Category Archives: Blogging and writing

The Campaign for Unreal Ale: Deleted Scene

Our first piece for All About Beer magazine, ‘The Campaign for Unreal Ale‘, went live this week.

We wanted to focus on a particular moment and challenged ourselves, as with the recent piece on Covent Garden ’75 in BEER, to use only the words of those involved.

Of course, there’s a bit of a con there: the faux-oral-history format implies the absence of an author when, in fact, we’ve selected quotes from much longer transcripts, based on questions we asked, in order to tell a particular story in 1000 words.

By way of additional context, here’s a bit from Alastair Hook we didn’t use:

[My criticism of CAMRA in The Grist] didn’t necessarily chime with the heart-chords of SIBA members who were mostly cask ale brewers. In fact, it wound them up.

The late Michael Jackson told me, ‘Only ever talk good things of beer’, and that’s what I try to do, so, for all their ills, CAMRA have spent decades promoting good beer. (I’m just not sure they know what it is.)

I don’t have a problem with CAMRA – I don’t think about it. It’s irrelevant. What was strange was when I gave a talk at the Great British Beer Festival but my own beer, from Meantime, got stopped at the door by some jobsworth who wouldn’t have it on the premises because it wasn’t real ale. Isn’t that weird? Absurd.

It’s no wonder that people are sometimes confused about Mr Hook’s stance on CAMRA: even though it can sound extreme — ‘the idea that oxygen improves beer is just absurd’ — it’s actually rather complex and, dare we say it, emotional.

We’ve illustrated this post with pictures of Hook and Haydon scanned from 1990s copies of The Grist, the copyright holders of which All About Beer weren’t able to track down. If that’s you, and you’d like us to add a credit or remove the image from this post, let us know.

A Month Off

We’re taking a month off and will be back in August.

As per our own advice, we need to recharge our beer blogging batteries and concentrate on some non-beer-related projects for a few weeks so we’re not going to post anything here at all.

The 11,000+ word essay we’ve just put up is about equivalent to a month’s-worth of blogging at any rate. You might notice that comments on that post are disabled — that’s because we won’t be around to moderate them. If you’ve got an important correction to make, or it prompts any burning questions, email us at

This is probably also a good time to remind you to download Gambrinus Waltz (cheap) and Back of a Beer Mat (free) for your Kindle, if you haven’t already.

We’ll still be Tweeting, though a bit less than usual, and Facebooking as and when we feel the urge.

The Month That Was: June 2015

Here’s everything we posted in the last month — not a bad run, considering we spent a week on holiday in the middle.

Proposed Public House — As ‘new towns’ and Corbusier-inspired estates were built in the rubble and green field of post-War Britain, pubs were a focus of debate.

→ Notable Pubs #2: The Crooked House — In Himley, just over the Staffordshire border near Dudley, is one of the weirdest pubs in Britain.

→ Sarah Warman: Influencer — Is there anyone talking or writing about beer with anything like the ability of Jamie Oliver or Delia Smith to mention a product and immediately cause it to sell out across the country? We reckon Sarah Warman might be the one to watch. (Literally.)

Brewery Numbers and Employment — The boom in the number of breweries in the UK has caused a buzz but isn’t the only important number: how many people are actually employed in making beer?

Session #100: The Return of Porter — Because the 100th Session is a special occasion, and with the kind permission of our publishers, Aurum Press, we’ve decided to share a slightly edited extract from chapter four of our book Brew Britannia. (And Reuben Gray’s round-up of all the session posts is here.)

Continue reading The Month That Was: June 2015

Beer Writing Clichés: Call for Submissions

Mr Naylor makes a good point, we think, and we thought it might be a good idea to compile a list of beer writing clichés as part of our very occasional series of posts on writing style.

Clichés are units of language that, however clever they seem the first time you hear them, have ceased to seem interesting or even meaningful because of endless repetition. They’re a sort of tic or habit — the opposite of careful writing.

We use clichés all the time, to our shame — The Beer Nut rightly picked us up on ‘wet their whistles‘, for example — but would really like to get out of the habit so this list is a reminder to ourselves as much as anything.

Here are the ones that popped into our heads — feel free to suggest more in the comments below. (But not just words are phrases that might annoy you — ‘real ale’ isn’t a cliché; ‘a foaming pint of ale’ is.)

Continue reading Beer Writing Clichés: Call for Submissions

May 2015: The Month That Was

May was a productive month with quite a few posts, one or two of them on the substantial side.

→ At the May Day celebrations in Padstow, we revelled in a collective act of irresponsible drinking. (Alan McLeod liked this one.)

→ Three more batches of UK-brewed saisons got taste-tested in parts five (Wild Beer), six (Wiper & True, Bad Seed, Otley) and seven (Hop Kettle, By The Horns, Celt) of our ongoing series.

→ We looked at another oddity resulting from the quirks of UK-licensing law: the mid-20th-century London ‘bottle party’ nightclub.

→ We made an effort to visit some of the other pubs in Helston rather than just stick to the familiar Blue Anchor; in comments, several people who definitely don’t work there told us we should have visited the one we missed out.

Continue reading May 2015: The Month That Was