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Selected Readings: November

For a change, I'm on time this month. It feels good! But enough bollocks, let's go through last month's best beer bits.

Velký Al is not too happy with what he read about Pale Lagers in an article published by American newspaper. The author, one Steve Body, a.k.a. "The Pour Fool", is one of those people who speaks with authority about a topic he doesn't understand, nor is he interested in learning much about, which isn't so much foolish as it is stupid. On the other hand, it's good to know that publishing bollocks about beer isn't exclusive to the Spanish speaking press.

Of all the people involved in the beer industry, from the suppliers of raw materials to the final consumer, nobody has the chance to feel the market better than the owners of specialised bars and shops. That is why when someone like 2D2dspuma offer their (extensive) point of view about what the new brewers should consider when putting together their product portfolio, it's a good idea to pay attention. I believe that even in Spain there is a market for "simple" beers (CCM + Lupulus, Guineu Coaner or Agullons Pura Ale are good examples), but I'm not in the privileged position of 2D2 to judge properly.

Quite related to simple beers is the topic of "Light" beers. Marcelo Braga explains to an oenophile in a very clear way what they are about, closing his piece with a brilliant conclusion.

The opposite of Light beers are the so called "Extreme" brews, among which are the super hoppy ones. Mark seems to have got tired of them a bit, or at least of those that don't offer much more than enamel stripping bitterness. It's all a matter of tastes, but to me, in these days when there are more and more hop/IBU (or even yeast or wood) driven beers, it is really refreshing and rewarding to enjoy the complex subtlety of beers where the malts are allowed to set the pace.

Pete Brown  explains us what Beer Respect means to him and at the same time complains about those who, according to him, take beer "too seriously". A few days later, this last bit prompted a very good response by Boak&Bailey. Pete might be right, but I have to agree with B&B, I believe it is good that there are people who consider beer as something worth of such profound study and debate.

I doubt many of you out there have much sympathy for the American (fake) Budweiser , or forAnhauser-Busch. However, I couldn't help but feel a bit of it after reading this article that tells about what's happened in the three years since the company fell in the claws of InBev.

That's it for this month.

Na Zdraví!

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  1. Thanks, Max. Glad you liked our post.

  2. I didn't knock all pale lagers, Max. If you want to take a jab at me, I don't mind at all, but at least come clean with your readers as to what I actually said. I took a pot shot at our crappy, dollar-driven, mass-produced, American adjunct lagers, NOT the classic German or Austrian lagers or the rising tide of wonderful lagers that we produce in America's craft breweries. I've taken 44 yeasr to learn my subject, Max. How long have you devoted to it? I brew beer and make wine. I know the technical end and the aesthetics, so I can't, for the life of me, figure out how I "don't know" my subject, except that it was an easy swipe to take from whatever little cat-bird seat you claim to speak from. Saying someone with whom you don't agree "doesn't know anything" is the easiest and least vulnerable position to take in an argument. It leaves the reader/hearer with no clear picture of what either party knows. That's why, despite what I may think of somebody else's opinions, I never take swings at ANY critic in "The Pour Fool". I suppose it was too much trouble to point out to your readers that I posted TWO round-ups of pale lagers I love and highly recommend - AND - much easier to just say I don't know anything about them or like them. Here's my take, Max: lighten up. Find things you like and write about that. I've never quite understood if the act of poking another person whose opinions you don't like is an attempt to elevate the poker or just petty jealousy. I feel no need to do it but will certainly poke back, when poked. Ultimately, your comments above are just easy and lazy filler for your blog. People who dispute opinions are like someone standing in a heavy surf and shouting, "I will NOT get wet!" It changes none of the facts and just wastes energy.

  3. Steve, didn't you say this? "Pilsner, a style that originated in Czechoslovakia as a ladies’ beer; a wimpy alternative for the delicate palates of proper Czech ladies who couldn’t stand the big German Alts and Lagers or the muscular Belgian ales."? Sorry, mate, but that alone (even it it was tongue in cheek, pretty much disqualifies the whole thing in my opinion)

    And didn't you also say in another blog something like you review beers without drinking them?

    Anyway, if you bother to read the whole post, yours is the only one I poke, so I invested more time an energy in directing people to stuff I actually like than to stuff that I don't.

  4. No, Pivni, I said I review beers without drinking them because I taste nearly a thousand beers in an average year and NOBODY can drink that many. It's my JOB to taste and evaluate beverages. I cannot drink - as in down an entire glass of - every one of the 3,000 beverages I sample in a year. I'd be dead if I did that. And, yes, the style Pilsner was originally brewed as an alternative to strong Belgian and Austrian ales and was primarily marketed to women. After it was introduced, that distinction became moot as it became the beer of choice for a lot of people. That factoid was given to me personally, in 1973, by Michael Jackson, the Brit beer authority. Again, you choose to swing back because...well, I don't know, frankly. Why do you? Why take the swipe in the first place? I don't feel the need to read other bloggers and dispute them. I have my own work to do and that's enough to occupy me. Your opinion that the whole thing is disqualified, well, if that works for you within the confines of this blog, good on ya, but according to the Seattle P-I's hit counter, The Pour Fool got over 90,000 hits on the Bud piece A DAY for nine days. The response to it was overwhelmingly positive. So, you go ahead and "disqualfy" me, MATE. Seems, really, not to matter a whole lot to anyone but you.

    Thanks for reading The Pour Fool. Best of luck with your blog.

    1. I know why you review beers the way you do and I understand it. It doesn't mean that you are doing it well, though, and it's not just MY opinion. But I'm neither your employer, nor your reader so it's not my problem.

      As for the Pils thing. It's far from my intention to question Jackson's authority, but I happen to live in the Czech Rep. and I've read a couple of documents in original Czech and I've also spoken with and read the works of people who have read even more documents than me in Czech AND German (original historical records for the most part), so I believe I can speak with some authority. Pilsner Lager can't have been brewed as an alternative to Strong Belgian ales because those beers didn't exist in Bohemia (mind you, in 1842 it was not Czechoslovakia yet). I don't know about any "Strong Austrian Ales", they might have existed, but Anton Dreher was sure working hard to drive them into extinction with the lagers he started brewing in the late 1830's after his beer tour in England, where he learnt (among many other things) how to make paler malts with indirect heat.

      Anyway, the thing is that by the beginning of the 1840's lager brewing was the hottest trend in the Austrian Empire and the Burghers of Pilsen wanted to get on it with their new, purpose built brewery. Why the beer was so pale? There are a couple of theories, one of them makes a lot of sense, the other one is mine, it might not make that much sense, but it is quite cool, anyway.

      This new beer can't have been marketed to the ladies because it was a pub thing and pubs were a man's world (remember it's the mid 19th century we are speaking about). Lager would then go on to wipe out almost all the traditional top fermented beers that had been the staple since times immemorial, something that would have been impossible had they been presented as a ladies beer. There are many reasons for that (which have nothing to do with the ladies, though drinkability was indeed a factor), but I assume you know them already.

      What would be interesting to know is what colour was the first lager Anheuser-Busch brewed in St. Louis. In the 1860's wasn't so popular yet. Did the colour change by the time he started brewing with maize? (I don't think I need to tell you the reasons why he did that). But I'm digressing.

      So, could it be that that day in 1973 Jackson was not being serious or that you misunderstood what he said or that you don't quite remember it well or simply that Jackson, at the time he told you that, was wrong?

      Whatever the reason, the truth is that this: "Pilsner, a style that originated in Czechoslovakia as a ladies’ beer; a wimpy alternative for the delicate palates of proper Czech ladies who couldn’t stand the big German Alts and Lagers or the muscular Belgian ales." Is just bollocks.

      And Steve, please, don't throw numbers. If quantity/popularity = quality, then Bud Light is the best American beer. And frankly speaking, and please don't take this as a personal thing, I think your article has as much depth as Bud Light.


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