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The Great Christmas Ale Hunt

Here’s a mystery – with Christmas and winter ales available from hundreds of British brewers, amply stocked in the larger branches of all major supermarket chains, where are the reviews of them in the press?

The food and drink supps of all major newspapers are, like every year, suggesting treats for the Christmas table. Observer Food Monthly had a page of festive wines and a selection of whiskies, but no mention of beer.

This must be a bit galling if you’re a brewer. You create a recipe specifically for the season, often using seasonal ingredients, and succeed in getting major retail distribution. Here are magazines with pages to fill, with writers and readers who are interested in more seasonal, natural food. And they recommend wines that are no different than those available all year round.

You could say people like me should be the ones writing, but I was away last week, and anyway, when I’ve tried before they don’t even return calls or e-mails.

Why do the press try so hard to pretend beer doesn’t exist? Have we done something to upset them? Maybe I’m wrong.

If you’re in the UK, and you have seen any Christmas or winter brews reviewed anywhere, please let me know!



Lars Marius Garshol

Careful what you wish for. 🙂

Here in Norway there’s a very long tradition for Christmas beers, and newspapers duly review them. The trouble is that many of the reviewers are people who think beer = industrial pale lager, and so they slaughter the microbrews for not being drinkable enough, according to their standards.

Hence a new sign of Christmas approaching in Norway: irate beer fans lambasting the ignorant reviewers.


Waitrose “Thirst” has a single review of Fullers Jack Frost and a whole section on Belgian beers. And lots about wine.


It’s interesting, because in my experience non-ale drinkers are more willing to try ale at Christmas – something about not wanting fizzy lager, or perhaps being too wasted after the Christmas party. Plus the fact that there’s so much interesting stuff out there at this time of year – it does all seem like a missed opportunity on behalf of the brewing industry or CAMRA.

Perhaps a few of the bigger boys and CAMRA should sponsor a glossy photoshoot in a couple of food magazines, if nothing else.


I think it more fumdamental than than a bit of advertising It’s a simple class war. The vapid media types who run the major food publications have a small mind set of what is aspirational when it comes to food, which revolves around the small axis of white wine, olives, lemon grass and this year pomegranite. Their idea of food is still some stone scrubbed tuscan table with some faux rural pasta on it or square plated high end asian place nonsense . Beer especailly British beer is too common, too prole for them to even think about (the working clas are fine abroad making street food it’s the one’s at home they are scared of. They would have to go on photo shoots to Burton not Sangimiano (sic). It’s plain old snobbery, self defeating snobbery at that as i’m always amazed on practical grounds that they don’t write about beer simply to fill up space , or even that the photo editor wants some jolly beer labels to brighten up their spread.
Anyway I’m near a booths for new year what xmas ales should I buy?


I think you have to look to the regional newspapers — they have news stories about the releases of seasonal beers cause they are desperate for free stories, but then maybe the breweries should be sending pr releases out (a bit of work for us there) and banging the drum a bit more. As for coverage of beer in the nationals, this is a bit like taking on Al-Quaeda — you just have to battle away.

Sid Boggle

The Independent did a ’50 best…’ feature in their Sat listings mag early in December, but it looked suspect, and was impossible to work out who had compiled it, or who had been involved in tasting. I’ve seen one other ‘feature’ which amounted to half a page with 3 or 4 bottles from bigger brewers – can’t remember where, sadly, so it obviously made a big impression. It’s well-known that writers like Malcolm Gluck hate beer, and I suspect the ‘lifestyle’ brigade who mastermind the socio-economic tone of our newspapers think that beer isn’t in the aspirational upwardly-mobile demographic they want their ‘offering’ to appeal to. Fuck ’em, more good beer for me… B-)

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