An exhibit opens this week in London, England which provides evidence as to the drinking habits of the locals from around 1300 AD:
Experts have uncovered evidence that 12th century Londoners drank ale by the gallon, starting at breakfast time, due to poor quality drinking water. Exhibits at the Museum of London, including a selection of old Toby jugs, depict tubby men with beer bellies. London's many drinking dens entertained 'immoderate quaffing by fools', according to a writer of the time.Here is the website for the museum's new exhibit. That would be an interesting place for a correspondent to visit. Any takers?
Ah, Utah. If they are not going to learn it in schools you can expect folk are going to have to pick it up in the taverns of the nation:
Wasatch Beers is changing the label on its 2002 Unofficial Amber Ale — a title that once raised a ruckus with Olympic officials — to "Evolution Amber Ale." The company says the change is inspired by Utah legislators and the debate here and nationally over whether public school evolution lessons should be balanced with "intelligent design," or the idea that life is too complex to be explained by Darwin's theory of evolution alone. Wasatch Beers founder Greg Schirf, called a "counterculture brewer master" in a company press release, said the new label was intended to be light-hearted. But Sen. Chris Buttars, R-West Jordan, isn't laughing. "I guess some people are going to get a chuckle out of it. I don't see anything funny about it," Buttars said. "Anytime someone (tries to) sarcastically exploit issues of morality in those kinds of ways is very unappealing. But it doesn't bother me, whatever they put on there."
Young's are a local brewer in London that has done very well in the export market. Not that long ago that were somewhat hard to find even in England. David Line in his early and important homebrewing guide from 1978 called Brewing Beers Like Those You Buy - a novel idea 27 years ago - says this about the Special Bitter:
A strong hoppy bitter with a distinctive taste. Maybe it is the yeast that adds to the flavour because Youngs Special is hard to come by locally and it always seemed to be served slightly cloudy. Eventually I supped some which was crystal clear and it was even better.Youngs has existed since 1831 but beer has been brewed on the site of its Ram brewery 1533. Even as recently as the late 1990s, the brewery's history speaks of adding a bottling line to satisfy supermarket demand. This is still no macro-brewer despite its age and reach.
- Special London Ale: This beer pours a quickly dissipating tan head over slightly russeted orange ale. There is a strong mineral rich aroma as soon as you open the top. Very distinct with orange apricot marmalade fruit, a tiny touch of black malt toastiness, a distinct yeast strain that is more dry cracker than biscuit and very twiggy hops with a sweet floral background. Very complex and pleasing. You know, I think that Mendocino's Eye of the Hawk Select Ale is something of a respectful imitation. All BAers but few respect.
- Oatmeal Stout: this is a fantastically good stout with a rare roast malt nuttiness. It pours a mocha cream head over black garnet stout. The yeast is rich chalky cream over which sits a halo of mint hop, Northern Brewer I would think. The black malt toastiness is subdued, balanced with a figgy note. Rich but not sweet. Perfectly balanced...and perfect. Almost sherry, a glass took me an hour and a half to sip. The 1% of BAers who say nay speak of a nitro-can version. This was not.
As Britain's parliamentarians debate the prospect and the wisdom of the new 24 hour drinking freedom, the BBC has posted an excellent page on the state of Britian's relationship with the drink:
Some have warned this moment, tagged an "alcoholic Big Bang", will signal chaos and disorder on the streets. Yet others are saying the impact will be far less dramatic, even negligible. Only time will reveal how our drinking habits may change, but what can we say about them now?
My pal Craig, one of the longest standing internet hands I know, is off in Australia visiting family. He sent through this image below that makes me think all is going well this spring in Oz. I wrote about this beer, Coopers Sparking Ale, a year ago when it was available in Ontario but never in such a hearty sized container as illustrated. He has also recently reviewed Coopers Pale Ale and Cascade Premium Lager. Sensible thing on a trip, reseaching the local culture.
Now...is that glass size a middy or a schooner?
Last June I reviewed an XP Pale Ale from Bear Republic of Healdsburg, California and was mightily impressed. The trade paper...or brewspaper...Celebrator Beer News reported on a visit to Bear Republic in its June 2005 issue and mentioned the brewmasters other interests:
Norgrove is not only the brewer of award-winning ales such as Racer 5 IPA, Red Rocket Ale and Hop Rod Rye at Bear Republic Brewery in the Sonoma County town of Healdsburg, Calif. He’s also marched in the U.S. Army, put out fires as a volunteer firefighter and revved at the redline as a professional racing instructor and stock car driver.Though the operation looks fairly small with the brewery advertised along with their brew pub and restaurant, they seem fairly aggressive in their marketing across the US, even getting into the Alaskan market. Their ales are available at the Galeville Grocery and, I think, Party Source as well, both in Syracuse. Last time I was down I picked up these two 22 oz bottles for 4.39 USD each.
- Red Rocket Ale: This beer pours a long lasting beige rocky head over deep red amber ale giving off a rich smell of raisiny malt and spice. The first sip is extremely pleasant, rich and large bodied with the biscuit and fruit of a fig newton, some dried apple and even cinnamon, though this is likely the spice of the hops with a smidge of chocolate malt. There could also be some black malt back there as the label claims this is a bastardized Scottish style red ale. Despite all that, there is much juiciness. There is also a core of heat, which is to be expected at 6.8% with a wrapper of green hop spice. The effect could be taken for mint or menthol under all that round rich goodness. Every vote of the BAers is in favour. The brewery's website explains that they use both Belgian and British crystal malts in this ale and mentions the stack of awards it has won. Quality and big, sweet and hot enough to stand up to a mess of BBQ.
Tribute Brown Ale: Wow. Not as complex as the Red Rocket but really worthy. A lighter bodied chocolate beer. This fairly high carbonation red mahogany ale sits under a constantly renewing foam of tight tiny brown bubbles. For 6.3% this is inordinately light for all this nutty dark dry chocolate flavour. Some date fruit as well and a nicely placed structural hop bitter keeping well back of the malt. Chalky yeast as befits a proper brown ale. The BAers say yea!
Every once in a while I have a lager and then I remember that I don't like lagers much. You may have noticed this in the reviews set out here. But I have been meaning to try Steam Whistle for sometime to make sure I am not missing something good and local.
Good thing as this is my kind of lager. It pours a medium straw and fades to a white rim. While the body is quite watery - without being thin - there are lots of grainy malt as in a quality pale ale but it is a notch sweeter and rounder. That roundness is accentuated by a creamy lager malt strain with a concession to the style in the metallic hops that cut the cloy. But the hop additions come from a measured hand and there is a freshness to them that compliments the sweet malt rather than fights it. This is the one beer the brewery brews and it is quite worthy.
It would be interesting to see what these folks could do with a pale ale. Oddly - the BAers are brutal with over one third saying no way.