16. September 2021
Welcome to the third issue of the SBR in 2021. We now seem to be able to glimpse the outlines of the world on the other side of the corona crisis, and this far it seems that our industries have – in most countries with the gracious help from governmental support packages – weathered the storm far better than I think we all feared for a long time. So let’s join in the hope that the most pessimistic virologists are wrong in predicting that the delta variant of the virus, and potentially new and even more aggressive mutations, will cause the level of infections and serious illness caused by these to increase dramatically during the coming autumn and winter. We want and desperately need to get back to normality!
The very neutral headline of this editorial would indicate that there is no overriding theme dominating this issue. This is correct. Our intentions were originally, as a logical follow-up to the Norway theme in the previous issue, to continue down the road of country-themes with Sweden as we did the last time around in 2019. But due to a series of unforeseen misunderstandings we have had to postpone the next Sweden-theme issue to the No. 4/2021, which will be released up to Christmas. But this gives me the occasion to underline that the country-themes are here to stay, as they are key to the relevance of the SBR in the countries we serve.
The corona pandemic is not the only major ‘disruption’ that has hit the world in general and our industry in particular – and the craft beer industry most of all segments – during the past year. The ‘second wave’ – I hope you forgive this reference to the covid-pandemic – of the #MeToo revolt against sexism and abuse of women that first appeared in the US in 2017, has hit our industry in a quite significant way lately. And what is interesting and remarkable is that it is not limited to focus on sexism, but on top of this some of the most succesfull craft brewing companies in the world, and certainly in Europe, BrewDog and Mikkeller have found themselves in the middle of a SoMe shitstorm attacking these companies at their most vulnerable point, namely the – spoken as well as unspoken – alternative and more progressive attitude to being a business – being better, more holistic and empathic than the traditional big companies. If you as a business – whether you’re a craft brewer, or any other business, for that matter – you’re positioning yourself at great risk if you claim the moral high ground. If you say that you do things differently and better than the rest, then the hammer hits a lot harder if you’re caught behaving unethically in whatever way. Not only will you suffer loss of credibility for seemingly small affairs that other companies may just handle with a shrug, but both the purists and the evil minded will be on your back, also in situations where there’s no reality behind their criticism. Because as we all know, even unfair and unfounded accusations circulated on the social media will cause damage to a company. And in this context, it is imperative for me to underline that my dealing with this topic does by no means mean that I support the criticism against Mikkeller and BrewDog. I have absolutely no ‘behind-the-scenes’ knowledge that enables me to judge whether the criticism is fair or not. In this case, as in the judicial system, the rule we must remember is that everyone is innocent until proven guilty.
We feature an article, ‘BrewDog and Mikkeller embroiled in the culture wars’ on this topic in this issue, and for those interested in the ‘soul’ of the craft brewing community, we also feature an article – co-written by Elva Elena Kowald from Cerevisia Communications and the undersigned – on the fascinating and highly contagious subject of the definition of craft beer and how this has evolved in the cradle of craft brewing – the USA.
Other than that, the magazine you have in your hand, feature a hopefully enjoyable mixed bag of articles. We finish of the three-part article by Martyn Cornell on the history of porter brewing in Scandinavia, and we continue our ‘world premiere scoop’ article series from Tim O’Rourke called ‘Back to Basics 2’, this time with the second part of the article on yeast structure. We have articles from a number of suppliers – from Hopsteiner on the antimicrobial effects of hops, from Totally Natural Solutions on the use of Natural Hop Extracts for Low and Zero Alcohol Beers and finally, from the yeast supplier Lallemand on selecting novel yeast strains for brewing unique beers.
On the more general level, we have two articles reporting on conferences held earlier this year – the BoE Forum and the VLB Craft Brewing Conference, and we finish these invigorating fireworks with an amazing trio: An article by John Brauer and John Lenzini titled ‘Fermentability ratios, attenuation scores and drinkability’ and two articles that look a bit into the future for the brewing industry: One written by brewing icon professor Charlie Bamforth on trends in the brewing industry, and the other, dealing with the trends within ‘non-beer’ products produced by brewing companies – ‘Beyond beer: there is no other way’ by my favorite industry observer and writer, Ina Verstl.
Also, we’re bringing you a review by Kim L. Johansen of the brand-new ‘The Beer Brewing Guide – EBC Quality Handbook for Small Breweries’ from the Brewers of Europe and the EBC – a book Kim says will become part of the brewing education curriculum at the University of Copenhagen. Bringing reviews of new important books on all aspects of our industries and markets is an ambition for the future, better and more interesting and relevant version of the SBR that we’re currently working with our ‘owners’, the Danish Master Brewers’ Guild, on creating. You, dear reader, can play an important role in this process, if you’ll share your ideas about new books that deserve a review in our magazine with us. Better yet, if you’ve read such a book, write a – brief or lengthy – review of it and send it to (e-mail address below…).
Along these lines, I’ve been in a dialogue with the Editor in Chief of Brauwelt, Lydia Junkersfeld, about establishing an accord allowing us at the SBR to re-print some of the excellent articles from Brauwelt in our magazine. And I’m happy to report that things have fallen into place – my sincerest thanks to Brauwelt and Lydia – in such a way that onward we’ll be able to annually bring you the 2 or 3 best of these articles in slightly abbreviated versions in the SBR.
Finally, our usual reminder that our offer of free subscriptions to the SBR still stands (go to https://scandbrewrev.dk/subscribe/ and sign up). So why not tip a few friends about this offer? With more than 250 new subscribers/readers this far, the success has made us extend this offer to last until we and the board of the Danish Master Brewers’ Guild have finished discussing making it permanent.
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Technical Editor – Scandinavian Brewer’s Review