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Brewsround – Week 18, 2020

The old town hall (Das Alte Rathaus) in Bamberg

Beer, beer everywhere and not a drop to drink. There was a steady stream of tasty beer writing this week and an absolute deluge on Friday. I’ve gulped down as many words as I could manage. Here are a few of my favourites.

As I wrote in last week’s Brewsound, I’ve been thinking a lot about returning to Bamberg. This was originally planned as a long weekend. But with international travel likely to be off the cards for quite some time, Steffi and I have been talking about what a longer holiday in Germany might look like. We like the idea of touring Franconia and Bavaria. I’ve pocketed In the Enchanting Lad of Zoigl Beer from Franz on Tempest in a Tankard, for when we get around to more detailed planning. The communal nature of Zoiglstuben may mean it has to wait a while though.

The Zoiglstube is more of a living room than a restaurant, a convivial place where every seat is full by late afternoon. It’s virtually impossible not to engage with other people. A steady stream of locals crowd in to swap stories or catch up on the news of the day, gladly making room for all who pass through the door. After a few Zoiglbier, we’re all locals.

The revival of The Session, a beer blogging assignment to get multiple perspectives on a single topic, meant I had lots of new reading material this week. The subject was Where Are You At? and the responses provided plenty of food for thought. This line from Dave’s contribution on Brew in a Bedsit hit the nail on the head.

But there’s a slight regret even associated with having nice beer to drink, and that’s the awareness that…there’s no-one else drinking it with me.

One theme running through the Where Are You At? posts I read was people falling back on drinking classics and flagship beers. Jeff Alworth has taken this one step further on Beervana and started a series on the making of classic beers. He started with Orval and I’m looking forward to further instalments.

It’s such an important beer for so many reasons—its history and weird provenance, the use of Brettanomyces through long decades when that yeast was being eliminated from breweries, and its elusive, mutable nature. Few breweries make a beer so profound it’s the only beer they make (a lower-alcohol beer served at the monastery is just watered down)—but few breweries make a beer like Orval.

I also hope that Jeff follows up on a comment from Lew on his post for The Session, Drinking Alone.

How about a blog on what makes a classic. Is it longevity, trailblazing nature when created, backstory/historical relevance, obviously taste, but what features of the taste, and so on?

After last week’s profile of Sugar Creek Malt, Pellicle has moved the focus onto hops. Before I moved to Berlin, I lived in Kent for 10 years so the landscape Will Hawkes describes in his recounting of a visit to Hukins Hops brought back some memories.

The Weald of Kent, which borders Sussex, had 4000 acres of hop gardens in 1979, 30% of England’s total. Even that represented a steep decline from the heyday of the late 19th century, but the last 40 years have been particularly cruel. Hop prices fell through the floor in the 1980s. The Wealden countryside is characterised by the distinctive white hood-like cowls of traditional Kentish oast houses—buildings in which hops were once dried—but virtually all of them have now been converted into homes.

So that Pellicle piece made me little misty-eyed with nostalgia but this next post tugged my heartstrings and brought a tear to my eye. Lockdown isn’t the same for everyone. Emma Inch opens up on Original Gravity about her experience. An immunity system compromised by medication means that she has to go well beyond the standard social distancing.

As a result of shielding, I’m unable to leave the house, even for a short walk. I now sleep in the spare room, use a separate bathroom and prepare my food alone. Such is my apparent vulnerability, I mustn’t go within two metres of the people I live with. No hugs. No kisses. No tickling my daughter until tears of laughter run down her face. No holding my partner when things all get too much. 

I have my fingers crossed and thumbs pressed that hugs, kisses and tickles are on the agenda for Emma again soon.

And finally, David Nilsen brought my attention to Rabid Brewing’s Dino Delivery.

If your thirst for good beer writing is still not quenched, I highly recommend reading Boak and Bailey’s Saturday morning round up and Alan’s Thursday Beery News Notes on A Good Beer Blog.

Stay home. Stay healthy. Stay hydrated

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