Gothenburg, Sweden. 19 Feb. 2017. Woke up to the media aftermath of the latest Trump outburst: the astonishing claim that implied there had been a terror attack in Sweden the night before. It is not for this blog to go into detail about that utter nonsense, but I can admit to indulging in at least one Alternative Fact in Sweden, on the Saturday, while visiting Swedish craft brewery Beerbliotek’s tap room.
Artwork decorating one of Gothenburg’s finest breweries
The American woman next to me in the tap room was desperate to avoid talk of That Man. “I’m sick of being asked about it”, she protested to her Swedish friends. Understandably. It was as if to assure us “I didn’t vote for him!”. I suspect there is no let-up for her, following Sunday morning’s “revelation”.
This was not how I was going to begin this blog post. As I wrote my notes in the understated “tap room” adjacent to the brewery itself, I was thinking Lincoln City’s shock win in the FA Cup would have the required ring of unbelievability . The beer I was drinking on THAT Saturday was called Alternative Fact. Continue reading
“Generals gathered in their masses”. Goes the opening line of the Black Sabbath metal classic War Pigs. “Just like witches at black masses”, Continues Ozzy, with not a thought towards ever winning a Nobel Prize for literature. Chemistry, on the other hand…*
And not as generals, but like IT professionals at an afterwork on a Friday, we gathered at Warpigs brewpub, Copenhagen for an evening of “Authentic Texas BBQ” and American-style craft beer. We hadn’t been since it opened in the summer of 2015, so a planned extra day in Copenhagen meant the opportunity to pay a second visit. Would we still like it?
Mikkeller’s showcase brewpub Warpigs
Did you know beer makes cows less farty? It’s true! Rod Jones of Meantime Brewing told me. OK, it’s nearly true. Actually, it’s feeding cattle on spent malt grains that reduces the cow’s methane emission by 40%. Helps make the world just that little bit less greenhouse-y.
Part of The Knowledge Master Class course
I learned this amazing flatulence fact at the launch of Meantime Brewing’s new beer appreciation courses called The Knowledge. Rod Jones, Meantime’s beer taster supreme, is our host and is here to tell us all about The Knowledge.
At the risk – or perhaps hope – of achieving notoriety in Private Eye’s Neophiliacs column, I declare that saison is the new black IPA. I am not saying that to knock it or anyone who brews saison. I love the stuff. Which was why I was delighted to be invited to London Fields Brewery for the launch of the latest in their Bootlegger Series: Eastside Saison.
Eastside Saison. It’s from Lond Fields’ east side.
Over the past year or so, “saison” beers have exploded their presence like overprimed bottles of homebrew. Craft brewers have been cranking up their imaginations to produce a new variants of a beer style with its origins in the Belgian farmhouse of bygone eras. And why shouldn’t modern brewers be creative? When it comes to style, saison is the bebop of beer: based on a few sketchy ideas, the whole comes together with some firecracking improvisation.
Which is a roundabout way of saying there is nothing fixed about a saison: it is a moveable feast*. Nobody can be certain what those ancient farmhouse beers tasted like. Brewed in winter for slaking the thirsts of summer farm labourers, each farm brewing their own one-off batch. As craft as you like, it’s no wonder so many brewers want to try their hand. I was very keen to taste the London Fields interpretation. Continue reading
Now the media storm around Red Bull-gate* appears to have died down, Norwich’s Redwell Brewing can carry on with what they do best, as their name so clearly implies: that’s brewing beer. I expect people will be asking, is there substance to build on the brouhaha?
The publicity from clashing with Red Bull has led to a boost in orders for Redwell. Now they have to back it up, and they will because the beer is very good. You might think “surprisingly good for such a young brewery”. But then they have a secret weapon from Sweden. Johan Elmander is not the only Swedish signing Norwich has made recently.**
- The Norwich city-centre sign that inspired the name of Redwell Brewing
Redwell’s Swedish import is head brewer David Jones. You might think “David Jones” doesn’t sound terribly Swedish, and you’d be right. David is a Londoner. You’d also be forgiven for not having heard of David Jones – the brewer, but he’s much better known in Sweden, and arguably, one of the most influential brewers in Scandinavia.
So how come Redwell recruited David Jones from Sweden, and why the Dorothy Parker quote in the headline?