Category Archives: Beer history

Non-Craft Sub-Brand

In a weird inversion of the usual arrangement, a self-consciously-‘craft’ brewery has just launched a retro ‘real ale’ sub-brand. Well, sort of.

If you’ve read Christopher Hutt’s 1973 book The Death of the English Pub then you’ll know the story of Bullard’s of Norwich: along with the city’s other brewery, Steward & Patteson, it was taken over by Watney’s in 1963, and both breweries’ own bitters were replaced by a generic Norwich Bitter. Then, in 1968, Bullard’s brewery was closed down.

Nearly 50 years on, Redwell (perhaps best known for its dispute with Camden over the trademark ‘Hells’) has acquired the rights to the Bullard’s brand and revived it for a line of cask ales designed, in part, to appeal to those who have fond and lingering memories of the old brewery.

Redwell isn’t brewing on the old Bullard’s site, or using the original branding and, unlike other revived brands (Joule’s, Phipps, Truman’s) there has been no attempt made to recreate historic recipes, or even to ‘take inspiration’ from them. Bullard’s old yeast strain hasn’t been brought out of retirement, either, so, there’s really not much of the original brewery here beyond the name.

And here’s why we said ‘sort of’ in our introduction: the packaging still uses the C-word — ‘Craft Beers Brewed in Norwich’ — and the first products on offer are East Coast Pale Ale, ‘brewed with new world hops’, and a ‘hop bomb of an IPA’.

This isn’t, therefore, the perfect irony we’ve been waiting for — a trendy craft brewery aping the look of, say, Shepherd Neame, in order to market cask mild and best bitter on the sly — but it’s still, we think, an interesting development.

For more details, and some spiky local reactions, check out this substantial piece on the launch in the Eastern Daily Press.

Types of UK Brewery

From time to time, we feel compelled to categorise things. It never really works but, in the attempt, we usually learn something.

This time, we found ourselves wondering about the many different types of brewing business to be found in the UK today and how they relate to one other. (We did something similar before, but that was more abstract.)

Chart of UK brewery types.
(CLICK TO ENLARGE — OPENS IN NEW TAB/WINDOW)

We’ve tried to provide an example for each type, though we struggled to think of an active cuckoo/gypsy brewery, and a very approximate sense of what arrived when.

If the family groupings we’ve come up with work, then you should be able to think of a brewery and find a home for them.

Much more likely, however, is that the first comment below will name a brewery which breaks our classification system.

Flawed or not, we’d be interested to see similar attempts from those who know the beer scenes in Germany, Belgium, the US, or anywhere else — does this look pretty familiar, or wildly different?

GALLERY: More Brewing Aristocrats

These pictures of British brewing bigwigs all come from the 1900 Licensed Victuallers’ Year Book and follow on from this post from last June.

Sampson_Hanbury
Mr Sampson Hanbury, business partner of Benjamin ‘Ben’ Truman from 1780. (To be played by Michael Douglas in the upcoming HBO feature film ‘Behind the Mash Tun’.)
Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton.  (Nephew of Sampson Hanbury, and the Buxton in Truman, Hanbury & Buxton.)
Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton. (Nephew of Sampson Hanbury, and the Buxton in Truman, Hanbury & Buxton; really did not want to pose for this portrait, or could smell gas at the time it was being drawn.)

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The Lilliput Beer Book, 1956

This short pamphlet given away with a men’s magazine in the 1950s is far from essential but, if you find a copy going cheap, it’s worth adding to your collection.

Lilliput magazine, December 1956.We first became aware of it rummaging through a bin of assorted old magazines in a local retro-vintage emporium, where the word ‘beer’ leapt out at us from the cover of the December 1956 edition of Lilliput. Frustratingly, in that case, the booklet was long gone. We guessed, given the year, that it might be a promotional spin-off from Andrew Campbell’s Book of Beer, published in the same year, but couldn’t find any information online, and copies for sale on eBay were always rather too expensive to take a punt.

Last week, when we saw another copy on offer for £15, we decided to bite the bullet. It arrived tucked into a copy of the magazine, apparently untouched despite its age, with a bundle of original leaflets selling encyclopaedias and life insurance.

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