The Month That Was: November 2016

November 2016 (text over picture of pub ceiling).

November was a moderately productive month with a smattering of posts that we reckon stood out as a bit better than usual, plus all the side orders dished up on Facebook and Twitter. (Do give us a like/follow.)

A quick side note: December being the month of lists, round-ups and predictions, we’re going to be putting together a Golden Pints piece as usual but, this time, it’s going in our email newsletter rather than on the blog. Sign up if you’re interested in knowing which was our favourite crown cap design (UK) and to find out who gets the award for best use of grapefruit juice. But now, back to business.


We started the month, like almost everyone else, by having opinions about Anthony Bourdain’s opinions about beer: ‘STOP TELLING PEOPLE THE BEER THEY ARE DRINKING IS THE WRONG BEER UNLESS THEY SPECIFICALLY ASK YOU FOR ADVICE!’

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The Month That Was: October 2016

Here’s everything we wrote in the last month, from pondering on unfined beer to deathtrap breweries.

We started off with an attempt to decipher what the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) was trying to achieve by including an essay on unfined beer in the latest edition of the Good Beer Guide:

The real point was intended to be, we think, that (a) CAMRA knows about this stuff on the outer fringes of ‘craft beer’; (b) it acknowledges that good beer can be made this made way; and (c) it is watching with keen interest and an open attitude.


People used to enjoy spitting in pubs, and the pubs were fine with it. The young barmaids charged with cleaning up after them? Not so much.


Interior of 1960s pub with colour palette at bottom.

Tandleman shared some glorious images of 1960s pub makeovers which prompted us to conjur up some colour swatches — what colour should a pub be?


We kicked off a new round of Magical Mystery Pour with beers chosen by David ‘Broadford Brewer’ Bishop. The first post this month was about Magic Rock Inhaler and Rooster’s Fort Smith; the second was Durham Brewery Bombay 106:

A couple of years ago Durham Brewery was all the rage thanks in part, it seemed to us, to a certain generosity with samples for bloggers, Tweeters and raters. We had a few of their beers here and there and found that they ranged from decent (White Stout) to shoddy. So we were pleased at the opportunity to give them another go although our hopes weren’t high.

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News, Nuggets & Longreads 22 October 2016: Pricing, Helles and Choo-Choos

Here’s everything in the world of beer and pubs that’s grabbed us in the last week, from pricing politics to, er, the politics of pricing.

First, there have been a couple of bits of properly newsy news:

A man astride a horse in the public bar of a pub.
Amrick Singh Saini at The Four Ways, Rowley Regis. Image by Jagdish Patel. SOURCE: Creative Black Country.

And now for some fun. First, Black Country pub advocate The Wench (@BlackCountryPubreflects on a project recording the region’s ‘Desi pubs’ in a post written partly — brilliantly — in dialect:

Yow dow av to go deep, or far, for Desi in the Black Country. No, not at all. Yow only av to scratch the surface to find one of the many delightful Desi pubs that are scattered, like precious Punjabi jewels, across ower industrial heartland… Precious indeed they are, for often – under the clever custodianship of Asian landlords – they have been injected with new life and saved from that fate worse than death: decline, abandonment and redevelopment (usually as something unhelpful, like yet another supermarket).

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100 Words: Fine is Fine

Ah, So Very British™ — saying things are Fine when you really mean they’re awful.

Except that’s not what we mean.

When we say Fine, we mean Fine — that is, adequate, the mildest form of Good.

Fine-not-fine scale with 'fine' on the positive side.

And you know what? We drink a fair bit of beer that isn’t Fine. It’s not Awful or Dreadful — it’s just, like most stuff, floating around in the middle, stirring little beyond a shrug, an appreciative nod or a momentary frown.

We like to keep something back for the gold medal beers, and for the absolute stinkers.

The rest of the time, Fine is OK.

Rating Sites, Hype & the Real Influencers

Good King Henry Special Reserve (bottle).

If you want to get your brand name on the radar don’t send samples to bloggers, send them to RateBeerians.

That’s the conclusion we reached after researching this story on the weird prominence of Good King Henry Special Reserve, the only British beer in the RateBeer top 50, for All About Beer:

The flurry of high rankings that followed that summer gathering—most awarding 18, 19 or 20 out of 20 and accompanied by profuse thanks to ‘Chris_O’—put the beer into the Top 50 chart. That might have been a blip except those events brought it to the attention of Edinburgh beer lover Craig Garvie. He is an enthusiastic character often to be seen at beer festival in a colourful bowler hat, steampunk shades and with his beard dyed one shade or another. A particular fan of strong stouts, he knew he had to get his hands on GKHSR.

We were prompted to research and write that piece because we, despite paying fairly close attention to British beer, had never heard of Old Chimney’s brewery or come across any of their beers on sale anywhere, ever.

On a related note, we were pondering writing something longer in response to this Tweet…

…to which our initial response was, yes, marketing is important, but word-of-mouth about great beer is the best marketing you can get.

But the GKHSR story demonstrates very clearly that you don’t need fancy graphic design, expensive advertising or squads of PR people to make a splash.