A Good Beer Blog


Have you read The Unbearable Nonsense of Craft Beer - A Rant in Nine Acts by Alan and Max yet? It's out on Kindle as well as Lulu.

Maureen Ogle said this about the book: "... immensely readable, sometimes slightly surreal rumination on beer in general and craft beer in particular. Funny, witty, but most important: Smart. The beer geeks will likely get all cranky about it, but Alan and Max are the masters of cranky..."

Ron Pattinson said: "I'm in a rather odd situation. Because I appear in the book. A fictional version of me. It's a weird feeling."


Comments are locked. No additional comments may be posted.

Paul Garrard -

All things in moderation has always been my motto, although I have been known to break my own rules. Learning to consume in moderation should always be the message about any foodstuff. I’m pretty sure that Ena, and/or her sidekicks Martha and Mini were fond of Milk Stout, a beer high in Lactose and not something to drink by the quart.

Stephen Beaumont -

Moderation in all things, including moderation, I always say.

You're right, of course, Alan, but in talking about typical consumption of alcohol, in addition to the pint v. half pint issue, you need consider the ways in which other alcohols are consumed. The "ideal" four or five ounce measure of wine, for instance, is something seldom seem, and with alcohol contents of some wines regularly reaching 14% these days, the calorie content of vino is definitely on the rise in real terms. Ditto those who drink spirits and usually do so with some sugary mixer or, worse still, in a calorie-laden premixed alcopop. In both situations, it's easy for wine and spirits to top beer in terms of real life calorie content, even when considering the pint (which, BTW, tends to last longer than the mixed drink, at least, if not the wine).

I think you're also being a bit picky with CAMRA, in that a 3.8% cask ale -- which, after all, is what they exist to promote -- is hardly an uncommon site in British pubs.

So while I do agree that CAMRA is being disingenuous for publicity's sake, they are closer to the mark, I think, than you're allowing. And besides, it IS p.r., not fact. ;o)

Alan -

Picky? Me? Of course, you are right. My recollection is that Enid likely drank Guinness but that would be an interesting bit of digging to see if the class of stout she preferred could be confirmed.

But the point remains that this is an example of pure silliness and a distraction. Agreeing with your point on wine and cocktails and while England has a fairly recent tradition of lower alcohol beers (ie since the 1900s), the move these days is to higher and higher alcohol, larger servings, longer sessions and any other way to "supersize" the experience is the main theme these days. It is made even more useless when the story is picked up by US beer bloggers and trade writers to somehow confirm all is well, beer is not a worry to health over here either.

Which begs the question: do organizations like CAMRA and the Brewers Association exist to spin pleasant untruths to the drinking public? Are they with us or against us?

Joe Stange -

I'm one of those who think too much is made of beer and its caloric content. The real culprits, as usual, are unhealthy eating and lack of exercise.

A typical pint of real craft beer has, what, 250 calories? That's peanuts compared to, well, peanuts for example. That would equal about 1/4 cup of peanuts. But how much of those do we actually eat if they're sitting in front of us while we drink? And what do we order off the bar menu? Most any meal out, short of the side salad, is going to dwarf an evening's drinking in caloric content.

However it's pretty silly to say that drinking, even in moderation, can help someone lose weight and cut alcohol intake. That's only true is someone's a drunk to start with. And even moderate drinking tends to make that cheeseburger and fries look quite a bit more attractive, and that morning walk a little bit less likely to happen.

Alan -

Maybe CAMRA is looking out for the class of member who are drunks... hmmm, that's an interesting maybe.

I think my point is really, Joe, that many sessions are not over at the first pint and many beer fans have many more sessions than I might given my aged years and my rafts of knee high dependents. So while there are 250 ml pints, the trend in the US is towards 600 to 800 calorie 22 oz bombs. Both get called "a beer" but one just in itself represents around 20-30% of the daily dietary intake of food energy.

So, for CAMRA to say beer is slimming is, as I pointed out, more than a bit blind to the shape of its own membership.

Stephen Beaumont -

So, Alan, why are you judging the statements of CAMRA on the basis of trends in the US? Bombers of any size or alcohol content are rare birds indeed in the UK.

Alan -

I am and I am not.

1. the CAMRA PR is stunned for itself as no one drinks half a pint of 3.8% as a practice unless they are not an active beer drinker. So it is aimed at who? Aimed at discombobulating the marketplace with gobbleteegook. Word.

2. Even though Britain is an island, it isn't an island. CAMRA influences the discussion beyond its shores and other writers have picked up the PR blurb as as part of the "beer is healthy" discourse. Beer has benefits and detriments and health is international.

3. US-style bigger beers are moving into the UK. Trend. Saying "a glass of beer is low calorie" rather than a few small classes of dying beer styles are around as good as other beverages is not aware of stronger lagers or bigger craft beers. CAMRA should admit that.

Matt -

Good post Alan - There is also a tendency to say beer is great for you because it has so many vitamins and minerals in it...which is great except you can't drink enough of the stuff to get their benefit wthout harming your health. But it is the nature of PR to use these studies and pllenty want to bellieve them. I took a slightly different tack to the issue in "Study finds beer, red wine cure everything…except cirrhosis" http://www.brewsnews.com.au/2010/02/study-finds-beer-red-wine-cure-everythingexcept-cirrhosis/