Thursday, May 23, 2013

Beer market research

Oh the sacrifices I make in finding out facts for my readers. I've been doing more in depth analysis of the Cambridge Beer Festival catalogue. But before all that, a report on today's events.

Today we went to find to more about a dead body at the end of our garden. Well, just outside our garden actually. Our house backs on to a church graveyard and just beyond our fence lies the body of one Frederick Jackson a noted polar explorer who led an expedition to Franz Joseph Land and rescued the more famous Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen after he had failed to reach the North Pole in 1896. Anyway, here in Cambridge they have the Scott Polar
Museum where we learned a big more about our illustrious near neighbour as well as the harrowing story of the ill fated Scott expedition to the South Pole. Good museum, and well worth looking you if you are in Cambridge.

Later we called in to see how Amy and James (the Ducks)were progressing with their fitting out of mb Willow. So far so good, but my word they have plenty to keep them busy for a few months yet. We do admire their energy in bringing this great old boat back to life.

Afterwards we all toddled over to the beer festival were we continued our diligent research into beers and ciders, plus a very interesting mead. After James and Amy left to get a bit more done on their boat, we fell to chatting to two complete strangers who happened to be sharing our table. So pleasant were they that we all ended up tasting each others drinks and had a very jolly evening.

Now to the serious matter of the answers to last nights quiz about beery adjectives. My analysis of the beer festival tasting notes showed the the most popular descriptors were.

1. Fruity with 33 mentions
2. Citrus with 25 mentions
3. Chocolate with 16 mentions
4. Spicy with 11 mentions
5. Floral with 8 mentions

So we may presume that these flavours represent the most popular tastes in modern real ales.

You may well be surprised at the rating for chocolate, but perhaps not when I point out that it is a taste most often applied to descriptions of stouts and porters, probably made popular in the younger generation thanks to Arthur Guinness.

Stouts and porters in fact made up 33 of the 212 beers at the festival, even more than the currently fashionable golden ales of which there were 25 to taste. Surprisingly, there were 25 miles on offer and no less than 19 "speciality beers" contains various fruits and the like. Of course the rest, about half of the list consisted of standard bitters.

As to strength, the majority were in the normal 4 to 5 percent alcohol band, although there were 44 beers at less than 4% and only a handful above 6%. I think the strongest was a stout at 10.5%.

Maybe you can guess the percentage alcohol of a beer called Pi.

I have to say that I was generally very impressed by all the ones I tasted. Most were really lovely. There are some very clever brewers out there these days. CAMRA certainly know how to keep and serve a beer in tip top condition. It's a pity that a lot of pubs can't do the same. It strikes me that the big improvement in beer flavours in recent years has mainly come for the wider variety of hops in use, particularly those from abroad. They really do produce some amazing flavours.

Perhaps the nicest drink we tried though, was a lovely apple and pear cider from Herefordshire. Sadly it ran out before we could return for a second helping.

So that for us was this years Cambridge beer festival. Friendly, very well run, and very popular- it looked no less crowded than last year when they had 41,000 visitors over the week.

Tomorrow we set off for Crick. From beer to boats.


Halfie said...

Well, I got two of the top four. At least I still remember pi to seven decimal places!

Vallypee said...

I'm pleased to see the great tradition of beer sampling is still alive and foaming :-) I would never have expected such adjectives though. Chocolate? As a description for beer? Wonders will never cease :-)

Oakie said...

Interesting and informative research Neil, but judging by one or two mistakes in your text, I think you were still under the influence when you wrote this Matey!