Thursday, 29 August 2013

A good pub?

The 2014 Good Pub Guide – a commercial publication not to be confused with CAMRA's Good Beer Guide – has stirred up a bit of (surely intentional) controversy by suggesting that up to four thousand pubs will close in the next year.

The GPG claims that pubs will only survive if they improve the quality of the food they serve. I must be missing something here as the main reason I go to pubs is to drink beer. I might have a pork pie or a packet of crisps or nuts with a pint but I wouldn't go to a pub specially for the food. I think that they're confusing pubs with restaurants here. Most of the pubs I drink in don't do food anyway. Let's see if they stagger on for another year despite the GPG's message of doom.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Let there be PR

The TV presenter Tim Lovejoy is fronting a new website called Let There Be Beer.

On Sunday Brunch, the magazine programme he co-presents with chef Simon Rimmer, Lovejoy has promoted interesting beers from Britain and the rest of Europe so you might expect the website to do likewise. You'd be wrong.

Its main theme is matching beer and food. I'm not really into all that but some of its suggestions are just bizarre. San Miguel or Kronenbourg is the perfect accompaniment to asparagus apparently. Cooking fish? Budweiser, Fosters or Tuborg are what you want. World beers it recommends include Heineken and Sol.

I detect a heavy corporate hand here, especially in the taste descriptions. Has anyone really drunk Coors Light and thought "Hmm, soft fruit notes (pear drops, banana)"?

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Champion Beer of Britain

Elland 1872 Porter has just been announced as this year's CAMRA Champion Beer of Britain at the Great British Beer Festival in London.

I wrote about 1872 Porter when it won the Winter Beer of Britain award at the National Winter Ales Festival in Manchester in January so I won't reiterate what I said then except to say that it's a worthy winner of the top prize.

One of the things you notice if you look at the Champion Beers of Britain over the last twenty years is how regional breweries, let alone national or global brewers, have been edged out by microbreweries. 1872 is the only beer on the list that I've drunk, apart from White Shield in the Bottled Beer category. Many people will say that it's because microbreweries are now producing better beers than Fuller's, Robinson's or Timothy Taylor  I wouldn't  but there's also been a shift in CAMRA towards supporting locally-brewed beers, for example through the  LocAle scheme, rather than nationally-distributed ones.

I also note that, apart from Marble, the North West is unrepresented on the list. At least Holt's are still brewing the world's best lagers in Manchester.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Beer and sausages

BBC2 is showing a season of programmes about Germany at the moment.

Last night, the TV chef Rick Stein travelled around Northern and Western Germany with his son and popped in to see their relatives in Düsseldorf, Hochheim and Frankfurt (I know I play with words but the programme title Rick Stein's German Bite is a pun too far even for me).

Stein announced at the start of the programme that his mission is to get us thinking about German cuisine beyond beer and sausages. The only problem with that is that beer and sausages are the best thing about a trip to Germany, whether Alt and Rotwurst in Düsseldorf, Kölsch and Blutwurst in Cologne or Helles and Bratwurst in Munich. I must say though that Stein showed remarkably good taste in going to Zum Uerige in Düsseldorf which, along with Im Füchschen, is my favourite Altstadt pub. He also had Schweinhaxe, a massive pork knuckle encased in crackling that has defeated me both times I've attempted to eat one.