Hopulist issue 5

hopulist

Welcome to issue 5 of Hopulist. We bring you the latest news, brews and intrigue from the craft beer universe and we hope you will enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed putting it together. This month we feature Hop Hideout, Home Brew Club, Writer's of Craft, our World Cup 2018 Special and much more...

What has been your proudest

moment?

I’m not desperately keen on

bragging, but since you asked, it’s

always nice to win something. I have

a few awards under my belt. I also

felt a sort of ‘air punching’ type glee

when the WI (Women’s Institute)

magazine commissioned me to write

a big spread about beer. Helping

people choose beer (especially if

they are new to beer and learning all

about it) or discover beer also makes

me feel good.

What has changed the most in

the beer/craft beer industry since

you’ve been writing about it?

That’s quite a tough question. There’s

been an enormous increase in the

number of breweries – in the UK,

in the US, everywhere really. That

was starting when I began writing

about beer but it’s really exploded

since. The concept of craft beer has

gone from being a niche thing to

being quite mainstream - helped

in no small part by the success of

BrewDog. But it hasn’t spread as

far as it could. Away from cities,

big towns and areas where there’s

a conglomeration of interesting

breweries and/or pubs craft beer

might just as well never have

happened – as I found out recently

when I went to a pub in a town

where I used to drink as a teenager.

If I’d stayed there I might think the

biggest development in the beer

world was Guinness making a lager

and that cask beer had really gone

down hill. Sadly, the second point

isn’t a million miles from the truth.

THE WINNER

WAS PACKED

WITH FLAVOUR,

PRETTY HOPPY,

IN GOOD

CONDITION

AND KEPT ITS

CHARACTER EVEN

AFTER SITTING

ON THE TABLE

FOR A WHILE. IT

TURNED OUT TO

BE TINY REBEL’S

CWTCH.

What is it like to be a beer

judge? What do you look for

in a beer? Any notably very

impressive ones over the

years?

Never let anyone tell you judging

is just a jolly where people get

given free beer. It’s work and

it requires skills and focus. I

always learn something when

I’m beer judging, either from

fellow beer judges or from the

process itself. Sometimes it

can be disappointing though.

We’re in this incredible age of

beer, with so many talented and

creative brewers making some

delicious stuff, but the truth is

there’s also a lot of very mediocre

beer being made - and not always

by multinational beer factory

brewers. As a judge you have to

give the mediocre a fair tasting

alongside the better brews and

the outstanding beer. You can’t

simply condemn a beer because

you don’t like it. There can be an

enormous difference between a

beer one doesn’t like and a badly

made or faulty beer. Beer judging

is often about that difference.

What I look for in a beer

is balance, flavour - not just

something you could sip like

water without noticing what it

tastes like - and presentation, by

which I mean the beer needs to

be in tip top condition. It needs

to look appealing, have an aroma

which makes me want to drink it, a

flavour that makes me want more

and be in great condition - not too

fizzy, nor too flat.

Most of the competitions I

judge are blind tastings so I

don’t know what beer I’ve had.

I always think I will note the

sample number and find out

afterwards but I usually forget!

One time when I did find out

though was after judging the final

of CAMRA’s Champion Beer of

Britain. The winner was packed

with flavour, pretty hoppy, in

good condition and kept its

character even after sitting on

the table for a while. It turned

out to be Tiny Rebel’s Cwtch.I

suppose I could add that as a

proud moment, because a fellow

beer writer said to me after that

he wasn’t surprised to hear I’d

judged in the final ‘the year a cool

beer won’.

On the future of beer – what excites you the most? And

what worries you the most?

Sometimes I feel more worried than excited about the future of

beer. I worry that cask will die out. It’s depressing when a pub

doesn’t care about serving it properly and more depressing when

people write it off as fuddy duddy old twiggy stuff. But I also

wonder if there’s an element of some of the many, many breweries

in the UK thinking it’s easy to make beer and therefore turning

out a lot of dross in cask, selling it cheap so it turns up on lots of

bars and then when it’s crap people think all cask beer is rubbish.

Then there’s the fact that there’s a hell of a lot of really bland cask

beer around – those big brands that look and taste like caramel

flavoured water. I do think when it comes to pub closures and

declining beer sales it might have something to do with pubs selling

the wrong beer. The whole anti-alcohol lobby/new age temperance

movement is a huge concern too. Of course we need to be mindful

about how much we drink and be responsible, but as long as we do

that I don’t think drinking is the worst lifestyle choice. Consuming

tonnes of sugar in various drinks and food, not eating enough

vegetables and too much time sat on one’s backside is surely a

bigger risk than having a few drinks.

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