he generally avoids the limelight, but he richly deserves to enjoy the admiration which this award expresses.

Written by timhampson

December 9, 2013 at 3:52 pm


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