By way of either a little light relief or as education, the guest speaker spot at the CAMRA's Annual Conference is eagerly awaited by most of us that attend this august gathering. This year I was particularly thrilled when I found it to be Charles Bamforth, Anheuser-Busch Endowed Professor of Malting and Brewing Sciences at UC Davis University of California. He is also British and has much experience of brewing here, mostly as a Senior Quality Assurance Manager at Bass Brewing.
Now I have known of Charlie for many years and was in fact given a book of his by a good American friend of mine as long ago as 1999. That book, Tap Into The Art and Science of Brewing is my technical bible. I know from industry sources and my friend (Jaime Jurado, Director of Brewing Operations at Abita Brewing Co and formerly a brewer at Truman's in Brick Lane, London) that Charlie is one of the leading experts in CO2 in beer and in what bubbles do and don't do. He knows his stuff. I rarely if ever get too involved in any technical debates in my blog or elsewhere, as you tend to be a hostage to fortune in such things and I sometimes at least don't feel secure enough to go into technical matter too deeply, but if I do, I check out the "bible" before doing so. You can imagine then I was delighted to have the chance to hear Charlie speak.
He obviously has a practised act, honed to a very sharp point by use and his very funny and amusing speech was delivered with timing that a professional comedian would have been proud of. He took the mickey out of wine and its pretentiousness, had a very positive view of cask beer which he declared to be without equal when done well and generally anecdoted his way through a very entertaining half hour. He also (to my surprise in some ways) expressed a dislike for nitrogenated beer. It was an interesting speech as well as a very entertaining one. There was time for questions at the end before he whizzed off and I was lucky enough to catch the Chairman's eye and be allowed to ask one. My chosen subject was about deliberate turbidity in beer. London Murky in other words. Essentially his answer was that while a little haziness might be forgiven, there is no excuse for beers that look like "chicken soup."
Good enough for me. If Charlie is agin it, I'm on his side. If you dispute this, write to Charlie, not me. He'll put a(kindly) flea in your ear I'm sure.
Jaime is a bit of a whizz at the old dispense too. I remember being invited to Porterhouse in London by him when he had sorted out some fobbing issues for them.
Regretfully Charlie was gone immediately after his speech, so I didn't get a chance to talk to him. Great shame that.
A bit of a CV. Tandleman is a veteran beer lover, local CAMRA Chairman and activist, beer writer, beer reviewer and pursuer of all things good in beer. He lives in the North West of England and London. Despite his CAMRA membership, he does not limit himself to cask conditioned beer, though he believes that cask conditioning, when done correctly and appropriately, brings a quality to beer that is hard to equal by any other kind of presentation. He is a strong supporter of Northern methods of beer dispense and avidly detests poorly presented beer and dislikes pasteurisation. He regularly visits Germany, has conducted corporate British and German beer tastings for CAMRA at the Great British Beer Festival where he has worked for years on Biere Sans Frontieres and was Deputy Organiser at CAMRA's very successful National Winter Ales Festival in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 and at the Manchester Beer and Cider Festival from 2013 to date. He admires good brewers wherever they are and has travelled extensively in pursuit of good beer to drink. He also judges beer at both the International Beer Challenge and the World Beer Awards.
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