Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

***In praise of Amber Nectar - I

by Helen Mon Aug 14th, 2006 at 03:51:21 AM EST

"I like beer, and I like cheese.."  - (On horseback) Mike Oldfield.

Well, having done cheese, it's time for beer. Pull up a bar-stool and let Auntie Helen tell you all about it.

Editorial Update: 8-11-06 16:36 CEST All this talk of wars makes me thirsty...its Friday evening, how about a beer?

From the front page ~ whataboutbob


Beer has been part of the human diet since Mesopotamian times, that's the dawn of civilisation to you. Indeed, beer and bread both probably started out as slightly different ways of making porridge interesting. But once it was discovered that, by leaving very wet porridge out for a few days we ended up with something that could make us feel happy on a friday night out in Babylon, there was no looking back.

After all, in terms of hygiene, beer was healthier than water. It had to be boiled, killing all nasties like germs and parasites. The subsequent production of alcohol by the yeast produced an environment hostile to bacteria. Also, hops, which were introduced into the process from the 12th century onwards, are naturally antiseptic. So drinking beer was simply a great way of avoiding illness. In fact cholera, which is contracted from contaminated water supplies, only began to be an issue in the UK after the Temperance movement took hold in the late Victorian period.  

There are two main types of beer. That which is brewed with a yeast which works whilst floating on top of the wort (unbrewed liquid); this is ale and is typical of the UK and Belgium. Then there is that which is brewed with a yeast that sinks to the bottom and acts there. This is a yeast which works more slowly and produces the beers typical of Germany or Czech republic.

To make a beer you need to take just-germinated barley and roast it. The germination creates sugars that are then cooked to create more complex flavours. Nowadays the roasting process is carefully controlled, there are malts that are called Pale, Crystal, Amber, toffee, chocolate and coffee malts. However, 200 years ago the roasting process was far more haphazard and black beers were the norm. So all of the oldest beers styles are black.

The first beers were brewed in open baths where wild yeasts would blow in from the fields. this created a vinegar like beer that had to be aged before it could be drunk. Hence beers called "Old", a slightly sharp hoppy beer, and a style no longer brewed in the UK called "Stale" (for those who know it this is the equivalent of a belgian "Lambic").

Later, once the brewing process was better understood, beers were made that used controlled yeasts which had a low hop rate to disnguish them from Old. Many drinkers found that they preferred a mix of the 3 styles : Old, Mild and Stale and was known as "Entire" or "Porter". This became the most popular beer style and brewers were soon able to replicate the characteristics of this beers in a single brew. The companies that were founded on the popularity of Porter beers are still with us today. Whitbread, Trumans & Courage were just three. Whitbread had brewing vats so large that when one collapsed near Tottenham Court Road in London, 17 people were drowned in the flood.

Then, in the early 1800s, two inventions changed brewing. The invention of a commencial glass process led to the development of the clear glass jugs that replaced the pewter and clay pots. This, coupled with better contol of the brewing process allowed new malts that created lighter beers that could be seen through. In europe this led to the creation of Pilsner beers, whilst in the UK this led to bitters and golden beers. A major advantage of these lighter styles were that they were ready to drink far sooner than the previously stored beer styles. Hence improving cash-flow.

A brief description of common UK beer styles

Mild
It's mistakenly believed that mild is so-called because it is low in alcohol. This is not so, it is mild because it is low in hops and so lacking in the peppery tang in the back of the throat associated with hops. It is usually, but not always brewed with darker malts to reflect its heritage.

Bitter
Popular with brewers due to its quick throughput, it is the principal beer style in the UK. It should be clear and well-hopped, as per its name.

Heavy
A strong beer brewed in Scotland that is similar in ingredients to bitter except that it favours crystal malts and is, by traditon, barely hopped, if at all.

Old
As previously described, this is a historical style that needs to be stored for a considerable period and develops an acidic tang.

IPA
Called India Pale Ale, this was a beer that was brewed with a ferocious hop rate which acted as a preservative as the beer was trasnported to India for the benefit of the British troops and colonial advisers. Over the duration of the journey the beer developed a more mellow flavour. When these people returned to the UK they were nostalgic for the beers they knew and brewers went out of their way to satisfy the demand. It should be noted that no British brewer makes a "proper" IPA nowadays (see US) and is invariably known as a pale ale.

Golden Ale
A new style, really only popular in the last 20 years, it is known for using Pale malts and heavy hop rates to create a refreshing, yellowish beer.

Stout
Although popularly associated with the products of St James Gate in Dublin, stouts had long been brewed throughout the UK until WWI restrictions caused it to cease production in Britain, leaving Guinness with an open market. However, craft brewers have recently revived the tradition here.
 Stout was so called because it was strong, typically 8% proof and heavily hopped.

Barley Wine
A "hangover" from the Napoleonic wars when it was considered unpatriotic to drink wine. So beers were brewed that mimicked some of the qualities of claret. Very strong and with complex sweet, fruity flavours.

Coming soon : Europe and the New World

Display:
Whitbread had brewing vats so large that when one collapsed near Tottenham Court Road in London, 17 people were drowned in the flood.

I know many people who would be envious of those deaths...

What kind of ale is Boddingtons?  I love Boddingtons.  But it's too hot for it at the moment.

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Tue Aug 8th, 2006 at 07:38:39 PM EST
Boddingtons is allegedly a bitter. Expalnation for the allegedly below;-

Back in the 70s when I lived in Manchester, Boddingtons was a bitter beer with a noticeable astringency. It was the defining characteristic. It was also by far the best beer in Manchester, a town which, at that time, was well-endowed with great beers.

However, something went wrong in the brewing process. The rumour was that the yeast strain became infected. The upshot was that the beer deteriorated rapidly, becoming frequently unpleasant and even undrinkable despite the best efforts of the cellarman. Company profits crashed and the brewery was sold to Whitbread.

W. threw their best brewing experts at the problem and the beer emerged reborn anew. It wasn't quite the beer of old, but it was much much better than it had been during the dark days.

However, Whitbread are a national company and decided to make Boddies a national brand. Sadly, to do that you must increase market share, primarily by advertising, but also by blanding the beer down. A beer that is appreciated for its distinctive qualities by 80% of customers is, to the bean-counters, losing 20% market share.

So characteristics appreciated by the majority must be removed to avoid alienating the rest. Bitterness is reduced, enhancing sweetness, astringency is substituted with a more velvety welcome. A great brand becomes a national bland.

I wouldn't give you the time of day for a Boddies nowadays. But I'll never forget how it used to be.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Aug 9th, 2006 at 05:11:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I wouldn't give you the time of day for a Boddies nowadays.

Nothing to do with the fact that you do not live in a country where most beer is comparable to Budweiser, I'm sure.

It's rare to find any British beer in America that is not Bass or Boddingtons.  And there is simply nothing comparable to Boddingtons here.  It has the monopoly on beers of its kind.  So if I like Boddingtons, it's not a matter of prefering that brand to another, because I have nothing to compare it to.  But I like the style of that beer, whatever it is.

Not everyone lives in Great Britain, ya know.  In fact, just for your comment, I think you should be forced to drink American beer for a year and then come back here and be so beer-snobby... ;)

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Wed Aug 9th, 2006 at 08:30:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hee, when I went to the Great British Beer Festival last week it was with the specific intention of drinking US beers.

Obviously, not Bud or rubbish like that, but the products of the excellent craft breweries that are dotted all over the USA these days. Being sentenced to drink those beers for a year is my kind of punishment.

I was in LA for 3 weeks last year and I simply couldn't find the time to sample even the range from the local WholeFoods. Let alone get wiggy with travelling around looking for the stuff.

However I accept that WholeFoods is bloomin' expensive, but I couldn't turn down the opportunity.

fyi My second favourite brewery in the world is Mendocino of California who have never made a less than excellent beer. Also I'm led to believe that Sierra Nevada and Anchor beers are widely available throughout the USA, but I could be wrong.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Aug 9th, 2006 at 09:46:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Most of the famous beers on our side of the Atlantic were invented by Germans, anyway, if I'm not mistaken.  I'm not big on lager, which seems to be the dominant style in America.  The only exceptions to my rule are Sam Adams and Yuengling -- the latter, mainly because it's as cheap as Budweiser but actually has flavor.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Wed Aug 9th, 2006 at 11:27:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, there are lots of nice microbrews here, but I haven't seen any in the style of Boddingtons, you know, the creamy, comforting, widget-in-can syle. :)  (My vocabulary reveals my breadth of knowledge on the subject.)

BTW, we've acquired proper pint glasses and have noticed that these cans (of "Boddies" and Guiness as well) are not proper pints.  Are they ripping you off in the UK too, or do they just figure an American wouldn't recognize a pint if it hit them up the side of the head?

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Wed Aug 9th, 2006 at 11:45:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Beamish and Murphy's are sold in proper pints by the can.  They are, however, difficult to find.  Murphy's has no flavor, though, compared with Guinness and Beamish.  The bars also serve proper pints, as long as you stick to Irish- and English-themed ones.  (There's a pub in Savannah, Ga., called Churchill's that I highly recommend, if you're ever in the area.  All of the major brands on tap.  Great town, too.  Same story in Charleston and Atlanta.)  We are getting ripped off, though.  Beer at the pub, at least in Notts and London, was cheaper than the beer at bars in Tallahassee and West Palm Beach.  Five bucks for a pint of Guinness is just absurd when you can buy a four-pack of Beamish or Guinness for six or seven bucks at the supermarket.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Wed Aug 9th, 2006 at 11:58:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
British pint = 0.568 litre

US pint = 0.473 litre

Could this explain anything?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Aug 9th, 2006 at 12:02:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Wow, I thought a pint was a universal measurement.

But it doen't explain anything, as my pint glasses are from the US (well, I really don't know where they were made...) and the beers are from Great Britain.  In which case, the glasses would be too small for the beer, not the other way around...  

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Wed Aug 9th, 2006 at 12:09:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In France a "pinte" is exactly one half-liter. "Because of the fucking metric system?"
by Alex in Toulouse on Wed Aug 9th, 2006 at 12:13:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Because the old measure was assimilated to the metric system. 50 cl being close to a pint, people called it a pint. Same thing with the livre (pound weight) and the half-kilo.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Aug 9th, 2006 at 12:31:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe a "proper" pint glass is a British (you know, quaint) pint glass, and the cans are US pints?

US and Imperial gallons are also different.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Aug 9th, 2006 at 12:48:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Most probable explanation.

p.s. At the rate America is going, you know, politics-wise, I expect us to be adopting these "Imperial" measurements shortly. ;)

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Wed Aug 9th, 2006 at 12:54:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah, I wasn't aware you were referring to "Smooth-flow" cans. The aspect of the beer that you like is not the flavour but the texture.

We call that nitro-keg over here and those who care about beer have nothing to do with it. The principle objection being that the excessive "head" created selectively removes hop bitterness from the actual liquid drunk. This leaves the drink even sweeter and blander than it was before.

It was one of the reasons people were so upset when Guinness stopped doing a craft version of their beer. It was noticeably more bitter and had a sharper character than the keg smoothflow version. You can still find real-ale stouts in the UK with that terrific back bite, but Guinness isn't it.

I suppose the refrain running through all this is that many people view beer as social drinking liquid, they don't actually care about the taste so long as it's not actually horrible. It's just something to lubricate conversation.

So brewers are happy to provide for this indifference, knowing full well that it is only afficianadoes like me that actually care what a beer tastes like. and in marketing terms, I'm irrelevant.

I'm pleased that you like Boddingtons, and surprised that no mainstream american brewer has copied the trick. But I'll take the American craft beers anyday.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Aug 9th, 2006 at 12:32:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I like the uniqueness of it, the texture (texture is very important for me; it's why I can't eat oysters or octopus) and it does taste different than the other beers here, not so, oh, what's the word, piss-like.  I find it, aside from Guinness, the most warming and comforting kind of beer.

To give you some perspective, my absolute favorite beers are Belgian.  You are probably going to drag me over the coals for that too I suppose.  

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Wed Aug 9th, 2006 at 12:40:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
To give you some perspective, my absolute favorite beers are Belgian.  You are probably going to drag me over the coals for that too I suppose.

On the contrary, any fan of good belgian beer is alright by me.  


keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Aug 9th, 2006 at 03:51:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Picture of some beers and a collection of beer glasses.

Belgium is a small country, but unmatched in the field regarding beer.

Here a list off (almost) all Belgian beers, basic info and picture of label. It is in Flemisch but that can't be a problem in this case.  
The point is : you have to drink it, not talk about it. In Belgium there is a beer for any taste...

The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)

by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Fri Aug 11th, 2006 at 12:20:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Forgot to mention: besides all the beers on sale, there are thousands of home-brewers....

The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)
by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Fri Aug 11th, 2006 at 12:24:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What is your favorite?  Any recommendations?  There is a Belgian bar here that serves hundreds and hundreds of Belgian ales (all with their own glass) and choosing one can be intimidating.  Though they are all good.

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Fri Aug 11th, 2006 at 01:01:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]

These are very good and popular in Belgium, albeit quality is not more the same as a few years ago: commercialisation and larger volumes for export does harm  the original taste.

My personal favourite now is "Mort Subite" (Sudden Death). There is only a limited quantity since its made by traditional methods. Donno if it is exported to the USA.  

The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)

by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Fri Aug 11th, 2006 at 05:00:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Leffe is very popular, but it's not my favorite.  I currently like the Duchess of Bourgogne and St. Bernardus.  The flavors are so unique.  

And of course I'll drink Chimay red or blue if there is nothing else.

Mort Subite is not on the menu, but I will see if they can get some in.

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Sat Aug 12th, 2006 at 05:04:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Poemless, you may find Mort Subite a bit sweet, but it's certainly a lovely beer. I was told by a (female) friend who brought me a bottle from belgium that it was considered to be "girl's" beer, I guess cos of the sweetness.

Duvel is recommended, a beautiful well-balanced beer. Given what you've said I'd suggest you pour it aggresively to promote a 1/2 to 3/4 inch head.

Belgium does very fine wheat beers. Hoegaarden is the original and amongst the best (Peter Celis, the founder, went to Texas in 1963 and brewed an even better beer, Celis white). Brugges Tarwer Bier is another fine version.

But I'll write a diary breaking down the belgian beers into sty;es with a recommend on each style, try that and go on from there.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Aug 12th, 2006 at 12:18:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Good comments Helen, you rise in my esteem...

The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)
by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Sat Aug 12th, 2006 at 01:04:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, Sierra and Anchor are widely available in the US. I found Mendocino in Boston, so I'll guess that you can find it in most larger booze stores here.

What were you doing in LA, by the way?

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Wed Aug 9th, 2006 at 04:30:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What were you doing in LA, by the way?

Attending a whole load of bellydance events (after Cairo, LA is the world capital)

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Aug 9th, 2006 at 04:53:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Mort Subite?

Yeah, I thought Cairo too.

"When the abyss stares at me, it wets its pants." Brian Hopkins

by EricC on Sun Aug 13th, 2006 at 11:35:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Boddies is great, but I found it to be below par when I had the chance to try other English beers.  Bass isn't bad, but I prefer the nitrogen-based -- I think it's nitrogen -- beers above the carbonated ones.  Newcastle is great but far too expensive to drink regularly here.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Wed Aug 9th, 2006 at 11:33:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Drew. The nottingham beer festival is on 19th october. I can come up and try to educate you away from those nasty nitro-keg beers if you want.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Aug 9th, 2006 at 12:37:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Such self-sacrifice.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Aug 9th, 2006 at 12:37:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
snigger. A gal's gotta do....

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Aug 9th, 2006 at 12:39:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sounds good to me.  It might also make for a good Midlands Meetup opportunity.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Wed Aug 9th, 2006 at 12:44:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I second that.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Aug 9th, 2006 at 12:46:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You know Helen and I are not going to allow you to drink pear cider at a beer festival, right?

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Wed Aug 9th, 2006 at 12:47:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
thirded
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Wed Aug 9th, 2006 at 01:24:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, every good beer festival has a cider bar and the chances are there'll be one or two perrys. But I look forward to having a chance to show what good beers there are in the UK.

And according to the Good Beer Guide there's at least one pub in the City centre that does Boddingtons, so I can use you to demonstrate to poemless that there's all the world of difference in how the beer is presented.

But sounds like we have the beginnings of a plan. Details here;-
http://www.camra.org.uk/page.aspx?o=199104

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Aug 9th, 2006 at 03:56:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Mini factoid: did you know the earliest known strike was among the tomb workers living next the the Valley of the Kings in Egypt? When the stores at the main temple started to run out the priests stopped delivery of their everyday staple needs. They went on strike and demonstrated until the priests restored their supplies of beer, bread, onions and make-up.


So drinking beer was simply a great way of avoiding illness. In fact cholera, which is contracted from contaminated water supplies, only began to be an issue in the UK after the Temperance movement took hold in the late Victorian period.

It was also the reason that the transmission mode of cholera was discovered. There was an outbreak of the disease in 1854 in Soho where a doctor John Snow worked. He noticed that the workers in the breweries did not seem to get cholera while those who did not drink beer fell ill. There were several of these factories in what is now Brewer Street.

Snow is usually credited as being the first epidemiologist to use geographical analysis to prove how a disease is transmitted. He plotted a map showing where the patients died. The cases clustered round a drinking water pump in Broad Street and Snow persuaded the local officials to de-activate it. Some versions of the story have Snow removing the handle himself.

The cholera stopped. Snow was a hero and published his results. To this day the pump remains without its handle and a nearby pub is named after Snow.

by Londonbear on Wed Aug 9th, 2006 at 02:22:52 AM EST
My fingers obviously gave up halfway through. The water pump is in Broadwick Street. Soho in central London.
by Londonbear on Wed Aug 9th, 2006 at 02:57:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Right, but the point about colera transmission was people's dirty hands on the pump handle, not the water flowing out of the pump.

What Snow shwoed was that you had to wash your hands...

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Aug 9th, 2006 at 12:04:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oops, cholera not colera.

Double oops, looking at a book I was summarizing from memory from, I see it was a bit more complicated. The main point was hygiene -- washing hands -- but in the case of the Broad Street pump where Snow made his breakthrough observations, there was also a problem of infiltration into the water supply from a cesspit.

So we're all better off drinking beer anyway.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Aug 9th, 2006 at 12:19:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My 2 cents: alcoholless Tourtel is drinkable when 18° degree Picon Bière is added to it.
by Alex in Toulouse on Wed Aug 9th, 2006 at 11:36:26 AM EST
There used to be an ad running in France, years ago, whose slogan was "Tourtel - you can drink it all night long" and which featured people partying all night long on this alcohol-free beer (well it's not 0°, but nearly is).

But I can confirm right here, right now, that it's just not possible to do that when you add Picon.

by Alex in Toulouse on Wed Aug 9th, 2006 at 11:41:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What are the proportions Tourtel : Picon such that you can't drink it jusqu'au bout de la nuit?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Aug 9th, 2006 at 12:21:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Tourtel - you can drink it all night long"

Did they try to explain why on earth you might want to do so ?

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Aug 9th, 2006 at 12:38:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So you don't end up in trouble the next day like Alex always does.  Good for when you have an international meetup to attend the following morning. ;)

I tease, I tease...

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Wed Aug 9th, 2006 at 12:42:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Judging by the look of the people in the ad, because you'd be completely fucking brainless.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Aug 9th, 2006 at 12:43:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Kos folks are back after the Connecticut operation.

Morale is very high, but they are running out of revanche pasties.

Could you folk lend-lease them about 1.2 million more?

It's a zoo over there. Gotta go back.

Thanks.

"When the abyss stares at me, it wets its pants." Brian Hopkins

by EricC on Wed Aug 9th, 2006 at 01:43:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How about a beer indeed ? Well, despite the less than stellar weather, a friend will be barbecueing a salmon tonight so I'll be round there. I'll probably call in at Morrisons supermarket on the way and see what their beer range is offering.

But I have some Jennings and Thwaites to drink as a fallback.

ps Will go scouting Hyde park tomorrow.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Aug 11th, 2006 at 10:57:54 AM EST
Beer story number 1.

I was in a bar in rural England a few years ago and was surprized to see that you could get the same beer three ways: In a bottle, from a keg, or from a hand-pumped tank.

by asdf on Sat Aug 12th, 2006 at 12:12:54 PM EST
Beer story number 2.

The traditional beer here in Colorado is Coors. It's a light lager style beer, consumed ice cold. Completely different from Bass, etc., of course, but that's what we 'mericans like to drink. Coors Light is even more watery, and is the most popular version.

The Coors factory tour in Golden, just west of Denver, is worth taking if you're in the area. It's right across the street from the Colorado Railroad Museum, if you're planning a trip.

Interestingly enough, during Prohibition, Coors branched out to the ceramic business, and most laboratory ceramics (cruicibles, etc.) used here are made by Coors.

Also, until a few years ago there was a left-over rule from Prohibition that limited the beer sold to 18-21 year olds to 3.2% alcohol. (Actually not such a bad idea, when you come down to it.) So when you went to the liquor store you could get "regular beer" and "three two beer." I know a guy who worked at the Coors plant and he said the only difference was the label on the top of the can...

by asdf on Sat Aug 12th, 2006 at 12:23:35 PM EST
There is a "lager" that used to be brewed in the UK called Harp. In the UK anything with an original gravity of 1030 (water being 1000 - it is a rough measure of alcoholic strength)is not beer and may be legally sold to minors (but is also exempt from beer duty).

Apparently Harp was brewed to 1030.25 so that it was only just legally a beer. Dunno why they bothered, it's not as if it tasted like one.

ps "lager" in the UK/US term is not a lager at all. German lagerbier is a fab drink with a full and rich flavour. Our "lager" is actually a pilsner-beer, except it's really cheap and nasty. Drink Czech budweiser or pilsner urquell and you'd never return to the anglo-saxon bastardisations.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Aug 12th, 2006 at 12:52:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know if it's the same lager, but Guinness owns a brand called Harp.  It's sold here, but I think it's brewed in either Canada or Ireland.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sat Aug 12th, 2006 at 02:58:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They still make that crap? It was marketed as a girlie beer here back in the 80s.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Sat Aug 12th, 2006 at 03:01:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Assuming it's the same beer, yes.  And you're right: It's terrible.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sat Aug 12th, 2006 at 03:16:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah, Coors -- the only beer I've found with even less taste than Budweiser.  I avoid anything made by Coors for fear of Pete Coors running for office again.  The Pete Coors who lectures commercial viewers about drinking responsibly, and, then, promptly gets himself arrested for DUI.  I'm amazed at Republicans' ability to keep straight faces sometimes.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sat Aug 12th, 2006 at 02:56:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Now we need a "decent pub grub" diary from Helen ...
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Sat Aug 12th, 2006 at 03:03:20 PM EST
Agreed.  A few quick rules I picked up on, though: Steak pies and sausage, inevitably served with mash, gravy and peas, are the way to go.  Avoid all English attempts to mimic the food served at American bars, especially chicken fajitas.  Also, avoid anything with the name Harry Ramsden attached to it.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sat Aug 12th, 2006 at 03:28:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Agreed. English attempts to duplicate American-style food are as pathetic as American attempts to duplicate British pub food. And neither does very well on French or Italian...

Here's a picture taken in the Colorado Springs version of an Irish pub. These guys do look sort of Irish, I guess.

by asdf on Sat Aug 12th, 2006 at 04:27:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I partly agree.  In my limited experience, American bars serve decent fish and chips, as opposed to the horrible fish and chips at Harry Ramsden's -- supposedly "famous" -- in Notts.  But they can't match the English on sausage.  The only major problem I have with English beef is that it's overcooked, to the point of, in some cases, reminding me of a hockey puck.  I'm used to red meat being rare, so I experienced a bit of a shock when the bartenders asked if I wanted my burgers or steak "well-done or very-well-done."  It was a lot cheaper, though, so credit where credit is due.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sun Aug 13th, 2006 at 03:36:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Adding to my above comment, I agree that American attempts at English food are generally poor, but they're, by no stretch, as poor as English attempts at American food.  The problem for the English "American sports bars" was that their cooks didn't understand the concept of seasoning, so the food was bland.

But, again, setting aside English and American attempts to imitate each other, I found the food at traditional pubs to be quite good.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sun Aug 13th, 2006 at 03:42:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Fish and chips!

Moules Mariniere & pommes frites!

mmmm....


Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Sat Aug 12th, 2006 at 05:00:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There's no such thing as generically decent pub grub. There are pubs that do good food (few) and those that don't (many).

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Aug 14th, 2006 at 06:18:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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