Status Update and a Couple of Links

Mittwoch Ruhetag

You might have noticed we’ve been quiet so far this week, and we’re going to keep being quiet for a few days yet.

We’re working to the final deadline on The Big Project and so all the mental energy and typing capacity we’ve got left after day jobs is going into that.

As we hit the final stretch, now’s your last chance to share memories of prefabs, estate pubs, theme pubs, real ale pubs of the 1970s, Irish pubs, Wetherspoon’s in Manchester in 1995, or 1990s gastropubs.

Please do — we need everything we can get!

There won’t be a News, Nuggets & Longreads post this Saturday but here are a couple of things you might want to check out:

1. Running Past uses a ghost sign on the side of a building in Hither Green as a way into the history of a long-gone brewery. (Via @untilnextyear.)

2. The BBC’s Seoul correspondent Stephen Evans has been tasting North Korean beer and pondering the difference between the fortress nation and South Korea‘I went to a crowded bar in Pyongyang, which was magnificent in its roughness. It was crowded with men mostly, chucking it back from rough pots like jam jars which, I remember, had chipped edges that gave a sensual, rough texture on the lips as the cold beer passed. The men stood in circles, the best way to drink beer.’

3. And finally, there’s this, which we haven’t got time to be distracted by right now, but which certainly provokes enough thoughts for a week of blog posts:

4. If you want more reading check out Stan Hieronymus’s Monday round-up and Jordan’s Friday history links.

The Month That Was, August 2016: Boddies, Spoons, Grape Beer

We spent a week away in August but still managed a decent number of posts, from cultural pondering to tasting notes, via the archives.

We started the month by sharing a recipe for a home-brew clone of Boddington’s Bitter in its prime put together by Tony Leach. That post surfaced a very interesting bit of intel we’d otherwise have missed:

We shared a 1904 courtroom debate about beer with a ‘twang’ — a word that puzzled the judge. As Gary Gillman pointed out in the comments, they could perhaps have called the writer Thomas Hardy as an expert witness.

Crowds at the festival.
Covent Garden in 1975. Pictures by and © David Davies.

Before we went off to London for a week we unleashed a 2,500 word beast — an account of CAMRA’s Covent Garden Beer Exhibition, 1975, in the words of those who were there:

There were a lot of IRA bomb scares at the time. We were using an office just up the road – there were no mobile phones in those days so we had to have an office with a phone – and, one evening, when we were locking up, we left a briefcase in the street. The alarm went up and the police cordoned off the whole area.

Continue reading “The Month That Was, August 2016: Boddies, Spoons, Grape Beer”

News, Nuggets & Longreads Tipline

Psst! Whispering men.

We’ve been putting together regular weekly round-ups of links since January 2014 having done a one-off in November 2013 to prove the point that blogging was alive and well.

We’ve settled into a routine now — each of us bookmarks things throughout the week; we do a final scan of our Feedly feed, Twitter and the news on Saturday morning; and write it up before breakfast. That’s great in terms of keeping it on track and on time but…

With routine comes a rut and we are aware that we might be leaning on the same sources a bit much, featuring the same names, leaning towards a certain type of content. Of course it’s always going to reflect our preferences and interests but, still, we don’t want to miss essential stuff, and some of the most interesting links in recent months have come from tips sent by readers and fellow bloggers.

So, we just want to make it clear that suggestions for things we ought to read and should consider featuring here are always welcome.

We’re especially interested in articles and blog posts from beyond the beer world that we might not stumble across ourselves — pieces written by historians, scientists, cultural critics, local journalists, comedians and columnists who might only mention beer or pubs once a year but, when they do, do it well.

Local intelligence — interesting new bars, pubs and breweries — and even straight-up gossip are also interesting and useful.

Just Tweet or direct message us @boakandbailey or send us an email:

News, Nuggets & Longreads 27 August 2016: Lithuania, Brett, Criticism

Here’s everything on beer and pubs that’s stimulated our brain-boxes in the last seven days, from Lithuanian beer queens to naughty hats.

Aldona Udriene surveys a fermenting vessel.
SOURCE: Lars Marius Garshol.

Lars Marius Garshol (@larsga) met ‘the queen of Lithuanian beer’, Aldona Udriene:

Her father and grandfather both made the malts themselves. They would soak the barley in water, then take it up and leave it to sprout in the sacks so it would remain wet. The shoots and rootlets would be removed by rubbing between the hands (just like at Storli in Norway). The rubbing was child’s work, and she herself started doing it when she was four years old. Her hands would get sweet and sticky, she says.

For Craft Beer & Brewing Jamie Bogner provided tasting notes on two sets of beers designed to showcase the effects of different strains of Brettanomyces:

In The Bruery’s iteration, B. Lambicus brings the woodsy, hay, and earthy character to the forefront, with slightly lower attenuation and a soft lingering bitterness. Think baked sweet potato with the skin on and a faint dusting of ground black pepper.

German postcard: a man struggles with the choice of beer in Munich.
“He who has choice is tormented.”

Ryan Moses (@moewriter), AKA The Beer Counsellor, has been reading about the purpose and meaning of criticism and considering how that might apply to beer:

The public sees the critic as a utility. The reason people love rating websites is that they point them in a direction.  Critics help cut through all the clutter and noise to find the stuff worth enjoying… There are over 4,000 breweries in the US and if you say they each produce around seven beers each, you are looking at almost 30,000 different beers.  The critic in part should strive to make the average consumer’s life a little bit easier.

London brewery Late Knights is going through some difficulties, closing one of its pubs and ceasing brewing, while the remaining six pubs have been split into two new companies. London Beer Guide (@BeerGuideLondonhas the latest news (quote updated 28/08/2016 15:30):

Each group of three is now under different ownership.  Neither will carry Late Knights branding but both intend to continue to brew, though obviously only one has an actual brewery at present.  We understand that a company called Erimus Brewing/Erimus Pubs and Bars now owns the first group of pubs, and that a company called Southey Brewing owns the second group, but this is yet to be confirmed.

Illustration: Kolsch glass.

A study carried out in Germany (quite a small one which to us has the whiff of PR about it) suggests that blindfolded Rhinelanders can’t really tell the difference between the Kölsch of Cologne and the Altbier of Düsseldorf, despite this being one of the central points of tension in the local rivalry.

The Pilcrow, Manchester’s brand new built-from-scratch pub, is to be run by the people behind the city’s Port Street Beer House and 2016’s ‘It’ brewery Cloudwater. A little surprise, perhaps even amounting to dismay, was expressed at this news on Twitter: The Pilcrow project had presented as community-led and relied to some extent on the work of volunteers learning traditional craft skills (e.g. wood-turning) as they made fixtures and fittings for the pub, and this felt to some bait-and-switch.

For what it’s worth, when we asked about the social/commercial status of the project by email back in February, it was made clear that the intention was always to hand over to a commercial operator and for the pub to make money in the long run, so we don’t think any volunteers can be said to have been hoodwinked.

These are a couple of useful resources you might want to bookmark if you’re planning a weekend city break this autumn:

  1. Evan Rail’s guide to Prague for National Geographic. (via @ATJbeer).
  2. Kev‘s (@BelgianBeerGeek) Google Map of Brussels bars, breweries and beer-friendly restaurants. (Via @Thirsty_Pilgrim)

And, finally, something that definitely cannot be considered breaking news:

The Month That Was: July 2016 — Classic Pubs, New Wave Bitter, The Somme

Here’s everything we wrote in the last month, from classic pubs to coastal chic, in one handy round-up.

We kicked the month off with our contribution to Session #113 on the subject of ‘Mass Observation: The People and the Pub’, hosted by, er, us. Our summary of all the other contributions, some of which are really excellent, is here.

Close up on the foam of the beer.

Our Magical Mystery Pour adventures continued with more beers chosen for us by The Beer Nut:

  1. Bell’s Two-Hearted Ale
  2. Troubadour Westkust
  3. Troubdadour Magma Triple-Spiked

The First & Last at Sennen, Cornwall, has had a makeover and, though it’s fine, it made us reflect on the tendency for coastal pubs to go for the same identikit bright-and-breezy look when, actually, some of them look better as cosy smugglers’ dens.

Cover of book with illustration by Tim Jaques.

We read How to Run a Pub, a book published in 1969, and highlighted the juiciest bits to save you the trouble:

Your wife and (and yourself) will be exposed to constant temptation from [customers]. Some won’t hesitate to use their persuasions on her. This may begin in what seems the friendliest and most innocent ways such as offering her a lift to do the shopping or taking her out when you are obliged to remain on duty… Some pubs even acquire reputations as graveyards of marriages. One Chelsea pub… was so notorious that it was unkindly dubbed The Cuckold’s Arms… Naturally you can’t watch your wife like a sheepdog, but it would unwise to embark on a career as a publican unless you feel that your marriage is a pretty secure one.

Continue reading “The Month That Was: July 2016 — Classic Pubs, New Wave Bitter, The Somme”