There's lots of good stuff in there with the latest news on the London (and wider) pub scene, and I've written a piece about cask Altbier in Dusseldorf and an emotional farewell to the gone-but-not-forgotten Brew Wharf.
Oh, and there's an advert that really fucking wound me up something rotten.
I know. I know I should probably be thinking about the victims of the earthquake in Nepal or the grieving relatives of Keith Harris, but it's always the little annoyances that get to me. Partly because I know most people aren't going to be bothered about it.
Beer Rant AlertSo, this is the offending ad:
The Windsor & Eton brewery have a beer out called Magna Carta. Actually two beers called Magna Carta. Possibly even three.
At 4.0% ABV it's a sessionable cask ale for easy drinking. Unless you have the bottled version which is a rich, strong Barley Wine-style beer at 7.2%. Same name. Same branding. WTF?
How on the remotest quarters of King John's Earth can 7.2% and 4.0% beer possibly be the same thing? It's ridiculous. It makes fuck-all sense and in a world where even indistinguishably similar beers have different names, it's almost certainly terrible marketing.
(Oh and to confuse things further, a cask version at 7.2% also exists - I had it at an Egham Beer Festival a few months ago.)
It's the sort of cardinal sin normally committed by the big, bad bastards of the brewing industry. Change the recipe. Keep the name. Hope nobody notices. But you don't expect it from a respected micro.
Fairly obviously, all they needed to do was to either call the strong version something like 'Magna Carta XL' or the weak version 'Modicum Carta'.
In the past W&E have got it right: Conquerer 1075 is brewed to an original gravity of 1075 degrees, and thus got a different name to distinguish it from the regular Conquerer (5.0%) which is only right and proper.
You just can't go around fundamentally changing recipes like this. What if Diet Pepsi were renamed 'Pepsi' and was branded identically to regular Pepsi apart from a tiny sticker that said either 1 or 200 calories, depending on what was inside the bottle? Would consumer groups - and indeed the consumers they represent - stand for that senseless confusion for a single second?
Generally I like the Windsor & Eton brewery and their beers. Conquerer was one of the first Black IPAs available around here, and it's a pretty decent example. Parklife is a hoppy boys bitter that packs a lot of flavour into just 3.2% ABV, and some of their seasonal beers like the vanillary Treetops stout and Windsor Knot Lychee Special have been inventive and delicious.
But they've got it wrong on this one. Badly wrong. I wonder if anybody else even cares?