A while back, we reported the sad news that one of London’s few specialist beer outlets had closed.
Now it’s back.
The Army and Navy beer and wine shop in House of Fraser on Victoria Street, Westminster, London, reopened about a week ago, on the second floor. It’s a bit smaller than before, but it’s nice to see it back.
The more I think about so-called binge drinking, the more I think it is a result of the Northern European attitude to work — the weekend feels like the only time people can really relax, after slogging through five or six days of boredom, stress and aggravation, and they want it to be something special, memorable and overwhelming.
It’s not a new thing. In the 1958 social realist novel Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, Alan Sillitoe described a Saturday night in Britain like this:
For it was Saturday night, the best and bingiest glad-time of the week, one of the fifty-two holidays in the slow-turning Big Wheel of the year, a violent preamble to a prostrate Sabbath. Piled up passions were exploded on Saturday night, and the effect of a week’s monotonous graft in the factory was swilled out of your system in a burst of goodwill. You followed the motto of ‘be drunk and be happy’, kept your crafty arms around female waists, and felt the beer going beneficially down into the elastic capacity of your guts.
People always talk about the sensible Spanish and French attitude to drinking, but could it have anything to do with the traditional long lunch breaks and 35 hour working weeks in those countries?
Binge drinking is not the problem — it’s a symptom.
This month’s “What’s Brewing” contains the CAMRA financial statements, showing an operating loss of £71K compared to an operating profit of £44K last year. Net current liabilities are also up considerably.
Slightly concerned about the financial position of the organisation, I eventually found some commentary in “Beer”, the other paper that comes out with What’s Brewing. Apparently, the loss is due to not meeting income targets from the Great British Beer Festival. The commentary from the chair, Paula Waters, says that:
…we had to experiment with the amount of beer we bought in in order to judge how much we will require in future…we now know what we need to do to make the event work in 2008 with lower costs and the right amount of beer”
Interesting. I suppose it’s all well and good us members making demands about what the GBBF should contain, but we do need to remember that this is one of the premier sources of income for CAMRA. It’s oviously a fine balance to get enough beers to appeal to the hardened tickers yet not have too much left over at the end.
Personally, I wouldn’t mind a smaller selection, particularly if it was kept better. Let’s face it, even if you sat there from opening day to closing day and had a liver of iron, you’d never get through it all. Other members may disagree.
After last week’s announcement of the increase in beer duty, the price of beer in pubs has already gone up, judging from our sizeable sample of pubs this week.
Perhaps I’ve got something wrong here, but shouldn’t there be a time-lag in between the new duty rates becoming effective and the price going up? As far as I can tell from the HMRC regulations, duty is payable (in most cases) when beer leaves the brewer’s premises, not when it’s served in the pub, so the beer that’s in cellars now was brewed (and paid for) pre-budget.
Same applies to supermarkets – I noticed one supermarket was proudly boasting about having held onto “pre-budget prices” this Easter weeked. So they’re marketing the fact they haven’t pulled the same fast one as everyone else?
Who’s cashing in here, albeit for only a couple of weeks? Is it the pubs, the distributors, or the breweries?
Keith Brainard’s daughter is better at beer tasting than most of us. This video of a recent beer tasting was crashed by his family, with amusing and frankly rather endearing results:
Keith’s blog is one of our favourites — lots of great tips for home brewers, mixed in with a little domestic detail.
For the source of the title of this post, see this Reeves and Mortimer clip which someone has kindly stuck up on Youtube.