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    Hops and Glory: One Man's Search for the Beer That Built the British Empire
    by Pete Brown
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Beer News: NZ Craft Beer TV and the decline of German beer

After days of driving, tonnes of talking, gallons of sampling and seven whole hours doing the voiceover for one episode, the boys of NZ Craft Beer TV, Luke Nicholas and Kelly Ryan, have proudly launched the first episode of their ground-breaking show into the beer universe.  For those that don't know, this project is described as:
Film crew in tow, they travelled the country by camper van, covering almost 4500 kilometres as they documented the current craft beer scene. Visiting breweries, sampling beers, discussing brewery history and the passion that had resulted in people from all walks of life choosing brewing as their occupation, the pair’s progress was captured on camera to be used in an online video series.
The first episode can also be viewed on YouTube here and here.  It is seriously good stuff.
Next up, a particularly insightful article about a beer market some tend to view with rose-tinted glasses - Germany.  Not only is is "Braueresisterben: The Sad State of German Beer Culture" hard-hitting and well-argued, it contains several memorable pieces of writing including:
While it's true that last fall's 200th Oktoberfest was bigger than ever, using Oktoberfest to measure the health of German beer culture is like using Disney World admissions to measure the health of American cinema.  Once a decorous wedding pageant, Oktoberfest is a hot mess, with cheesy carnival rides and hordes chugging cheap lager as if it were Hawaiian Punch.  Paris Hilton even showed up for the anniversary celebration.
Trouble is, the Reinheitsgebot is now working against the very industry it was supposed to preserve. For one, it puts a vise grip on innovation by demonizing flavor- or body-enhancing additions of any kind: oats, ancient grains (such as spelt, millet, and sorghum), spices, herbs, honey, flowers other than hops, and any other natural fermentable starches and sugars. This taboo rules out trying Belgian, French, and New World brewing styles, which often call for refermentation in the bottle with sugar in a manner similar to Champagne.
Glass Tip - Albanian agent Ana for the German beer story and the opportunity to use my favourite tag on this site...

Beer News: Use for XXXX finally found and what would Boonie say?

From the Courier-Mail, the heart-warming story of a horse being saved by a bottle of beer.  Under the fully explanatory headline "XXXX beer brings horse back from the dead after bout of colic", the story explains how a couple of bottles of XXXX restored an apparently dying horse because they were "gassy":

Colic is often fatal to horses and opinion is divided on how it can best be treated.  But Steve thinks he is on to a winner with the nectar of the gods.  "It bloody well worked," he said.  "I am not sure of the science behind it, but because it's gassy it can give them some relief in their stomachs.  He ended up taking quite a shine to XXXX so I had to get him off the grog or he was going to cost me a fortune."

Next up is confirmation that wine sales are expected to outstrip beer sales in Australia within a decade.  The Telegraph reports "Australians turn away beer as wine threatens to overtake sales":

The consumption of beer has dropped by almost half to its lowest level in 50 years while wine sales have increased three fold during the same period, a report compiled by the Australian Bureau of Statistics has shown.  "Over the past 50 years, the level of apparent consumption of different alcoholic beverages has changed substantially," concluded the report, entitled "No Longer a Nation of Beer Drinkers".

It is telling that a story which could have examined the seismic social shifts which has seen beer drop and wine rise so dramatically in a relatively short period of time chose not to go much beyond clichés like 'wine is more sophisticated', 'women don't like beer' and 'examples' such as Les Patterson (fictional comedic character) and David Boon (the still unconfirmed 52 can legend). 
For the record, I Believe in Boonie.
Glass Tip - Darwin correspondent Belinda for the horse story, North Korean correspondent Ana for the Australian beer consumption link

Beerly Blogging: Brew Masters and Breakfast Beers

Tonight, is a rare chance to see beer treated with the respect it deserves.  From over at the Beer and Brewer blog, here is my post titled "Kiwi craft brewery does it like they do on the Discovery Channel":

New Zealand stars in tonight’s episode of the acclaimed Brew Masters series on the Discovery Channel.  The show is hosted by Sam Caligione who is a unique combination of maverick brewer, beer ambassador, mad scientist and craft pin-up boy.  As part of his global journey, he tours New Zealand to experience our craft scene and to brew a collaborative beer with Luke Nicholas from Epic Brewing Company.

On the opposite of the ledger is the coverage given to attacks on Moa's Breakfast beer, I set out four reasons why I think these attacks are misguided in "A storm in a pint glass breakfast beer":

The launch of Moa Breakfast, a wheat-based lager, is "marketing alcohol to alcoholics", an addiction expert says.  National Addiction Centre director Doug Sellman said that "promoting alcohol at breakfast time is promoting morning drinking.  And morning drinking is a classic sign of alcoholism, so it’s basically marketing alcohol to alcoholics," he said.  

Glass Tip - The Bloodhound Gang for inspiring the Discovery Channel title.




Even April Fools' need beer too

I think April Fools' - done well - can be a lot of fun.  Over at the Beer and Brewer Blog, I've done a post about my 2011 (leaked secret cables reveal hidden alcohol reform agenda) and 2010 (Epic Pixie Strawberry Lager and the Men of Brewing calendar) columns, Tuatara's "sale" revelation and the original Stone Brewery pranks which inspired us all.  It is titled "April 1 Fun":

The men who make New Zealand’s best beer have agreed to let it all hang out for charity.  Organised and produced by the Brewer’s Guild, the “Men of New Zealand Brewing” calendar follows the successful path of the ‘Calendar Girls’ in Britain and a number of Australian sports teams by capturing a series of tasteful nude portraits utilising strategically placed props. Demand is expected to be high and all proceeds go to a good cause.

I surprisingly could not find any April Fools' poems on Beer Haiku Daily but I did find one involving a mime which seemed appropiate.  It has the odd title of "A good beer blog's poetry contest":

Woe is the beer mime
he can’t speak the poetry
in praise of fine beer

Glass Tip - The unfoolish Beer Haiku Daily site


Owner's Can't Get In, But Beer Can Get Out

Over at the Beer and Brewer blog, I've written a series of postsabout the Christchurch earthquake, the brewing industry there and the country's response to tragedy.  My latest blog is more pointed.  I went to write it initially on Friday but that did not seem the appropriate day.  Yesterday, desperate business owners stormed the cordon and were chased by police.  It seems incredible to me that "Owner's Can't Get In, But Beer Can Get Out":

I am a big fan of beer but it has to be kept in perspective.  I cannot condone trucks getting special treatment to haul beer through the cordon when other business owners have waited four weeks and haven't even been allowed in to see their properties, some of which have been demolished without notification.


Beer Haiku Friday - Beer Goggles"

Today's Haiku is a simple little ditty entitled "beer goggles":

spiffing devices
these beer goggles surely are
they make me look good

Glass Tip - A very early edition of Beer Haiku Daily

Speaking of beer goggles, it was Saint Patrick's Day yesterday.  I noted on Facebook that I was not a fan of the day and feedback was split with about 70% agreeing, 29% disagreeing and one commentator implausibly arguing I was a prohibitionist... 

On the way to dinner last night, I saw a sight which summed up what I dislike about Saint Paddy's Day.  People were huddled under a tent, leaning on a row of rubbish bins, right next to the portaloos, drinking Guinness out of plastic cups, packed in shoulder to shoulder.  Not my idea of a good (or hygienic) time...


Beer in the News - Britain, Belgium, Vietnam

This post highlights three international beer articles today, each for different reasons. 

First up is "Real ale buff who spent five years checking out ALL 700 pubs in the Good Beer Guide (ending with a pint at his local)" * from the on-line Daily Mail.  It tracks the odyssey of a retired railway worker who visited all 700 pubs listed in the 1990 Good Beer Guide and had a pint of ale at each.  He sounds like a real character and it is a good little read:

Reflecting on his achievement, he said: 'I've had some wonderful times and some scary times. I once travelled to a pub in South Bermondsey and the place was shut at 5pm so I banged on the door for a bit only to be greeted by a very angry man and his shotgun. I left that one pretty quickly.  I did go back later, very discreetly, because I had to have a pint from there so I could cross it off my list.'

The next story is from Intrepid Express and is called "Belgian beer, waffles and more". Like the headline, the article is competent without being particularly ground-breaking but it does contain one of the great opening lines:

Aside from Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dr Evil, the most famous things to come out of Belgium are definitely food and drink related.  Everyone immediately thinks of beer, waffles and chocolate...

Finally, also from Intrepid Express, a neat wee article about beer drinking in Vietnam by a confessed non-beer drinker - "xin chao, bia hoi, hello!"  Often, these types of article can annoy me - if you don't know about a topic, why on earth would you write about it?  However, this article skillfully uses imagery and has an unusually bitter-sweet ending:

So as I sip, I enjoy cracking open roasted peanuts from the plate. Putting aside old Australian habits, I guiltlessly drop the shells on the floor or pavement at my feet, as the locals do. After all, when in Vietnam..... Anyway, later the pavements and streets will all be meticulously swept up.

* I'm presuming the sub-editor who usually wrote the headlines was at lunch for this one to slip through

Glass Tip - Red Ana for the UK article

Glass Tips - Belinda our Sydney correspondent for the Intrepid articles


Neil Miller