Thursday, July 31, 2008

Banforth Speaks

(left to right) Bamforth with Mark Taylor, Zymurgeeks, Dave Bossie.

Charlie Banforth , chair of the food science technology department at UC Davis spoke tonight at the Bookshop Santa Cruz promote his recent book "Grape -vs-Grain". From what I've read, Mr. Banforth brewed at Bass while living in England. Worked at Anheuser-Busch after coming to the States and is now at UC Davis. He has 30 years experience in the brewing industry and seemed pleased to share some along with a fair amount of humor all the while pushing the sale of his book. A fair number of Zymurgeeks were present and Banforth was kind enough to have his picture taken with us after signing our books. When asked what he considered the greatest challenge to modern brewers he said packaging and preserving the beers fresh qualities were the challenge. He also clearly stated that he didn't like overly hopped beers that many micro breweries were producing lately. He emphasized the importance of balanced beers. He said that there are a lot of great beers to be drunk and said that he wouldn't say what his favorites were before going on to include 'Boddington' and 'Newcastle'.
I ended up buying his book although much of the information in it has been covered by others in the past like Gregg Smith's book 'BEER A history of suds and civilization from Mesopotamia to microbreweries' and Christopher Finch's 'BEER a connoisseur's guide to the world's best'. Banforths book includes the history of wine and makes a case for moving beer up the ladder of respectability in high society. He actually declared beer superior to wine in numerous ways but insisted that he wasn't bias in the least. I asked why large producers of 'lite American lagers' insist on promoting their product as needing to be 'ice cold'. Banforth responded with stories of wanting a beer that is extremely cold for those hot days at the ball game, and how refreshing and satisfying it sounds. I followed up with the question, "would 'bud' taste good served at 50-55f. and he flatly stated 'No' and moved on to someone else.

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