Here are a few things I learned in 2015.
- The NHS will not cope with the impending diabetes epidemic.
- Life expectancy may begin to decrease due to obesity.
- Craft beers are sweeping beer drinkers’ taste buds, on both sides of the Atlantic.
Writers on beer and brewers of beer will be justly proud that the hard work and money they have invested in improving British beers has been worthwhile. Remember when the famous Burton brewery, Allsops, was usually pronounced, ‘Allslops’. Things were dire.
One of the breweries to have profited from the efforts of CAMRA members, is the Black Sheep Brewery in Masham, just off the A1, as you pass through North Yorkshire. It is a brand I would choose when approaching the bar, and I’ve given a talk, within their hallowed walls, and then bowed my head in reverence in front of their Yorkshire Squares.
Early in December, I did a neighbour a favour. As a thank you, she brought round two bottles of beer. Yorkshire Square Ale and Riggwelter, both from Masham. I looked forward to trying them and was disappointed. The ABV of the Yorkshire Square Ale was 5%. That requires a good amount of malted barley. So why did the beer taste thin? Malt brewing should make beers with body.
I checked the ingredients. I expected a craft-brewed ale to contain only water, malt, hops and yeast. In fact, it contained water, malted barley, wheat, sugar and hops. Why wheat and sugar? Where is the yeast?
Wheat is a so-called grit. Ask a brewer why they use grits and they will answer, “Three reasons; price, price and of course, price.” One could write, “greed, greed and greed,”
Barley malt is the preferred source of starch to make fermentable sugar but is expensive. Wheat, which isn’t malted, costs much less. A craft beer should not be stretched with grits! It should be brewed from malted barley as the only starch source.
Why sugar? Some brewers refer to sugar as a grit. Sugar is cheaper than all other sources of sugar, because, obviously, it doesn’t need to be malted from barley or hydrolysed in the mash. It converts readily into alcohol during fermentation, but provides no body to the beer – hence the thin taste to the Square Ale.
Final question. Where was the yeast? Every beer is fermented with yeast, and there are always residual amounts left in a craft brewed beer. Unless the beer is filtered after fermentation. I would like to hear from any craft brewer, who considers filtering acceptable practice. It removes trace amounts of solids and alters the flavour balance of the beer.
Plenty will shout, “You cannot tell a filtered beer from a naturally bottled and conditioned one”. Do a blind tasting and make up your mind.
Another bottle I received as a present was from the Bradfield Brewery in Sheffield. The label lists its ingredients as containing Barley and Wheat. Despite my initial outrage, I’m sure the barley was malted, so it should say malt or barley malt. Was the wheat malted? Probably not. Another smoke screen to cover bad habits?
Bless them – no added sugar – and you could taste it.
Please, craft beer drinkers, when you purchase a beer, check the ingredients list, and if it contains sugar, get an email off to the brewery saying, “Don’t want no sugar in my beer.” Maybe point them at a YouTube URL to hear the Nina original. The eroticism in that voice will make any brewer or brewster tremble. It’s enough to sour their worts.
CAMRA and their helpers have done all the hard work. The microbreweries profit from their efforts, but we must prevent them backsliding for increased profit.
Sugar, sugar everywhere! Obesity and diabetes are a blight. So why does M&S mint sauce contain 17.3% sugar? Are they trying to kill their customers? Mrs Beeton says, “Add sugar with discretion until required sweetness is obtained”. Her point is – you can add sugar; you can’t take it out. It is called customer choice.
Why is sugar the flavour enhancer of choice in nearly every savoury conserve? Pickled onions (18%), Branston (29%), ketchup (23%), salad cream (usually over 20%), Piccalilli (18%) – the list is endless.
Crie de Coeur. Please let us, like Nina, decide where we want the sugar while we still have a heart beating.
Stop Press – Jamie Oliver wants to see a sugar tax introduced.
Beer buffs. Pick up my free Pale Ale PDF download at www.montagpublications.co.uk