Three cheers for three chunks of good news for beer, first of which is of the schadenfreude variety. Eurocermex, European distributors of the market-leading Mexican Corona, has lost in its bid to trademark a physical object: a clear bottle containing yellow liquid (no sniggering please) with a wedge of lime in the bottleneck. This has long been the cool way of serving Corona, possibly because the lime gives flavour to what would otherwise lack it almost entirely, and the company wanted to ensure that no other beer could be served this way. The European Court of Justice has rejected the bid. If you want to order a different beer with the telltale wedge, you are free to do so. I hope you won't want to ruin good beer in this way, but that's another matter.
News item number two: the admirable Cask Marque organisation ( www.caskmarque.co.uk) has been hunting down pubs serving beer at insanely warm temperatures. Cask Marque is an industry-funded but non-profit and independent group that accredits pubs (around 3,700 so far) that serve beer correctly. Cask Marque is particularly keen on temperature at the moment because it's hot out, and they report that they've found one place where the beer reached 35C - nearly shower-temperature - with temperatures from 26C to 28C not uncommon. The correct temperature for most beers is 11C to 13C, so we're talking about serious heat here.
I asked my beer-specialist pal Roger Protz for his views on Cask Marque. Roger, an editor of www.beer-pages.com, and author of the forthcoming Camra book 300 Beers to Try Before You Die, thinks very highly of Cask Marque. "It is a major breakthrough: brewers, through CM, are ensuring that cask beer is properly cellared and served. It's vital work because one warm, cloudy pint can put a drinker off cask beer for life."
And the final bit of good news: this year marks the 25th anniversary of another admirable organisation: the Society of Independent Brewers and Beer Academy. Siba is another major campaigner for proper British beer, championing the small brewers who have stood in the face of corporate golems whose guiding principle can be summed up as "profit first, quality - what's that?" For years this has been an uphill battle. Small breweries got bought up for the sole purpose of closing them down.
But the battle for small-production beer may have benefited from an ally it never expected to have: the growing interest in local production and uniqueness. Britain's great beers have not just survived but (sometimes) thrived against the odds. Britain now has more micro-breweries per head of population than any other country. To quote Roger Protz again: "Siba is a major force in the brewing industry. It has grown despite the hostility of bigger brewers. It is due to Siba and Camra pressure that the Government has introduced Progressive Beer Duty, which means smaller brewers pay less tax on beer than the bigger ones."
Siba has made me an offer I couldn't refuse. It has teamed up with the Beer Academy, formed to provide the catering industry with courses on beer, to give you the chance to have a day's training course at a convenient regional Academy centre. I haven't been on one of the courses myself, but I know people who have and report great things. You'll learn about brewing, beer styles, and beer-food matching.
To enter, send your name and address and phone number to Beer Competition, R&R Teamwork, PO Box 50633, London SW6 5XR. Names picked out the hat on 5 August will get to attend. Go on. Take part in the beer revival. But leave your lime at home.
Top corks: Three beers to cheer
Brakspear Triple (£1.99/500ml, Waitrose) Massive alcohol (7.2 per cent) but massive flavour to go with it: creamy, intriguing notes of dried fruit, and lots of hops on the finish.
Duchy Originals Organic Summer Ale (£1.69/500ml, Waitrose) Ideal warm-weather ale brewed by Wychwood in Oxfordshire. Sprightly and complex at the same time. (4.7 per cent ABV.)
Rolling Hitch (£1.69/500ml, Asda) A beautiful IPA from the Darwin brewery in Sunderland. Lots of dried-citrus peel and spice on the palate, vigorous hops on the finish. (5.2 per cent ABV.)Reuse content