State of the Nation!

Discussion in 'The Beer Forum' started by Rob Lockwood, Dec 10, 2019.

  1. Not posted on beer for a while but am buying towards Christmas celebrations and was musing on what's now available. I'm talking about the British beer scene but obviously welcome thoughts from outside the UK as well!

    Every supermarket now has a fair selection of "craft" cans, most pubs are also upping their offer with additional bottles, micropubs and bottle shops are everywhere. So what do we think? Here's a few top-of-head thoughts, firstly some more factual stuff:
    • Well over half of the craft beers on the supermarket shelves are New World/US-style heavily-hopped Pale Ale / IPA types.
    • Focus seems to be on these, "craft lagers", quirky fruit-flavoured stuff etc and then wider offerings from more established craft brewers, Brewdog being the most obvious
    • There are very few attempts at European (Belgian / German) styles in these craft beer sections, and not much expansion in the actual European ranges
    • Many of the supermarkets are to be applauded for favouring local brews
    And a few opinions:
    • For the NW/US styles, many of these are pretty identikit (for my tastebuds), with "Session IPA"s seemingly being the default at the moment, amazing for a style which seems to have been created in the last 2/3 years! For me, these seem to be watered-down USIPAs and tend not to work as well as American Pale Ales
    • For other styles, I've tasted very few British or American attempts that were anywhere near the originals
    • It seems a pity that the focus on "craft beer", with its focus on quite a narrow set of NW/US styles, hasn't translated to seeing a wider range of non-NW/US styles on the shelves. For example, to my knowledge only M&S has a Munich Helles, which must be an easy sell to a lager-drinking nation? And where are the Dunkels, the Dubbels, the Saisons?
    It's all pretty good news though :)
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  2. I don't really get craft beer, being of an age which saw CAMRA and its championship of beer from the handpump and bottle conditioned ales. They often seem like new versions of Long Life and Double Diamond with massive doses of hop essence.
    The cheapness, quality and availability of bottled beer are remarkable now. I remember when a bottle cost more than a pint in the pub. I find pints of beer in the pub extraordinarily expensive though the standard is better than a decade ago.
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  3. Heavy hopping doesn't do much for me, so yes that trend passes me by

    quirky fruit flavoured stuff does appeal, but fair to say that a lot miss the mark, or are superficially interesting, but not enough for a 2nd glass. I rather enjoy rosemary in beer though and Italian liquorice infused ales appeal as well (they use good quality liquorice there wihich helps), lemon also something that I tend to like

    The local brewing scene is incredibly buoyant, ridiculously so at times and our village even acquired a brewery, though it is a craft beer specialist.

    Still plenty of joy in traditional continental styles, plus our own porters and milds.

    It's a much more appealing scene than when I first started going to pubs.
    Rob Lockwood likes this.
  4. Is there such a thing as craft beer from a handpump?
    Pubs have certainly changed. I used sometimes to relish a really grotty one but the smoking ban finished them off.
    Rob Lockwood likes this.
  5. A question for the ages Tom! I think quite a few of Thornbridge's, which are at least modern, and probably "craft", are available in cask, not keg.

    Depends what craft means I suppose: I lazily interpret it to be "not just churning out the same old rubbish churned out for decades", so it's new breweries making beers in whatever style, and beers made by older breweries which aren't tradtional to the region/country. In Belgo a week ago, I'd say St Bernardus Abt 12 isn't craft but those on the "modern" part of the "menu" are; London Pride isn't, Montana Red is. Anything which isn't lager but is in a 330ml can is craft, certainly if it's British. Very unlikely to get these in cask though.

    Incidentally, I pay £2.15 a pint in my local Wetherspoons, so you (or I) may be going to the wrong places. ;)
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2019
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  6. 3 flavours I haven't seen Ian, but which sound interesting. I scoured Bologna for "traditional Italian grape ale" but couldn't find it. Just banged it into Google and as some characters are trying to brand it IGA, it may raise the profile and give me a chance of getting it!

    I've enjoyed an Adnams spruce ale, the peach one Badger do/did, Banana Bread, some honey beers and of course Kriek/Framboise, but they're hard to get right, hence not being first into my basket at the s-market.
    Ian Sutton likes this.
  7. Hi Rob
    Birra Dama (IIRC) do a Barbera grape influenced beer called (in a rather bi-lingual punny way) l'uva beer. Well worth a try if you see it.

    Going back a few decades, the father of one of my classmates, used to brew his own beer and would often ask us to taste his inventions. They were always good, but an orange infused beer was a genuine standout - and a good reminder that refreshment is a very good thing.

    Rob Lockwood likes this.
  8. Great subject for a thread, that merits some further pondering. In the meantime here is an example I recently enjoyed of "quirky fruit-flavoured stuff etc" which also doubles as a political statement --> there is much to enjoy about the current multi-faceted beer scene, even as compared with 5 years ago

    Attached Files:

    Rob Lockwood likes this.
  9. Wetherspoons is not currently on my list, Rob!
    Rob Lockwood likes this.
  10. 8D1B97B2-A72F-40D3-A20C-8215E0D60E73.jpeg £3.40-£3.80/pint in my local Micropub in Deal,Kent which I consider remarkable value, particularly on a Sunday lunchtime when you get free cheese, crackers and even roast potatoes from a chicken take away next door. No craft ale here, just four or five casks kept at 12C in the back room and tapped off on demand, no pumps or pipes to clean.
  11. On this topic, could I just post a link to what you might describe as the great Fyfe Robertson's “State of the Nation 1973”. The sloshed CAMRA guy in the second segment is clearly 6th dan in talking wibble
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  12. Fantastic!
  13. 9760EF96-D9AB-4140-9643-54C5736FEDA1.png Last night’s offerings.
  14. One of each Jim? ;)
    Jim Agar likes this.
  15. In my formative years, for sure!
    Rob Lockwood likes this.
  16. I've not had the Cotleigh Xmas beer for a while. But few of these Xmas specials seem strong enough for a proper winter warmer I don't think. I had one that had a bit more stuffing the other night: Stonehenge's Rudolph -dark, serious, almost treacly and with just enough bitterness to balance. Daleside's Santa's Progress was a bit more feeble at 4.2% but made up for it with a pleasing sweetness, possibly due to the "seasonal fruits" mentioned on the pump clip.

    I tend towards the paler styles most of the year, but the darker malts are great this time of year!
  17. Incidentally, having set myself a bit of a challenge in creating the thread(!), I tested my hypothesis by buying a few random cans from various supermarkets and have kind of confirmed my theory - the US style IPA/APAs seem all much of a muchness such that when I went to Morrison's yesterday I stuck to trad Brit ales...

    New points though:
    • There's a few brewers who are either better quality or whose style I like who seem to produce better beers in this style than most - I've found Magic Rock, Harbour, Beavertown, Sierra Nevada and Brooklyn to do the job (though not necessarily right the way across their ranges). Also, in bottles rather than cans, Thornbridge.
    • The M&S offerings seem to be better chosen and made than the average, but perhaps no surprise there
    • There seemed to be quite a few "milkshake" beers at Morrisons. Yes, milkshake. I didn't trouble the cashiers with these, but if anyone's tried any of them, let us know what they are and whether any worth trying. I thought fruit was "quirky". :)
    The other purchase was a 15 of various Munich lagers, which, if absolutely destroying my above theory about darker beers in winter(!), at least shows I can get these in the UK. For now... :(
    Jim Agar likes this.
  18. Enjoying Dunkel lagers and winter bocks which provide much refreshment and sweet malty delights. ABK festbier on draught at 5% but packing lots of flavour. Have a bottle of Ayinger winter bock lined up for the festive break alongside Christmas classics such as Delirium and N'Ice Chouffe.
    Rob Lockwood likes this.
  19. Nice one Keith. One of my Munichs is the ABK Festbier, so it'll be interesting to see how it performs in bottle.

    St Peter's Plum Porter last night which was interesting (and of course quirky-fruity!) and full of stuffing but for me just a touch too bitter for the sweet fruit. Aventinus and Thornbridge's Serpent to be consumed at some point.
  20. Hi Rob
    By chance I had that Plum Porter (on tap) a couple of weeks ago. Interesting for sure, but for me a one glass beer (FWIW more for the fruit being a bit too overt - but overall one where I just think they need to turn the dial down a bit to deliver more drinkability)
  21. Keg Ian? The fruit is overt - I don't mind that in a winter beer, but wouldn't order a second as you say.
  22. Hi Rob, no a handpump (Louis Marchesi in Norwich)
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  23. What I want is more stouts and porters and malty beers. Most of the new beers tend to be IPAs or kettle sours with fruit added. The sour beers are okay but lack any depth of flavour(Elgoods do an excellent "proper" sour beer but this is not available in supermarkets)

    At one time I used to seek out heavily hopped beers but these have now become so common that I now tend to avoid them.

    I did buy a 7% chocolate stout with sour cherries in Waitrose. This was a collaboration between Wild Beer and Magic Rock. I also got an 11% wood-aged lager brewed by Camden there. I have not yet tried either of these.
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  24. A Marmite beer I expect and probably not to Alan's taste but a 10 pint take away of Oakham Citra was perfect for a cleansing ale after various wines,Ports and spirits yesterday. A few pints left for some beef and horseradish sandwiches later:heaven!
  25. I have had the Oakham Citra in bottle before during the post Morrison's beer festival bargain hunt a couple of years ago, and I really liked it.
    Jim Agar likes this.

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