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.
“You can’t be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline.” Frank Zappa
Of course beer matters, it really does. And it is for this reason that so many writers and artists use beer and pubs in their creations.
And I have to say, I have been taken with an oft quoted quote from the legendary, musician Frank Zappa.
“You can’t be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline,” said the founder of the Mothers of Invention, who died in 1993.
The band made one of my favourite albums “Weasels ripped my flesh”, in 1970.
The Zappa beer quote has been used many times on beery websites and in books.
Indeed, when doing research for both World Beer (Dorling Kindersley) and the Haynes Beer Manual (Haynes Publishing) I considered using the quote in chapters on beer in literature.
But I was intrigued by the context, why did he say it, and when?
So I am totally indebted to a fellow beer traveller Laurent Mousson, who is co-founder of French microbreweries collective Front Hexagonal de Libièration (www.libieration.org) who provided me with the information.
According to Laurent the quote is from “The Real Frank Zappa Book” written by Zappa and Peter Occhiogrosso, published in 1989, Chapter 12, page 231.
Laurent says the problem with the oft used quote is that “it’s usually misunderstood, because it’s always quoted out of context, as Zappa utters it as a tongue-in-cheek statement in support of his theory on beer that consumption of beer leads to pseudo-military behaviour”.
Beer drinkers are nationalists, believe in conformity and revel in collective violence.
And “winos don’t march!”
So what is the quote in full?
“Every major industrialised nation has a beer (You can’t be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline – it helps if you have some kind of football team, or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need a beer).”
Zappa, is clearly not such a lover of the suds as in the same book he also says “Maybe there’s a chemical in beer that stimulates the [male] brain to do violence while moving in the same direction as other guys who smell like them.”
“Funny how nobody ever quotes that last bit,” says Laurent.
I have to say I love Zappa’s music, but the way the quote is used shows how little we properly analyse rhetoric and are willing to use a familiar or commonly shared quotation to support an a point of view.
However, as Zappa would say “This Is All Wrong”.
What a brilliant satirist he was.
When I had a car which was mechanical rather than electronic, my Haynes Manuals were essential companions.
With one I was able to change an engine on my much-loved Ford 105E and another helped me keep a knackered Triumph Acclaim on the road, way past its scrap by date.
And it wasn’t until I was commissioned to write the Haynes Beer Manual, that I truly realised how iconic the Haynes name is to so many people.
So the Beer Manual is my humble attempt to apply the unique Haynes Manual practical treatment to the world of beer and introduce people to the wonderful range of beers and the drink’s rich social past, which is entwined throughout our history and culture.
Case studies chart the journeys of brewers who have turned the rewarding hobby of home brewing into viable businesses. And I attempted to describe the huge variety of aromas, tastes, colours and strengths that can be created by brewers, whether professionals working for large international brewers or amateur enthusiasts in their kitchens at home.
According to my publishers “this is the essential guide for new and experienced home brewers, and for readers wishing to learn a little more about beer’s journey from the hop fields to the glass.”
I hope people enjoy it.
The Practical Guide to Beer and Brewing
Published by Haynes
Having just returned from being a chair of one of the judging panels for this year’s World Cheese Awards – it makes a change from beer – I’ve certainly found a way of upping my cholesterol count.
Sampling 45 cheeses in two hours is quite a task. But someone had to do it!
More than 3,000 top cheeses were expected at the competition, which is a centrepiece of the BBC Good Food Show, NEC Birmingham.
However, the hopes of the organisers were totally cheesed off (No more cheese jokes please – Ed) when the organisers claimed a new Brussels directive prevented Japan, South Africa and Brazil from competing in the Olympics of cheese.
“Is this the thin end of the wedge?” asked one of the organisers who was appealing to the to the Food Standards Agency to help overturn an EU ruling that prevents Japan, South Africa and several countries from South America, including Brazil, importing samples of cheese for judging.
A recent change to EU legislation over concerns about animal health rules and the safe handling of milk means that a number of countries have been denied permission by DEFRA, which is following the strict letter of the law of the EU directive, to enter the world’s largest international cheese competition.
Top cheese Bob Farrand, chairman of the World Cheese Awards, was completely pissed off.
The grand fromage said: “This is extremely sad for several hundred artisan cheese makers around the world. The World Cheese Awards is their global event but these EU regulations are preventing them from entering.
“Many small rural businesses benefit enormously from winning at the Awards and this country benefits from much needed overseas revenue.”
For more than 10 years Farrand has applied for, and have been granted, permission by DEFRA to import artisan cheeses from outside the EU.
And he follows the importation rules to the letter – which means the imported cheeses, have to be incinerated after the event.
Farrand continued: “The ruling prohibits entry of cheeses from Japan into the EU and yet last June I judged at the Mondiale du Fromage in France and tasted several Japanese cheeses.
“Clearly other countries don’t kowtow to Brussels in quite the same way we do. It means we’ll have to think seriously about taking the World Cheese Awards abroad in future.”
It would be shame if the awards did move to another country. Still, one cheese maker from Germany did have plenty to shout about at the end of the day.
Celebrations were the order of the day in Bavaria as a cheese made by a family dairy Kaserei Champignon has taken not just the top World Champion spot, but second place too with the same cheese.
The Montagnolo Affiné, pictured above, a creamy blue cheese, impressed the world’s top cheese judges The cheese had been entered into two different classes in the World Cheese Awards and when judges re-judged, tasted and voted the final 15 Super Golds, the cheese came both first and second.
It’s the first time a German cheese has won the top honour.
Hopefully, next year, cheeses from the banned countries will once again be able to take part in this competition, and those who control the importation of cheese into the UK will allow them in - for they really do know best.
“Encyclopedic in scope, this book is a craft-beer lover’s dream, with details about more than 800 breweries and 1,000 beers from Europe, the Americas, Asia, Australia and Africa.” – The Tampa Tribune
“This is the kind of book to drink a beer over. The photography is top-notch, particularly the hundreds of bottle labels reproduced in high quality throughout. Verdict: Recommended to budding craft beer enthusiasts seeking a broader…understanding of world beer culture delivered in package that’s easy on the eyes.” – Library Journal
This is a great book for anyone who enjoys craft beer. The beginning of the book provides a history of beer and the craft beer revolution as well as an explanation of the brewing process. It also explains different beer styles and flavor pairings and explains how to pour and taste beer for ultimate enjoyment. The majority of the book lists breweries around the world as well as some of the beers they’re known for. As you would expect with a DK book the write-ups are top notch and the photographs are outstanding. This hefty coffee table book would make an excellent addition to any beer drinker’s library.
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Program
DK Publishing does not disappoint with “World Beer”. The content, however, is even more compelling. As a Diplom Bier Sommelier, German Beer is my area of expertise and the chapter on Germany drew my immediate attention. Most beer books discuss the major German breweries and their offerings in detail. World Beer, however, sifts through the “noise” of the big brew houses and focuses instead on the smaller tier of producers who are making some very special beers. Seeing Camba Bavaria, Schönram, Riegele, and Pyraser profiled next to the more famous Schlenkerla, Schneider, and Ürige made me take notice that this isn’t just another beer atlas with pretty pictures. In some ways this book could better be called “World Craft Beer,” but it also discusses some, but not all, of the larger producers who would not fit into the “Craft” category.
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Program
Burton on Trent is quite simply one of the greatest brewing towns the world has ever seen.
Within it is the National Brewery Centre (NBC), The United Kingdom’s premier museum dedicated to brewing.
The museum, formerly known as the Bass Museum, was set up in 1977. Its galleries include an exhibition on how beer is made, a collection of vintage vehicles used for transporting beer and an interactive display about Burton’s history.
Underpinning the work of the Centre is the National Brewery Heritage Trust (NBHT).
The NBHT supports the work of the museum and its collections and was initially formed following the closure of the then Coors Visitor Centre in 2008. In November 2009, Molson Coors reached an agreement with the leisure company Planning Solutions to run the museum and visitor centre and it reopened in April 2010 following some refurbishment work.
The NBHT seeks to broaden the scope of the museum’s collections, and ensure that historical brewing records and artefacts from across the United Kingdom are preserved.
The NBHT’s ambition is to fund exhibitions, acquisitions and development of the NBC’s facilities by encouraging individual and corporate membership of the trust.
Now the NBHT is set to have a formal launch with an event 0n 8 October at the NBC.
NBHT Chairman Keith Norris said: “This is a defining landmark in the development of the working group culminating in the successful registration as the National Brewery Heritage Trust.”
“This not only enhances the prestige of the centre but will enable us to accept charitable donations in order to expand and renovate the existing collection. We will also be able to bid for funding to support major development projects.”
The museum is an invaluable, unique, irreplaceable resource. Nothing on its scale exists anywhere else in Britain. Burton and the museum are intertwined and it is essential that people support the NBHT.
The museum includes a unique collection of brewing vehicles – including the Ale 1 number plate.
Burton’s reputation has travelled far and wide from the time when the monks of Burton Abbey discovered that the region’s hard water from gypsum-bearing rocks was ideal for brewing ale.
By the 1620s the town’s good quality brewing water was renowned not just locally but in distant London.
In the 19th century Burton was one of the wonder towns of the industrial revolution and the country’s equivalent of a silicon valley.
And the name Bass, the King of Brewers, was the best known firm in the British Empire.
The quality of Burton water was so renowned that up to the 1950s one Bolton brewer, Magee Marshall, transported water from its own Burton well by rail tankers to its brewery in Lancashire.
From Bombay to the Baltic, Burton beers have slaked the thirsts of millions – and the town’s name has become a byword for excellence in brewing.
And still today Burton is the most important brewing town in the country.
We take our beer seriously in this country – lets show how seriously we take it by supporting the work on the NBHT.
National Brewery Centre
Go to http://www.nationalbrewerycentre.co.uk for information on the museum, opening times and events.
UK beer sales fell by 4.8 per cent in the second quarter of 2013, according to the British Beer & Pub Association’s quarterly Beer Barometer, so why are so many brewers recording record sales?
Losses in the on-trade (pubs, bars and restaurants) were higher at 5.8 per cent. Off-trade sales also fell, but the 3.6 per cent fall was the lowest second quarter fall since 2005.
As the sun is traditionally the brewer’s best salesman the current good weather will be good news. But the industry’s figures don’t reflect the spring in the steps of many brewers as reflected in some of the stories I have written for CAMRA’s What’s Brewing this month.
They show that for some brewers their fermenters are not just half full but overflowing, it makes me want to know whose are half empty.
The Hog’s Back Brewery has recorded a 30 per cent growth in sales in the first months of the year and now its investing in new equipment.
New fermentation and conditioning vessels have been ordered for the brewery, which is based in Tongham, Surrey.
The Yorkshire brewer Ilkley has invested in a new cask filling machine and will soon be increasing its brewing capacity by an additional 33 per cent to 160 brewers’ barrels or 46,000 pints a week.
Later this summer, the brewery will also acquire a new 40 barrel fermenter which will boost real ale production even further.
Saltaire Brewery is expanding its team with four new recruits and increasing brewing capacity by 30 per cent to meet the growing demand for its hand crafted ales in the North of England, and increasingly beyond its heartland of West Yorkshire.
Tony Gartland, Managing Director, sees this next stage in the development of the brewery as a step change in its ambition to be one of the leading breweries in the North of England.
“Growth in the premium ale sector is strong and we’ve grown ahead of the market. In the last couple of years our bottled beer sales have doubled. Capacity is a challenge, so as well as growing our team, we’ve invested £100,000 in our production infrastructure which will enable us to increase our capacity by 30 per cent by the end of this year.”
Acorn Brewery has celebrated its 10th birthday with the announcements of a £70,000 investment in new equipment
In the past three months Acorn sales grown by 16 per cent over the same period in 2012 and the brewer is now commissioning a state-of-the-art cask- washing equipment, extra conditioning tanks and a keg filler.
So who is hurting Carlsberg, Heineken Molson Coors, AB-InBev, SABMiller, the companies behind the generic Let There Be Beer Campaign which is currently on TV? I don’t know, but according to the Grocer magazine Britain’s biggest alcohol brands are falling faster than the total drinks market.
The full Beer Barometer excel tables can be downloaded from the BBPA www.beerandpub.com