On a Sunday morning you might very well ask what I am doing checking out the beer blogs, instead of lets say attending church or rattling the lady squeeze and without being unnecessarily crude the squeeze is on the rag, so the Sunday lie in and rollabout under the duvet was not on the cards this week. I appreciate you are not interested in the menstrual cycle of my good lady so no more will be said on the matter.
I’ve just returned from church in what appears to me to be an admirable (on my part)) act of hypocrisy. How this affects the Sunday lie in going forward I have yet to discover but I’m hoping it’s occasional and not an every Sunday thing. In order to be married in a church she’s decided that we are both to start attending it. My agnostic religious beliefs are based firmly in bone idleness and apathy. I accept others have an opinion either way on matters of faith but I neither know nor care and don’t intend on starting. I’m going along with something to make someone else happy and in all honesty the opinion I have formed is that religion is fairly boring. I have no problem with the wide diversity of human nature and belief, and am a live and let live kind of guy. I am uncertain what life guidance an elderly repressed homosexual can offer me and the squeeze based on an old book of dubious translation and authenticity, though the singsongs are not too bad. Jerusalem is a good number.
But back to the beer, last night I was drinking a copious amount of ice cold refreshing and delicious Carlsberg Export. An all malt lager beer brewed in Northampton and variously referred to by beer writers as “chemical” or “inauthentic” or even “piss”. This beer is a delicious example of a pilsner style lager brewed with quality ingredients. The ingredients are on the label.
Recently I was reading Protzy's blog and noticed the scorn in regard to mass market large scale production-based lager beers. His scorn was based on the existence of maize in the recipe for Stella Artois. Now my perspective is this. There is just as much human history of fermenting maize, as there is barley malt. Fermented maize was an important part of the religious rituals of the ancient Inca tribes. Rituals that appear from what I’ve read to be more interesting than the Sunday morning I’ve just suffered. There is nothing wrong with fermenting maize. Looking at other adjuncts like rice, we can find plenty of evidence of rice based alcoholic beverages fermented in ancient china. Sake, or rice wine, being the obvious example.
I then got to wondering, is there an acceptable set of ingredients that beer can and cannot contain? Is Protzy’s view based on reason or faith in regard to the beer bible? Despite not being a CAMRA member I read the recent beer magazine (I didn’t pay for it, I read someone else’s, freeloading as you expect) and discovered Protzy extolling the virtues of Scottish ale brewed with a number of unconventional ingredients. You can take the view that it is to create interesting flavours or reduce expensive conventional ingredients with cheaper domestic produce.
Is there a difference in adding flavours like bog myrtle and seaweed in one beer, and adding maize and rice? Is it about tradition or innovation and is one better than the other? If you have a style of beer like Pilsner Lager, which is delicious and understandably the most popular beer style in the world, you would expect it to be brewed everywhere in the world. You would expect to find a pilsner style beer brewed in America to Japan, and everywhere in-between. You would expect them to look at the ingredients and see whether it was possible to brew it using a proportion of local grains alongside the barley malt. Customers compare both price and quality, and you would expect brewers to consider cost whilst maintaining an acceptable quality. So the world contains no shortage of Pilsner style beers brewed with numerous recipes and all of which Protzy and co would consider inferior and inauthentic. This is clearly hypocrisy. There I no defined recipe for anything, and if it’s okay to experiment with bog myrtle it’s fine to brew a beer with rice. But as I discovered this morning we are all hypocrites if there is a convenience in it, and we are free or otherwise in how we take the sermon that is given us. We take it or leave it, and when it comes to Protzy I remain both a blasphemer and heretic.
You would expect this hypocrisy to be backed up by way of a greater purity in the pongy ales in comparison to the cooking lagers. Well I’ve been looking around. Of those mass market lagers the following have their ingredients clearly on the can or bottle. Carlsberg, Carlsberg Export, Heineken, Stella Artois 5% & 4%, Beck’s 5% & Vier, Grolsch. Not one single ale either in cans or bottles in the supermarket had the ingredients displayed. Cop outs like “contains barley”, for sure, but the only ale I am aware of that informs me of what is in it is Sam Smith’s Old Brewery Bitter. On the beer mat, in a Smiths pub, you can read the beer is water, barley malt, hops and yeast.
It appears that if I wish to drink pure beer, where I know what’s in it, I would drink lout and steer clear of the pongy ales. If I am concerned about what I drink then I would drink something that is unambiguous in regard to its contents.
With my faith confirmed, I shall have a bottle of Beck’s with the Sunday roast I am preparing. A mass-produced consistent quality beer that does not hide its ingredients. Whether deciding on the basis of reason or faith, cooking lager is the discerning choice of the informed.