Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Boring Brown Ale

Let me start by apologising for the lack of writings recently. I’d love to tell you that it’s because of some huge interesting events happening in my life but that would be a flagrant lie. The truth of the matter is that there has been nothing that has really inspired me to write a piece for this blog. There’s been a relative abundance of real ale related things going on over the summer months but I just haven’t really sat down and spent the time to write about them.

So what have I been up to? Firstly, an update on my homebrewing situation.  This summer I decided to make the step up from making kits to creating my own beer from malt extract and hops. The first attempt, which I joyfully named Lord Nelson IPA, was a single hop brew using quite large amounts of Nelson Sauvin hops. I decided to do a smaller batch than usual just in case it went horribly wrong. After bottling and leaving to condition for a few weeks, the results were surprisingly impressive. The feedback from friends who have tried the beer were generally good and I feel it was the first brew I’d done that didn’t have the distinctive homebrew twang. I’m hoping to repeat the brew this week with the addition of some more malt to balance out the quite pronounced hop bitterness. Depending on how this next brew turns out I may or may not enter it into the national homebrew championships. I’ve also decided that I’m going to have a go at brewing some traditional style ginger beer and alcoholic lemonade. I found the recipes online and I have no idea how they’re going to turn out.

After a recent trip to Scotland to visit some family members I returned with an abundance of Scottish bottled ales which I was excited to try. The overwhelmingly malty character of these Scottish beers would make a nice change from the usual assortment of hop bombs and imperial stouts that seem to be taking the blogging world by storm. Other members of our little community sometimes deride a brewer for making a good, tasty, no nonsense session beer and to me this stance holds no real weight. Most of the beer I drink is what I guess some bloggers would call “boring brown ale” but I like “boring brown ale”. It may not rock in at 8%+ and a million IBUs but some of it a tasty beer nonetheless. While I often deride pubs in my local area for serving only a few of, mainly the same, standard ales I also think that some pubs occasionally go a bit far and end up putting many people from drinking real ale. This is a point which stood out especially to me from the 2011-2012 Cask Report. While I think specialist beer bars have their place, mainly involving a clientele of wealthy, young fashionable people, there is still room in the market for solid traditional bitters. It baffles me that many of the new bourgeois craft brewers, mainly based around London and Sheffield (2 of the real power houses in the craft beer revival), can claim to be the victim of CAMRA keg bashing but then also deride the hundreds of slightly more reserved brewers who brew mainly to the market. I’d like to see James and Martin from BrewDog try and convinvce a small country pub that keg Hardcore IPA would sell as well as the cask Boddingtons they’ve stocked for 50 years.

The real point I’m trying to make here is that deriding someone for the beer they drink is both pathetic and useless. The market will inevitably be the deciding factor in which beer styles survive and at the moment it would seem that both American Quadruple IPA’s and 3.8% nutty bitters are here to stay; long may that continue in my opinion.