Found another beer and history website for all of us that geek out on the longer arc of beer history. Written by Dr. Christina Wade, Braciatrix covers women in beer history and Wade is both a medieval scholar and BJCP judge so she has some serious bona fides.
Definitely start with her BeerHerstories list and then make sure to be on the look out for her book when that comes out.
Maybe instead of the admittedly great Guinness, you try a coffee Guinness instead?
I mean, that pour is feckin’ Beautiful and coffee and stout just sing together. Just not Danny Boy. Not a fan of that song.
Two men sitting around a dock waiting for a relative to arrive (or maybe depart) by boat may make some think of the famous play Waiting for Godot and you would be right to think that the slim Night Boat to Tangier treads that territory. Two aging Irishman with a past of misdeeds and sexual dalliances are looking for the daughter of one (or is it the others) who left three years ago and hasn’t been heard of since.
The book made the New York Times Best of the Year list but it was a little too cold and calculating and left chunks of the two leads lives open to interpretation. There were repetitive lines as well that I understand were part of a poetic musicality, keeping up a pace but it did not work for me. Overall, I was more interested in the daughter character and her arc and with an interlude at a haunted housing development in Ireland than in Tangier.
To drink with this book, I would recommend finding a flight of Witbiers that utilize different spices. Eagle Rock Brewery has their Manifesto as well as variants (one with lemongrass) that would mimic some of the spices used in the food that you might find in Tangier.
I do not know when this beer came about, if it’s a retired beer or if it is being sold in the US but when I saw that Guinness spun two of their beers into a blend with Timmermans of Belgium, I really wanted it. This Lambic meets stout is a mix of Guinness West Indies Porter (1801), Guinness Special Export (first brewed in 1944 exclusively for John Martin) and Timmermans Oude Kriek (the world’s oldest lambic brewery).
The description from the Timmermans website sounds delicious, “A unique dark beer with a subtle pink hue in the foam. Aromas of chocolate, oak & cherry. Full flavoured and beautifully balanced.”
The Milkman was passed down from my Man Booker Prize fan (and beer fan) Rich. This book requires getting into a reading rhythm. It is a little stream of conscious, lots of tangents and backtracking and the there are no names. Just Maybe Boyfriend, Ma and, of course, Milkman.
But when you get going you start to feel for the protagonist. She is trying, at a young age, to navigate minefields of social convention, war and duplicity and hormones and parents. And she doesn’t hesitate to think back on actions and words as wrong at the moment and wish she had done different. You really begin to root for her to succeed in life and to find the more that she wants instead of the life being laid out in this Irish town.
To drink with this book, I would try to find a brewery with a Pink Boots collaborative beer on tap or in cans (Pizza Port has one). Almost as hard to find would be a Dry Irish Stout but that would set the mood as well. Or you could encourage the wild and crazy and have a lactose-y Milkshake IPA to nod at the Milkman of the title.
In our (and my) rush to talk about new beers and new breweries, it is easy to forget the third places that have existed for years and really serve a vital role. The simple pub.
There is a scene in The Irish Pub where one of the owners of a traditional Irish pub states that you don’t need a psychiatrist if you can pop dish to pub and have a “chat” with the other regulars. There is truth to that.
This documentary on Netflix runs an hour and fifteen minutes and does a fair survey of pubs from big city Dublin to other corners and crannies of Ireland. Topics like, the Snug, music, economics, regulars and others get asked at each locale and you learn not only about the pubs and people but about the country too.
You could argue that this isn’t beer related or craft beers related. And you would be right. This is most certainly NOT about beer or whiskey but rather the people that serve it and consume it. The cinematography is well done. It is easy to photograph a pub exterior (which they do) but another thing to light the interior of a bar area that re-creates what it would look like if you were drinking there while seeing the person interviewed.
Check this doc out with a pint of Guinness in hand.
I have nothing against the idea of brand extension on the face of it. You make one type of pie and it’s a good pie, then make another flavor or do another pastry. Same goes with beer. You make a great stout, you should be able to also brew a black lager if you want to. Or even an Irish conglomerate spin on an American water lager.
Where brand extension goes awry is the “Why?’. Are you doing it challenge yourself? Cool. Is it a style that complements your current offerings. Again, cool. Is it a stylistic one-off or seasonal? Brew on then.
But when you are doing it because your “growth” is slowing or because the “market” demands it then consumers (and especially craft beer people) quickly see through it as a ploy and nothing more. And to a certain extent, that is also fine if you are making a good beer for the wrong reason. The reason being a mere grab at the wallet with NEW!
But what is sad is that there is a huge missed opportunity here. Guinness could have done a peat smoked barley Irish rauchbier. Or something else that utilizes a local ingredient or theme. Instead they are doing a lowest common denominator “American” lager? As if that is needed. Quality Kolsch we need. Quality Pilsner we need. Quality blonde ales we need. But a (presumably) adjunct heavy light lager? I think that not-so-prized category is covered.
We head to Ireland and a new holiday offering from Guinness, Generous Ale….
“Inspired by Arthur’s philanthropic legacy and devotion to generous, full-flavored beers, Guinness Generous Ale is special edition holiday beer that was developed in a traditional winter ale style, but with more body and the distinct roast for which Guinness Draught is known. With a rich amber appearance, the vanilla notes accent Guinness Generous Ale’s silky, yet vibrant taste.”
Our final Irish stop had one of the most intriguing names on the Beoir website, Metalman
According to their blog, they didn’t get the hops that they had ordered so their flagship pale will be tweaked this time around but I still put i down as one to try just to see how the American hop gets used by Irish brewers. Their Summer and Fall seasonals sound tasty as well.
Metalman Pale Ale
“American style pale ale, dark gold in colour with a delicate white head. Citrus and floral aromas lead into hop flavours characterised by grapefruit and mandarin produced by American hops. A dry bitter finish makes this an eminently enjoyable and refreshing beer.”
Windjammer – Summer Seasonal
“A pale amber beer, hopped exclusively with lots of New Zealand varieties. An antipodean extravaganza, lightly carbonated with a soft bitterness from a combination of Southern Cross and Pacifica, leading into tropical fruit flavours of pineapple and mango, with the wonderful addition of grapes from Nelson Sauvin hops – a delightful spring beer!”
Alternator – Autumn Seasonal
“Hazy golden wheat beer with a punchy Belgian twist! Alternator is a light-to-medium bodied beer, lightly bittered, with a citrus finish from Cascade hops which is complemented by spicy flavours from coriander, pepper and a saison-style yeast.”
Our second stop in Ireland courtesy of interwebs help at the Beoir site is at Messrs Maguire
But there are not going to be any stouts, Irish or otherwise for me, if I visit. I will be heading straight to two German styles.
“A classic of the style, winner of the Best Overall Beer Award at the Independent Irish Beer & Whiskey Festival 2009. This strong beer is easy drinking, with a mild malty aroma and a medium body. Reasonably sweet for a stronger beer, this finishes clean and crisp and leaves you wanting more.”
No3: HAUS LAGER
“A classic European pilsner-style lager, hopped with specially imported continental hops – Czech Saaz and Bavarian Hersbrucker – to impart a crisp, moderately bitter flavour. This beer has a dry, subtle maltiness with a nice floral aroma.”