Monday, 19 July 2010

In a Far Away World

I am continuing to look back with some fondness to my starring days on rfdb, the Yankee led newsgroup which I contributed to for many years.

In this month in 1999 I was looking forward to the American beers at GBBF (I am this year too. 1999 wasn't the first year I'd worked at GBBF, but was when I started my relationship with BSF, which continues to this day.) In 2000 there was rather a long thread on the same subject and a meet up to taste American Porters. In 2001, I did tasting notes (rather better ones) on Victory Prima Pils, Victory Hop Devil and Great Lakes Brewing Burning River Pale Ale. I was also planning a trip to Snoqualmie Falls Brewing and one to see Mike McG who was brewing at Zero Degrees in Blackheath. We also discussed some remarks by Michael Jackson on British Brewing, given in a television interview.

Michael's comments are worth reading and probably as relevant today, Or are they?

“ Having worked as a producer, as well as a presenter and guest, over

several decades, I presumed to give her some advice- - especially, to be aware that, just as she was getting into her stride, the item would be over.

She did well. Pity about me. The four-minute discussion, with we two guests and the usual male and female duo as presenters, quickly moved away from the ads.

"What can the British ale brewers do to fight back against international brands?" asked presenter Jeremy Bowen. "Be like the Americans: proud of their products and shouting it from the rooftops," I replied. [Even veterans of live tv get a rush of blood to the head in those hasty minutes. I am summarising my memories; there is no transcript]. "It isn't always easy to find a good pint in Britain," Bowen observed. "For a truly hoppy one, I go to America," I announced, realising a second later that I had just offended all my buddies in British breweries. Just to compound the insult, I added that British brewers had their heads in the sand. I had hoped to provoke a lively discussion but, just as I was getting into my stride, the item was over.

The brewers with their heads in the sand do not attend the Great British Beer Festival, which opened that afternoon. Those who did attend spent a great deal of time trying to bash my head -- and body -- through the floor.”

Now I have rediscovered this valuable archive, I might just bore you again.


The Beer Nut said...

Ah Jeremy Bowen's brief spell as a light news presenter. Christ he was awful at it.

ZakAvery said...

Harumph - I was just about to post a blog about American beers at this year's GBBF.

MJ inadvertently cussed out the contemporary British brewing scene. Last year, I asked James Watt (BrewDog) of he was going to the GBBF, and he said somethng along the lines of there being too many boring beers and too many boring people there.

Of course, we have MJ to blame for BrewDog's success - he was very complimentary about their early experiments, as detailed here.

I can't think of anyone who is as proud and as vocal about their beers as BrewDog. Is that the sort of thing you had in mind, Tandleman?

Tandleman said...

@ZakAvery - Well it was Michael Jackson wot said it, but yes I do think brewers should big up their beer and what they do. Assuming the beer stands up to it of course, but the general principle is sound.

As for boring beers - well there is surely something for everyone in a days drinking at GBBF and you'd need to be pretty fussy to think every beer is boring. If James finds all the people boring, he could always bring his own non boring peeps with him I suppose. Or talk to me? (-;

MicMac said...

While I was at ZeroDegs, we won a couple of beer awards, one judged by MJ, so he came out to see us - he is a big part of why I became a brewer, so it was a really big deal for me having him there.

We somehow ended up talking about food & drink TV presenters, I said that people like Jilly Goolden maybe do more damage than good - putting people off with their annoying over-the-top delivery. MJ replied that she was a good friend of his & that in her early days he had advised her to be as enthusiastic and dynamic as possible . . .

Taxi for Mr McG . . .
They say you should never meet you heroes, what they don't say is that if you do, it's probably best not to inadvertently insult them!

Tandleman said...

Ooops. I suppose the only good thing is that he probably deleted you from his memory banks contemporaneously!

Jeff Pickthall said...

Jacko was a big influence on me too. I still have my battered copy of his Belgian book in which I ticked pretty much every beer.

Every time I met MJ in person, knowing I was from Barrow-in-Furness, he would engage me in conversation about Rugby League, something I know zilch about. He seemed to relish the opportunity to talk about anything other than beer.

Pete Brown said...

The point about British brewers not bigging up their beers enough doesn't just apply to brewing. I've been thinking about this as a potential area for a next book. Why does the government not serve British beers at diplomatic functions? Why does the new deli near me stock a big range of Italian and French cheeses but no English ones? Why do the French have 90-odd EU Protected Designation of Origin products when Britain has just 16? And why does even talking about this make me sound like a Daily Mail reader?

Interesting to see that, as with most stuff, MJ got there first.

Tandleman said...

@PeteBrown "Interesting to see that, as with most stuff, MJ got there first."

His prescience was possibly his best feature. Way ahead of most people.

DJ said...

RIP to the great man.

Martyn Cornell said...

"as with most stuff, MJ got there first"

Indeed. Having recently completed the research for my own little bit in the BHS Michael Jackson tribute edition due out later this year, I can say that comparing beer writing pre-World Guide to Beer and post-World Guide to Beer is staggering and revelatory. The man made an unbelievable difference to how beer lovers think about beers.

MicMac said...

What particularly stands out for me was the way at his best, he combined the historical, technical, cultural and the personal all into writing about a product that previously the world had seemingly considered not to be worthy of consideration.

When the subject was of particular interest the writing was sublime - e.g. Sam Calagione at Dogfish Head -