Subversion from within?

The quarterly ‘Beer’ magazine from CAMRA definitely comes under the ‘quite



interesting’ tag, Des de Moor is a regular contributor. I think he is a ‘sleeper’ slowly being bought to life to subvert CAMRA from within.

This month Des is talking about London’s bottle conditioned beers and with a nod to guards old (Fuller’s) and young (Kernel) he then goes on to mention to name five beers in different styles from Partizan, Pressure Drop, Brixton, Hammerton and Anspach & Hobday. Well known breweries to London beer enthusiasts but hardly breweries that are discussed in CAMRA publications at length.

I long for the day when Kernel proudly put the CAMRA Real Ale In a Bottle (RAIB) on their labels and Pressure Drop win awards at the GBBF.

Until then how many CAMRA members have heard of, let alone tried these breweries beers. Might they be lured in? Do they know that these breweries use carbon dioxide in industrial (as opposed to craft 😉 amounts? I think Des is a sleeper, quietly coming to life.

Des has a great website and it’s erudite stuff. I would encourage anyone to read it. How strange that it carries an advert for dating Russian women?

And one final thought, which demonstrates what bizarre tangents I go off on sometimes. If CAMRA was a fascist organisation with genocidal tendencies, would they use carbon dioxide in their gas chambers? I like to think they would.


What’s Brewing, April – May 2015 – Agony Column

WB Apr May  15Providing much needed help for the writers to What’s Brewing.

In April it’s all about ‘Craft chaos’ and ‘zombie beers’. The great festival organiser MJ suggests that cask ales are easier to serve and dispense. To be honest this argument can be lanced with a suggestion that an adequate electricity supply is the answer. It remains the fact that a keg beer is much more likely to be served in the condition it left the brewery than a cask one. Dr DW of Crewe introduces me to the phrase ‘zombie beers’ – marvellous! CAMRA must surely take its rightful place as a latterday van Helsing and see off the undead beers. But hey, that’s suggesting there is life in these beers of a type that we can only fearfully comprehend. What dark forces are at work here? Are carbon dioxide and pasteurisation the devil incarnate?

The price of beer. AS of Cottingham points out that it costs more in bottles. £6.88 a pint! There are a few beers I wish I could buy at that price. Let’s draw breath and compare with the wine world, people don’t expect to buy a bottle of house red for the same price as a bottle of Chateau Petrus. Why should beer be any different?

Voice of reason – mention of the month – Prof GO asking for beers to be dispensed in thirds at festivals more widely (and therefore can we have more interesting strong beers).

In May we learn that ‘craft beer’ is a con trick. Even Fosters are using the word ‘crafted’! That’s the problem with words MH of Goole, anyone can use them. Basically there are crap ‘craft beers’, there are crap cask ales and anything that says crafted is almost certainly crap. Let your tastebuds decide! Obsession about an extra few pence a pint, love of mild (but nobody actually drinks it) and the need ‘familiar’ beers are also mentioned, oh dear, only one me and all of them.

Voice of reason – mention of the month – MC in volunteer voice, ‘diversify or die’. Prophetic.

Mild, what is it good for?

Thanks to JW in the April edition of What’s Brewing, this has been a hobby horse of mine for some time.

Notwithstanding the important part mild has played in our beer history and the millions whose thirst it has slaked over the years I think it is time to move on. Mild seems to have been on the verge of extinction for several decades now with campaigns regularly held to save it.

banksI well remember the decent beer desert that was the West Midlands in the 90’s. Banks’ Mild was extremely popular there but coming from the south I was severely disappointed. It was a style not often seen down south and I saw the reason why 😉

May is now fixed as ‘Mild Month’ by CAMRA, we are urged to get publicans to stock a mild and to try some milds. In my experience pubs stock beers they can sell and if they don’t regularly have a mild on then there is probably a good reason for it. Incidentally the list originally posted (currently down at time of writing) had only one mild in London listed, Clarkshaw’s in case you are interested.

It obliges me to point out, that among others in London, Hop Stuff Brewery has recentlyHSB Amarillo mild released an Amarillo Mild. Much though I love this brewery (being an investor also) and liked the sound of it the result is just a nicely made, unremarkable beer, not enough orangey Amarillo character for me. Perhaps I am missing the point of Mild? It’s happened before.

I like the idea of boosting the flavour with Amarillo of vanilla (East London Brewing in case you are wondering) but results consistently underwhelm.

As you can tell I am not a fan of mild, even more inventive modern ones. Tastes evolve, styles come in and out fashion, it’s normal. I believe beer drinkers have voted with their bellies. There will always be a place for mild but let’s stop flogging a dead horse and celebrate new beers instead.