Monday, January 28, 2013

International Homebrew Project Recipe

Ten days ago I posted my annual poll to decide what would be the International Homebrew Project beer for this year. In previous years we have brewed an American Pale Ale, a Milk Stout and a 19th Century Scottish Mild, this year I decided to return to brewing history and brew an iteration of the Burton Ale style.

As I discussed in a couple of posts, heavily informed by Martyn and Ron, Burton was a style that went through many changes between the 1820s and its eventual demise in the 1960s. For some, the apogee of Burton Ale came in the late 19th Century when it was a pale beer with a healthy dose of hops.


In the end, the poll result wasn't even close. The winner was the beer I described as '1870s English, from Burton', which in the real world was a beer by Truman called No. 4. If you know your beer history you will know that Truman was a brewery from the East End of London, they occupied the Black Eagle Brewery near Brick Lane in the Spitalfields area, and were renowned for their porter. In 1873 they purchased the Phillips Brewery in Burton upon Trent, which is where the No. 4 was brewed. At this time, Truman was the largest brewing company in the world, but it was eventually bought by Grand Metropolitan, which was itself bought by Diageo, though the Truman's brand ended up at Scottish and Newcastle. As a footnote to the story, Truman closed down in 1989, but in 2010 the brand was purchased from Scottish and Newcastle and spring of this year will see a new Truman's brewery in the East End of London, I believe their beers are currently brewed at Everards in Leicester.

So, to the recipe itself, which has been provided by Ron Pattison and dates from 1877. The vital statistics are:
  • O.G. - 1.079 (19° Plato)
  • F.G. - 1.024 (6° Plato)
  • ABV - 7.3%
  • SRM - 6 (Gold to Copper)
  • IBU - 125
The recipe is simplicity itself:
  • 100% Pale malt
  • 83 IBU of Cluster for 90 minutes
  • 42 IBU of Kent Goldings for 30 minutes
  • Wyeast 1028 London Ale/White Labs WLP013 London Ale
Basically, use what pale malt you can get hold of on this one. I am planning to use Maris Otter, though I have played with the the idea of Golden Promise. As you can see, this is a big bastard of a 'hoppy' beer. The hop additions should be the same weight for both additions. I did some research and British brewers can get Cluster online at The Home Brew Shop, for those that can't get Cluster, feel free to substitute with Galena, Eroica or Cascade.

With regards to the process, mash at 152°F, sparge at 170°F and then boil for 90 minutes. Talking about the water aspect, if you know the mineral composition of your water, then make the necessary adjustments to match the water of Burton, otherwise I wouldn't worry too much about it, after all one of the interesting things about the International Homebrew Project is the differences between beers brewed in different places.

Probably the most important ingredient for this recipe is the yeast strain, and being a Burton Ale that was actually brewed in Burton, and after consulting with Ron, I would recommend using either Wyeast 1028 London Ale or White Labs WLP013, both of which are reputed to be the Worthington White Shield strain. When I put the recipe into Beer Calculus it was giving me an ABV of 7.9%, so you might want to under pitch the yeast to under attenuate the beer a little to finish out at 7.3%.

The plan is to brew the beer on the last weekend in February, to give people enough time to source ingredients where necessary. I am looking forward to brewing this monster and hopefully it will come out as tasty as last year's 120/- ale!

For those interested in the other recipes, they were:
Picture credit: I got the picture of the Truman's Brewery and Brick Lane from Pub Diaries.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Hand Me Downs

Since the whole 'craft vs crafty' shenanigans in December I have been mulling over some of the criteria that the Brewer's Association has for a beer factory to earn the title 'craft'. I am still of the opinion that 'craft' is a meaningless term and perhaps one that is even quite insulting to the breweries which, through the capricious whimsy of the BA, are designated non-craft in some specious good vs evil dichotomy. Admittedly cynical me will be very surprised if the BA henceforth refused to take money from non-craft breweries to be at events like the Great American Beer Festival.

I really don't have much of a problem with most of the definition of a 'craft' brewery. Making less than 6 million barrels? Sure. Independent? Whatever, I think corporate structure is irrelevant, you can't taste an LLC, PLC or S-Corp any more than you can 'passion'. The word though that I find most disturbing in the definition is 'traditional', defined as having a flagship beer from which the fermentables are 100% derived from malt, or at least 50% of sales need to come from all-malt beers.

When I was a student, back in the dim and distant dying days of the late 20th Century, I did a couple of terms studying New Testament Greek. One of my favourite Greek words is 'paradosis', which is usually translated into English as 'tradition' but for which a fuller and more meaningful translation would be 'those things which are handed down from generation to generation'. Quite why the Brewer's Association decided, when establishing the definition of 'craft' that there was only one true 'tradition' of beer in the United States is beyond me.

If you look back to the early days of brewing in the New World, the English colonists would use whatever source of fermentables they could lay their hands on in order to make a brew. As early as 1584 the Virginia colonists would supplement their malt with corn due to a shortage. In the 1620s, again in Virginia, the colonists learnt how to make beer from maize, and some preferred it to English ale. When Jefferson was looking to make beer at his plantation, just up the road from where I sit typing this, he used maize and wheat, though there are also records of him buying malt from his neighbour William Merriweather.

Jump further forward in time and, during the industralisation of the US in the middle decades of the 19th century, we find German immigrants coming over and longing for German style lager beer. To meet this demand, German immigrant brewers attempted to make beers similar to those found back home, but the local barley was simply not good enough to make a pale sparkling beer like you would drink in the bars of Munich, Dortmund and Cologne. 6 row barley is higher in protein and so these innovators looked to use an adjunct to make the beer taste more like it did in Europe. As a result corn or rice was used to enhance the flavour of the beer so it would taste as expected rather than being unacceptable to their knowledgeable German consumers. From that innovation was born a new, uniquely American beer style (you could call it the first), the Pale American Lager. The remaining family brewers from that period, the likes of August Schell and Yeungling still use corn in their beers because that is what has been handed down from generation to generation, it is their paradosis, their tradition and to deride it as some kind of phoney bad practice is arrogant in the extreme.

The Pale American Lager is probably more of an American tradition than any of the 'craft' beers being brewed from California to New England, and Oregon to Florida. I guess what we really need is to dispense with the whole 'them vs us' worldview, even though it keeps plenty of people in business I am sure, acknowledge that beer can have many paradoses none better than the others, and that there is room for everyone at the bar.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

In Praise of Pints

Is there any more iconic symbol of beer drinking than the pint? Whether it is the American pint of 473ml, or the British at 568ml, or even the 'metric' pint at a round, even 500ml. Beer drinking and pints go together like fish and chips, apple pie and ice cream, or guláš and knedlíky. Apparently the etymology of the word 'pint' is that it originated from a painted mark on a drinking vessel up to which a publican or landlord was supposed to fill in order to give a proper measure of beer.

The pint glass is also iconic, and clearly I don't agree with Ben McFarland in his Guardian article of last year that the pint glass is an 'outdated relic'. My personal glass preference is the classic, some might say 'old fashioned', nonic.


Sure it might not be the trendiest glass in the world, but it does the job - and let's be brutally honest, who really gives a damn about the shape of the glass as long as the liquid in it is good? I don't give much credence to the whole 'different glasses for different beers' malarky and a pint of lager tastes pretty much the same in a nonic as in a fluted glass.

I can think of no better way to spend a Friday afternoon, having finished with work for the week (and I am still looking), than sitting at a bar drinking a few well earned pints. I might have a sample of something, but only to see if I want to have a full pint. I don't want a sample on which to write a review of the beer for websites that advocate its rating, I want to know is this the kind of beer I want a full pint of? I don't particularly care if the beer in question is a 10% imperial stout, I'll just drink my pint all the slower - I have essentially given up on half pints because I invariably get a second anyway.

I only have eight and a bit days until I am finished with my annual beer fast, and I am sure that first pint will taste magnificent. Whether I have it at Beer Run, McGrady's or crack open a Fullers 1845 into a nonic, it will be a pint with which I get back in the saddle, ready for another year of pints. I am looking forward to it muchly.

Friday, January 18, 2013

International Homebrew Project

As we have seen from my posts on Monday and Wednesday beer styles evolve and change over time, dictated by the capricious whimsy of consumer demand and circumstances sometimes beyond the control of the brewers themselves. In the case of Burton Ale it went from being essentially very alcoholic brown syrup to being pale and very 'hoppy' and then back to being dark, though not quite as strong, all in the course of about 150 years.

This evolution is, at least for me, one of the things that makes the history of beer so interesting because it shows that beer is ultimately a human product. Let's face it, what are the chances of barley malting itself, having a quick mash and sparge then boiling itself with some hops, and finally adding yeast? While beer may be made from natural ingredients, and in the case of malt even that is debatable (ever seen malt in the wild?), it is anything but a natural product, it is as man made from beginning to end as the electronic device you are using to read this. As a result of its man made nature, beers from the past can be re-brewed, revived and it is possible to get some idea of what your grandfather was drinking.


Around this time for each of the last three years I have organised the International Homebrew Project, where homebrewers from around the world brew a common recipe and write about the results. Last year, and the year before, we brewed historic beers, a 1930s Milk Stout and 1850s 120/- Mild Ale, and in keeping with this tradition we will be brewing a historic beer again. As you've probably guessed by now, the 'style' we will be brewing is a Burton Ale, but from which era in its development? Well, over the right is a poll with choices of various recipes that I have access to, for different kinds of Burton Ale, whichever polls highest will be the recipe of choice, simples.


The choice of recipe will come from the following:
  • 1860s Scottish version of Burton
  • 1870s English recipe, originally brewed in Burton itself
  • 1900s American Burton recipe
  • 1910s English 'Mild' Burton
  • 1930s English Old Burton Extra
  • 1990s English recreation of 1840s pale Burton
If you plan to join the project, please vote in the poll and leave a message in the comments section or drop me an email.

NOTE: I will be replacing the IHP 2012 page above with a 2013 version later today with a proposed schedule for this year's project.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Original Pilsner?

You all know the story, legendary brewer tinkers with the ingredients and methodology to create a new, paler beer which takes off and is soon being imitated by brewers throughout the land, and eventually overseas as well. However, I am not talking here about Josef Groll and the creation of what would become known as Pilsner Urquell. Rather, I am talking about Samuel Allsopp and Burton Ale.

As I mentioned in Monday's post, and again thanks to Martyn Cornell for this information, Burton Ale was once a nut brown, super strong ale which was shipped to the Baltic region and Russian Empire. This trade formed the basis of business for brewers such as Allsopp and Bass until 1822 when Tsar Alexander I's government instituted tariffs on the importation of beer into the Empire which made the trade too expensive to be profitable for the brewers of Burton. Left with large amounts of sweet strong brown ale on their hands, men like Allsopp needed to find new markets for their wares. In a scenario strangely similar to what would happen in Plzeň exactly 20 years later, in October 1822 Samuel Allsopp produced a new version of Burton Ale, which was less sweet and with a more pronounced hop bitterness than it's predecessor. According to a recipe from the middle of the 19th Century, Burton Ale had also become a pale beer, made with 100% pale malt and hopped only slightly less than the IPA that Allsopp would send to India in 1823.

By the time Burton Ale was being described as one of the four major types of beer being sold in Britain, it had become a 'style', for want of a better word, that had transcended its parochial origins to be imitated by many. In the ancient county of Middlesex, Chiswick brewers Fuller, Smith and Turner were producing a pale Burton style Ale from at least 1845 and would have a beer bearing the name 'Burton', whether pale or dark, until 1969. In Scotland, the Edinburgh brewery William Younger's introduced a range of numbered ales, which bear a marked resemblance to Burton Ales, in the 1850s and according to Ron Pattinson, what became known as 'Scotch Ale' is Burton Ale by another name (which makes you wonder where this bullshit about Scottish beer 'traditionally' not being heavily hopped came from?). Even in the US, brewers such as Amsdell's and Ballantine were making their own versions of Burton Ale. By the time I was born though, in the mid 1970s, Burton Ale, in any form, was pretty much gone, a victim of mankind's slavish attachment to fashion, and perhaps the inexorable march of pale lager inspired by the work of Josef Groll?

I guess it is only natural to find parallels between the development of various types of beer, the interesting thing is to see how they ride out the peregrinations of fashion. Clearly Burton Ale didn't have the staying power of Pilsner, and who is to say whether or not modern IPA will still be here in 20 years time? History is so much more interesting than hagiography and myth, especially when it comes to beer.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Other Burton Beer

Despite the fact that the making of beer has been part of the human experience for at least 6000 years, indeed one of the marks of being civilised in the Epic of Gilgamesh was to be a beer drinker (though I am sure ancient Sumerian 'beer' was a very different beast from the modern stuff), there are places which are renowned for their beer throughout the world, for various reasons. Whether it is Plzeň for its pale lager, which spawned endless imitations, Dublin and the stout porter that would define not just a beer style but an entire country in the minds of many, or Munich for its dunkels, there are some cities where beer is the very stuff of life.

One such city is Burton upon Trent in the English Midlands, an area rich in the history of the Industrial Revolution. At one point the city was home to more than a dozen breweries including such world famous names as Bass, Allsopp and Ind Coope. To put that into context, Burton is about the same size as Charlottesville and in the city proper there are currently 2 breweries. When people think about the Burton brewing industry they think of a style of beer which has come to embody in many way the modern brewing industry, India Pale Ale. However, when in 1948 The Brewer's Art listed the four main types of beer being brewed in Britain they were 'pale ale, mild ale, stout and Burton'.

Burton Ale is one of those beer styles which is almost extinct, I say almost because it would seem from my reading (mostly Martyn Cornell's 'Amber, Gold and Black', various of Martyn's blog posts and magazine articles, and naturally Ron Pattinson's blog) that the style lives on in the Winter Warmer genre of strong English ales. In common with many beers, Burton Ale evolved. Over the years it went from being a super strong nut brown ale shipped to the Baltic region to the Victorian era beer made to a recipe of pure pale malt and Kentish hops to create a beer which was about 6% abv and slightly less hopped than the IPAs being sent from Burton to India. Seemingly, and again most of this information is from Martyn, as the Victorian age gave way to the 20th Century Burton Ale became darker again and then in the decades immediately after the Second World War, the style practically died as the public turned away from dark, sweet beers in favour of pale, bitter ones.


According to Martyn's book though, there are still some beers out there which meet the description of a Burton Ale, whether the paler 19th century version or the darker 20th. Fuller's 1845 is apparently based on a Burton style recipe from the Griffin Brewery, Timothy Taylor Ram Tam is an example of a lower strength dark Burton, and Young's Winter Warmer is, according to Martyn, a 'classic of the Burton Ale type'.

Of those three, I have only had the pleasure of the Fullers 1845, and a mighty great pleasure it is, but I have it in mind to try creating some clone recipesof the various stages in the development of Burton Ale for my homebrewing this year. Brewing old beers is one of my favourite types of history (and history is probably one of my favourite things in general), the type you can drink.

Friday, January 11, 2013

To the Half-Dark Side

As I alluded to on Monday, I don't think it is possible, or even desirable, to force Czech beer into an essentially Anglo-American taxonomy. As such even I cringe when I use the term 'Bohemian Pilsner' as a catch all for the wonderful pale lagers produced throughout the Czech Republic, and think it should only apply to pale lagers made in the city of Plzeň itself. Anything from outside the city, though it may be made in the style of a Pilsner beer, is a Bohemian Pale Lager.

I am sure that some will see that as splitting hairs, especially given that the essential process of making Plzeňský Prazdroj, Budvar or Svijany Rytíř is the same, but I think it is a question of respect. A sparkling wine that comes from California, Spain or Australia is not a Champagne, even though it may share may characteristics, the same holds true for Pilsner. When I first moved to Prague I noticed that often Prazdroj drinkers didn't like Budvar, and vice versa. For many years I much preferred Budvar to Prazdroj, though now I like them both equally, depending on my mood and in my opinion tankový Budvar is every bit as good as tankový Prazdroj.

Anyway, back to my original, though so far unstated, theme for today. I plan to brew my first beer of the year on Monday, a polotmavé výčepní or 'half-dark tap' beer. If you want to force it into an entirely made up style for the Anglo-American mind, you could call it a 'session Vienna lager'. Of course polotmavé pivo is related to Vienna lager, although this type of beer was practically dead until 1999 when, to use Evan Rail's turn of phrase, Staropramen 'in a strangely heroic move' gave new life to it with Millennium. The recipe for my beer is as follows:
  • 48% Bohemian Pilsner malt
  • 42% Munich malt
  • 9% CaraMunich I malt
  • 1% Carafa II Debittered malt
  • 17 IBU 8% AA Kazbek for 60 mins
  • 10 IBU 3.9% AA Saaz for 15 mins
  • 0.5 IBU 3.9% AA Saaz for 1 min
  • Saflager S-23
The vital stats for this beer will be, hopefully:
  • OG 10.2° Plato (1.041)
  • FG 2.6° Plato (1.010)
  • ABV 4.1%
  • SRM 13 - copper to red
I plan to ferment the beer in my garage, which is sitting at about 49°F, or 9.5°C, at the moment, for about 2 weeks, with a diacetyl rest indoors at 60° for a week thereafter, followed by 4 weeks in the fridge, lagering at 38°. I haven't decided yet if I am going to attempt any decoctions for this one, though I am tempted to try a single decoction.

In theory in should be ready for March, and perhaps the National Homebrew Competition, though quite which category I would enter it in I have no idea.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Square Pegs Round Holes

Back in the death throes of the 20th century, when I moved from Blighty to the Czech Republic, beer came in a few very broad categories, lager, old man ale and Guinness. Lager was pale, vaguely tasteless and often drunk straight from the bottle. Old man ale was everything else that wasn't Guinness. Generally speaking I was an old man ale and Guinness drinker, depending on my mood. Lager was something I didn't really drink, unless it was Czech, my first Gambrinus was had in an All Bar One in Birmingham, Polish, drinking Hevelius Kaper with my girlfriend at the time's father is one of my earliest foreign beer memories, or German, usually Becks. Pretty much all I knew of lager back then was that anything from Central Europe was, by definition, better than the cans of Tennent's Lager that we used to indulge in as teenagers.

Moving to Prague, and staying for 10 years, shaped my drinking life far more though than those early years of surreptitious cans of Tennent's or even my first legal pint of Guinness. It was in the Czech Republic that I learnt that lager came in a range of colours, světlý, polotmavý and tmavý, pale, amber and dark, and even in strengths, lehké, výčepní, Ležák and Speciál - 'light' (sub 8° Plato), 'tap' (8-10.99°), 'lager' (11-12.99°) and 'special' (13°+) respectively. Essentially, for the duration of my life in Prague there was no such thing as beer style, just beers of varying colours and strengths. Often even phrases such as výčepní and ležák were irrelevant, because you ordered your beer by the number of degrees Plato, thus you ordered a 'desítka' (10°), 'dvanáctka' (12°) and so on. Most pubs would carry a grand total of three beers, a 'desítka' a 'dvanáctka' and a 'tmavý', and when you simply asked for a 'pivo' it was invariably 'desítka' that was soon in front of you. If you didn't fancy a 'světlý' or a 'tmavý' and the pub didn't have a polotmavý, a fairly regular occurrence back then, you would ask for a 'řezané pivo' or 'řežák', a half and half mixture of a pale lager and dark lager, both of which should have the same Plato. Apropos of nothing, the longer I lived in Prague, the more often I would have a 'řežák' when I was out and about.

The reason I mention all this is that when people ask me my favourite beer 'style' I hesitate for a moment, not because I can't decide between a Czech pale lager and a dry Irish stout, but because in my mind there is no such thing as a 'Czech pale lager' or a 'Bohemian Pilsner', but rather there are desítky that I love, dvanáctky I can drink until the cows come home and Speciály that rock my boat like the Minch in winter. This is, for me, one of the big failings of websites such as RateBeer and BeerAdvocate in trying to shoehorn the various Czech beers in an essentially Anglo-American taxonomy.

When we had our celebration of Czechoslovak independence back in October someone brought a six pack of Lagunitas Pils. When one of our Czech guests drank it, he grimaced and simply pronounced 'this is not Czech', and went back to drinking Port City's Downright Pilsner, which reminded him of the great beers from home. He didn't care for style, for numbers, only that it tasted right.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Tis the Season?

Mrs V is a teacher, I may have mentioned that before, and her school is currently still on its winter break. As such, and because I am still looking for my next job, we are enjoying a rare opportunity to spend an extended period of time together without the intrusions of the real world. We are starting to make plans for our vegetable garden, talking about where to put the fruit trees and berry bushes, we pop out to the shops, or just lounge around watching films and junk on the tele - once she is back at school though, the TV gets replaced with listening to daytime radio, an infinitely less moronic choice over daytime TV.

Yesterday we headed into the nearest little town to us to mail some parcels and go get some groceries at our local Food Lion, having eaten through the inevitable leftovers of Christmas. As ever, I perused the beer aisle with my usual critical eye - which basically involves walking past all the 'domestic' beer ('domestic' in the US beer scene appears to mean anything made by a brewing conglomerate, you could say 'large and foreign owned' if you were a snarky git) to get to the 'beers I might be interested in drinking' section, even though there are another 27 days before I have a drink again.


In the coolers I saw a beer that to my mind had no place being there, at least not yet. Already, with the 12 days of Christmas still in full swing, were 6 packs and 12 packs of Samuel Adams' Spring seasonal lager, Alpine Spring. Now, don't get me wrong, I loved Alpine Spring when it first came out last year, as did Mrs V, but having your Spring seasonal in the shops on January 3rd is simply ridiculous. According to convention here in the US, Winter itself only began 2 weeks ago - convention here is that the equinoxes and solstices  mark the beginning of seasons rather than the midpoint as in Britain. Spring doesn't begin until March 21st and yet already there are Spring beers in the shops?

You can argue until you are blue in the face about the need for retailers to have ever changing product to keep customers interested, or distributors wanting the seasonals ever earlier to get them on the shelves but to be perfectly blunt it often seems that the unseasonal seasonals are a rapacious attempt to fleece the consumer for money by using their desire for something new. Would it really harm business to hold off on the Spring beer until at least the beginning of March, at least then I could actually drink the beer in the appropriate season?

Photo credit: taken from the Samuel Adams website.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Looking Ahead

Well, we made it. 2013 is here and as modern day Mayans have been telling us for most of 2012 their calendar did not predict a cataclysm. Given that it is January now, I am in the early stages of my annual booze fast. I realise that some people think giving up the booze for a month is pointless from a health perspective, but I like to go the entire month without mainly to prove to myself that I can live without it for extended periods of time, also I find my tastebuds to be pretty jaded by the end of the holiday season and they appreciate the break as much as my liver.

What about the rest of the year though, what do I hope 2013 will see happen in the beer drinking and brewing world? This isn't really a list of New Year's resolutions, rather an overview of things I would like to see happen in the next 12 months.

Top of my list is hoping that some will get their heads out of their arses and smell the free air again rather than wallowing in the stink of their own shit. There are times when I get the feeling there are people in the beer world carving out their own little fiefdoms and then they stomp their feet in a mass hissy fit when someone comes along to do something similar. The whole Brewers Association 'Craft vs Crafty' thing was a case in point, not only did they bang on about what or what isn't 'genuine craft' (cynical side note - at this rate 'craft beer' will become the US equivalent of 'real ale' in the annals of annoying terminology). They also managed to insult a large section of the beer drinking community by claiming that many people don't realise that something like Blue Moon is a MillerCoors product - more likely is that most people don't give a shit, they either like it or they don't. I fail to see the point of picking ridiculous fights, especially when the BA are then happy to take BMC money for associate membership and presence at the GABF. At the end of the day it is the beer that counts, not the corporate structure of the company making the beer, so how about everyone just chill out, remember it is only beer and get on with enjoying beer in all its forms?

Another thing I would like to see is more session beer. As a man who likes a drink, well, ok then, likes plenty of drinks, preferably sat in the pub with mates, maybe playing some pool and generally having a good time, I like session beer. Having more breweries exploring the range of styles out there that can be brewed to have less than 4.5% abv would be a great thing - while there are some good session beers being made by the breweries in my part of the world, not one of them makes a bitter with any regularity, or a mild or even a brown ale. Indeed, I can can think of just 3 regularly brewed session beers available from my local breweries, Starr Pils and Dark Starr Stout from Starr Hill and Devils Backbone's Gold Leaf Lager.

Finally, and probably my most ardent wish for 2013 is for the word 'lager' to stop being used as a lazy synonym for crap beer. Forgive my cynicism but anyone can make an IPA, whether golden, white, black or any other colour, dump a shitload of hops into it and call it 'craft beer', but making one of the lager styles properly takes time, patience and a willingness to tie up your capital for far longer than for a warm fermented style. I have no problem with people not liking a given beer style, but sneering at an entire family of beers simply because they are lagers shows nothing more than the drinker's ignorance. From the desítkas of the Czech Republic to Polish Baltic Porters, the world of lager is vast, diverse and packed with flavour, just get out there and try stuff, you never known, you might just find that you love lager as much as I do.

What do you want to see in 2013?