3 Aug 2011

Selected Readings: July

Yeah, yeah, we are already in August and like most of you, I can't believe it. Time flies when you are having fun, and July has left us with plenty of fun things to read.

The journey begins actually with a glass of wine. From England, Fiona Beckett writes a critic to wine critics, where she brings attention to the poor ethics, if not downright corruption, that seems to be common among many of her colleagues. After reading it I was left wondering if that couldn't happen with beer. With the increasing importance many people are giving to blogs and how much we all like getting free samples or being invited to events, can it be that some of us are more lenient towards some brewers/distributors because we want to keep on drinking for free? What is the right thing to do when a free sample we got to review in our blogs turns out to be crap? Food for thought.

On a lighter note, but still on the wine topic the Argentine food blog Fondo de Olla publishes a funny rant about the bollocks that dominates the wine discourse. I confess to having committed poetic excesses when describing a beer like "It smelled like walking in a field of ripe wheat while holding a bunch of wild flowers", just to mention the most recent one. To my defense, I do it because, on the one hand, it's fun and on the other, this is a blog and not a press release or a plug from a distributor/brewer in a magazine or newspaper, like the ones that speak about food pairing with Cruzcampo or that "Refreshingment" is a beer category or that you can find notes of Danish summer apples in Carlsberg.

And since we are speaking about bollocks and snobbery, The Contrarian complains about how difficult it has become to order a beer at some Craft Beer Bars, and he makes a good point. Beer has always been an inclusive drink, but when you need to have studied the Style Guidelines of the BJCP in order to be able to order a pint, it results in beer adopting some of the vices of wine, another beverage that has always been inclusive, however much the wine marketing people wish ignore that fact.

(But well, maybe you are one of those people who believes that to truly enjoy a beer you need to take three short sips first and not just drink it, or who would like all pubs to have a sommelier and would never set food in one that doesn't have a list of at least 450 Craft Beers from around the world (50 on tap) that must change periodically, lest you get bored of it. In that case, you should perhaps have a look at this rehabilitation program for beer snobs.

Among those vices of wine is, in my opinion, the use of the word "terroir", which some people are trying to apply to beer. Stan Hieronymus makes a very good point, but he still doesn't convince me. I do like the idea of emphasising the origin of a beer, something that, as I've already discussed, is very important to know, but the "terroir" thing has already been abused enough by marketing of wine for us to start using it (and quite wrongly at that) for beer.

And more on marketing. The economy section of La Vanguardia published an interview with Albert Castellón, general director of Moritz. What this man says is not much more than a compilation of the meaning of the "Brand above drink" concept. Let's not pay too much attention to crap like "He likes beer a lot, but "as a principle" if he's at a bar where they don't have Moritz, he drinks coffee or a soft drink and then tries to find out why they don't have Moritz", and let's focus on "brand" (a word he mentions seven times, while "hops" isn't uttered only once). Castellón says that Moritz is "Barcelona's beer" even though it is brewed more than 300Km away in Zaragoza! Go figure.

And more marketing bollocks, this time from England. Martyn Cornell wrote a brilliant satire titled "New White Wine Launched for Men" in response to yet another pathetic launch of yet another pathetic "beer for women" that brings together all the clichés of the supposed relationship the ladies have with beer.

The nonsense of the month this month comes from Colombia, courtesy of one José Rafael Arango, who in an article full of the usual "historical" stuff shares with us a historic revelation "With time, Eastern and Western cultures took on with passion the brewing of many kinds of beer. Such was the variety and profusion of this beverage that in 1516 William IV, Duke of Bavaria, was forced to proclaim the famous beer purity law or Reinheitsgebot, with which brewers were restricted to using only water, barley and hops, a rule that has preserved to this day the purity and quality of the precious liquid. What else can be added to that?

Na Zdraví!

Choose a Hotel in Prague in the city centre.

3 comments:

  1. Do not Drink any Wine now. Cannot tell you last time I had any. Had a nice Pint of Pegasus yesterday, from Milton Brewery, Cambs. A Brewery with a Interesting History. Ordered Your Book, Monday. Cannot wait to Read it. Friend of Mine from Texas visiting Praha, next Year. First Stop, Zly Casy.

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  2. Here's a post I can sink my teeth into. Really it's four great posts in one, so I'll stick to the advertizing thing.

    So the problem is: can we trust our fellow beer bloggers when they say nice things about x or y brewery if they receive freebies'n'favours from them?

    I'll go one step further. Beer bloggers are a promiscuous lot and many of them are interested in self-promotion for various reasons. This leads to a general impoverishment of critical thought as nobody wants to say anything too negative in case it comes back to bite them.

    The only reviewers I trust are the grumpy ones and the ones I am completely convinced are in it for the love of beer and nothing else.

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  3. There are bloggers out there who prefer to speak only about the good stuff. I respect their choice, but I don't agree with it, but in most cases they are people who mostly review beers they have bought.

    A different thing is with the samples. I have received a good number of them from several breweries. There have been a couple that I didn't like, and I said. They weren't bad, mind you, it was just that they weren't my thing. Fortunately, I haven't yet received from a brewery a beer that was crap and to be honest, I'm not quite sure what I will do if that ever happens. I guess I will tell the brewer first and then publish my review.

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