News, Nuggets & Longreads 18 March 2017: Bibles, BrewDog, Bulldogs

The brewhouse at Zero Degrees, Bristol.

Here’s all the beer- and pub-related news and reading that’s seized our attention in the last week, from marriage equality in Australia to takeover tremors at BrewDog.

A quick mention, first, for Nathaniel Southwood whose post on why he’s done with beer festivals went mildly viral on Reddit this week, somewhat to his surprise. We’re also festival sceptics and so, it seems, are plenty of other people out there.

Portrait shot of Mike Marcus.

For Brewers’ Journal editor Tim Sheahan has profiled Mike Marcus, the outspoken founder of Manchester’s Chorlton Brewing Co. At times aggressively political on social media, and committed to producing challenging beers, his comments come across as refreshingly unvarnished:

Some people can’t understand why we don’t have a business model to sell to a bigger business. Sure you have some exceptions in the UK with the sales of Meantime and Camden Town but with something like 1,700 breweries, how many are going to exit like that. Ten, maybe. Who knows? I want an investor that backs me and works with me. It’s why we’ve never done crowdfunding, everyone is looking for an exit.


A glass of beer at BrewDog Bristol.

With that segue, let’s turn to BrewDog: in the last couple of weeks the Scottish brewery has written to shareholders (PDF) and posted on the forum for ‘Equity Punks’ (crowd-funding backers) with news of changes which pave the way for an outside investor to acquire a 30 per cent share of the company by, in effect, downgrading the value of shares held by smaller investors. There’s a short summary of the main points by Kadhim Shubber at the Financial Times (registration required) and Glynn Davis at Beer Insider provides helpful commentary:

Crowd-funding is being marketed to very small investors who probably do not have much finance experience. They think they are buying ‘shares’ but if their pre-emption rights are being widely removed as an original condition, then they are not getting what any reasonable person would view as equity… I strongly suspect that the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) will be along shortly to inform BrewDog, CrowdCube et al of this very fact.

Detail aside, this tells us that a move everyone has been waiting for is finally underway. We doubt very much that the particular investor BrewDog is courting is a big multi-national brewery — they’ve just banged on about that so much when they didn’t need to that we can’t see it happening. But who knows.


'Keeping it light' title card from the controversial video.

Last weekend we saw Tweets from Luke Robertson (@AleOfaTime) highlighting that Australian brewery Cooper’s had apparently sponsored, or endorsed, or otherwise become entangled with, a Christian group opposed to gay marriage. In the days that followed this story blew up, garnering global coverage and becoming a flash-point in the ongoing battle between conservatives and progressives. Luke’s commentary, updated through the week as the story developed, is a good place to start if you want to know more.


A red door at the old Thwaites brewery.

Katie at The Snap & the Hiss visited an exhibition of photographs of, and at, the old Thwaites brewery in Blackburn. Richard Tymon’s pictures, of which Katie shares a few examples, look lovely, but hers aren’t half bad either.


A beer pump handle.

Alec Latham, our Golden Pints blogger of the year for 2016, has been reflecting on night shifts, social exhaustion and the role of the pub, with his usual literary flourish:

On the surface, I’m brittle, unable and even unwilling to socialise. Underwater, I watch the surroundings around me with detachment like I’m drifting around a fish tank. But something to do with body and mind trying to re-align makes me privy to nebulous thoughts played out across time. It’s not something I try and do but something that lies in wait for me.

(Contains descriptions of an amorous bulldog some readers may find disturbing.)


Beer bottles labels: 'Product of Northern Ireland'.

Roy who writes about beer in Northern Ireland at Quare Swally has been investigating the origins of various beers marketed as local and wasn’t impressed by what he found:

Gallopers/Night Cap doesn’t do much better – simply stating it’s produced and bottled in the UK.  It’s actually brewed by Sadler’s Ales down Birmingham direction.  The postcode on the label isn’t much use either as it’s an office postcode beside Belfast City Hall.  A couple of minutes of online investigation work leads you to other registered addresses in South Belfast and Manchester.


Finally, here’s a fantastic story in pictures from architectural historian Kathryn Morrison:

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