Thursday, 30 December 2010

2010 Wish List Reviewed

I said earlier that I was going to review my wish list for 2010 that I published on 31/12/2009 and I will, but was also going to slip in one or two other thoughts, though I am wary of doing so, given Pete Brown's fatwa on opinion, individuality and writing on your blog, just what you fancy. (As an aside I don't agree that discussing on the web, those aspects of beer that interest you most, will remotely put off new drinkers of beer. They aren't the target. I've converted quite a few in my time and it is the age old way of "try this, you might like it.") So just shut up Pete.*

So back to where I started and what I wished for in 2010:

* Cask Ale quality and quality control. This needs to be upped massively in most micro breweries and in a hell of a lot of pubs. There is too much beer that should never have left the brewery and too much that shouldn't either be put on sale, or remain on sale

Not much improvement there at all, if any. I continue to be surprised at the low standards in some places and in places that really ought to know much better. This is a game that has to be considerably upped.

On Industry:

* the beer industry needs to start speaking with one voice before it all goes (even more) tits up. Pete Brown mentions this a lot and I agree with him. I don't personally think the BBPA is the answer any more though. They are so tainted by their PubCo connections that they lack credibility

Not much improvement there at all, if any. Sniping at CAMRA and SIBA for example seems to have increased.

On Family Brewers:

* Family Brewers have a unique position in the UK. They own pubs and breweries and need to make the most of that simple fact. No-one expects them to change from bread and butter brewing, but they need to be bolder, at least on occasion. Too many samey brown beers and a "we know best" attitude from some, is wasting opportunity. They need to be careful that beer life and fashion doesn't pass them by and consign them to the dustbin of history. In short, they need to wake up

More positive here I think. The success of the micros and bigger "small" brewers is starting to rattle the family brewing fraternity. They are producing more interesting beers. Adnams and Fullers have led the way, but others are following, with Thwaites returning to cask in a big way, Robinsons building a new brewhouse from which great things are being hinted at and even JW Lees making its export only ales such as variants on Harvest Ale and Manchester Star available in the UK and producing next year a hop laden feast of seasonal brews. So, some hope there of further progress.


* CAMRA needs a complete "purpose review". It is becoming clear that nationally it is a lobby group, while locally it campaigns for pubs and beer. That needs to be looked at. The fact that no matter what it does, it can't please everyone shouldn't stop an independent look at its purpose in a changing UK beer world with resurgent cask consumption. It needn't be expensive, but it does need to be neutral in authorship and it needs to be done. Too many are sniping at CAMRA and while a lot of it is just lazy stereotyping, some of that sniping has justification. CAMRA needs to respond to the concerns. It is so much bigger now. It needs to change for that reason alone

Well we have the review and I'm on the committee. I doubt if our conclusions will shake the world to its core, but the things that people complain about, are being discussed, debated, defended, countered and considered. You'll have to wait and see on that one, but one thing I can say; it was a motion that I seconded at the CAMRA AGM, that brought this about and neither I nor the proposer intend to support the outcome if it doesn't fairly cover the concerns that brought about the motion in the first place. That doesn't mean that we expect to get our way on everything, but we do expect a reasoned discussion of all concerns and so far, that has certainly been the case. And one more thing: I am now much more aware of the impact CAMRA has behind the scenes. The best work isn't always shouted from the rooftops.

On Bloggers:

* Not writing about the 95% of beer drinking is as myopic as not writing about cutting edge stuff. Arithmetically more so. Some too, need to get out and about a bit more, particularly to the pub; they need to raise their heads up and look around them. So I'd like to see broader blogging

This is a work in progress, though the odd chink of light appears!

On Twitter:

* Twitter less and comment and write on blogs more. Comments are needed to encourage bloggers. No comments = no point in a lot of ways. Surely there are enough things on blogs worthy of comment?

If anything this has gone backwards. It may be beer blogging is in terminal decline, though one or two new blogs, such as Oh Good Ale give me a bit of hope.

On Pubs:

* Visit them

You know, I think bloggers are doing a bit more of that, with quite a few exceptions of course.

On Me:

* Hope fully I will continue to blog as long as it interests me and my readers. I will call it as I see it, like it or lump it. I'll get it wrong, but hopefully, it will be worth reading, at least sometimes

Yes I'm still getting it wrong and right. I'm happy enough with most of what I do and I think that some of my stuff has actually improved. Also my readers don't complain that much and I'm still up there in the ratings, which is nice.

Well there you have it. Some good, some bad and some things just don't change. I won't be doing a look forward for 2011, I think I'll go for a drink instead, but I will leave you with my top three cask beers of 2010.

1 Fyne Ales Jarl

I was alerted to this by Mark Dredge. He was right. So good to drink, with a beautiful citra led nose and despite heavy hopping, no harshness whatever. It's a beer I could drink all day and one from which it is really difficult to tear oneself away. This is (almost) beer perfection.

2 Crown Brewery Brooklyn Heights

A perfect balance of hops and malt which simply enthralled me. A real treat.

3 Lees Plum Pudding

The brewer tells me that this year he has toned down the sweetness, tweaked the bitterness and fruitiness to make it better balanced and more drinkable. He is right. A wonderful refreshing, complex, fruity/bitter beer with an aromatic dry, bitter finish. One just isn't enough.

* This is entirely tongue in cheek of course and I will be naming my top three blogs tomorrow and maybe more!


Unknown said...

I deem this article to be worthy of comment.

ChrisM said...

Me too, if only to say Fyne Jarl truly is a fine beer!

I also agree with much of what you have said on your look back of your wishlist, especially on cask ale quality. It's still a lottery in all but the best beer houses, and even occasionally in them!

Have a god start to 2011, Peter, and see you at NWAF!

Neville Grundy said...

Good post, TM. If anyone tells bloggers what they should and shouldn't write, that person is a complete prat, irrespective of what awards have been given them. I sometimes find their own blogs implausible and boring.

The only measure that counts is whether anyone reads what you write. On that basis, beer blogging is not in decline.

Anonymous said...

Fyne Jarl was my beer of the year too by a country mile, we drank the cask dry on a sturday afternoon at the Marble Arch...pure delight!! Tara