News, Nuggets & Longreads 16 July 2016: Root Beer, Lisbon, Pub Habits

Here’s all the beer- and pub-related writing from the past seven days that’s tickled our fancy or piqued our interest, from a hard look at hard root beer to the meaning of the pub.

Canadian beer writer Jordan St. John wanted to write tasting notes on hard (i.e. alcoholic) root beer but noticed that lots of other beer folk seemed to be struggling with the same task because they lacked the frame of reference for describing the flavours. So, before he got to the boozy variant, he got to know the soft stuff:

The last time I had one of these was when I got a Papa Burger at the Eglinton Station food court and at the time it seemed watery and may be in fountain service. There is a vaguely barky presence on the finish, a marshmallowy aftertaste here and an herbal kind of presence on the burp. I would describe the flavour as sweet, but balanced and relatively mild. It’s sort of a weird idea. What do you want with your drive in burger? A vanilla, mint and root bark soda, please, and throw a marshmallow at it.

(Related: Next time you have a Coca Cola look out for the lime note — hard to miss once you know it’s there.)


Duque craft beer in the sun.
SOURCE: Rebecca Pate.

London-based beer blogger Rebecca Pate has been to Lisbon where she observed the signs of a nascent craft beer scene:

Up until 2014, it was nearly impossible to source craft beer in Portugal. The first taproom and bottle shop to open its doors was Cerveteca Lisboa in Lisbon and the city’s first microbrewery, Duque Brewpub, opened in February this year. Duque boasts 10 taps where Portuguese breweries are represented- including offerings from their on-site microbrewery, Cerveja Aroeira, and an expansive selection of bottles.  

(See also: Craftonia.) Continue reading “News, Nuggets & Longreads 16 July 2016: Root Beer, Lisbon, Pub Habits”

Impressions of Birmingham Pubs

We had a less than satisfactory time on the second part of our recent sort-of-holiday, which we spent in Birmingham (of which more in our monthly newsletter), but there was plenty of fun to be had down the pub.

We had a hit list of places we wanted to visit, either because we’d heard they were good, or because they were of historic or architectural interest. That’s just as well because — generalisation alert — it’s not the kind of city where playing it by ear works especially well. It seemed to us that the city centre is largely the domain of chains. Largely but not entirely, of course: The Wellington and The Post Office Vaults, both five minutes walk from New Street Station, between them have more than enough beer to keep the snootiest of drinkers happy for a weekend. We did also pop into Purity’s craft beer bar, Purecraft, and didn’t take to it — it was like drinking in Pizza Express — but we’d had a long day and others seem to like it.

To get to the rest of the interesting stuff, though, you have to brave the ring road (we spent what felt like hours waiting at traffic lights or wandering in subways) after which you find yourself very quickly in the kind of post-industrial streetscapes which can feel a bit ‘sketchy’ to an outsider.

Tower blocks, Birmingham.Local favourite The Craven Arms, for example, is only just beyond the very centre of the city, but it’s not a pub a visitor would ever stumble upon, being up a side street, past a concrete car park, what looks like a half-collapsed estate pub, some wasteland, and those beauties above. But it’s not actually dodgy, as far as we can tell, and the leap of faith is totally worth it for the sight of this gorgeous exterior against the grey:

The exterior of the Craven Arms.

Continue reading “Impressions of Birmingham Pubs”

News, Nuggets & Longreads 28 May 2016: Ancient Beer, DIY Pubs, Panhead

Here’s all the beer-related reading of note from the last week, from Birmingham pubs to New Zealand brewery takeovers, via ancient Chinese home brew kit.

First up, Bob and Dave at the Midlands Beer Blog Collective have produced a long profile of one of the city’s primary beer destinations, The Craven Arms, in which publican Chris Sherratt talks about the various aspects of running a specialist pub:

I drink my own product, so I want it to be good.  I just enjoy it, and want to aspire to have something that’s worth drinking. It’s not rocket science, so it still puzzles me as to why places can’t get it right.  They’re not difficult to look after, it’s the basics – keep your lines clean!  I know a lot of people blame the brewers or the beer, when it so often isn’t the brewers’ fault if the beer is bad – there’s more to it than that and how it’s kept is so important.

Continue reading “News, Nuggets & Longreads 28 May 2016: Ancient Beer, DIY Pubs, Panhead”

News, Nuggets & Longreads 19 March 2016

Here’s the best of what we’ve read about beer and pubs around the internet in the last week, from London to Lisbon.

→ Des de Moor has published a free update to his book The CAMRA Guide to London’s Best Beer, Pubs and Bars accompanied by some state-of-the-nation commentary on London’s beer scene:

London breweries continue to expand whatever their size, with Moncada and Redemption among those in the midst of long-needed upgrades. The startup rate has definitely slowed, though, and the brewery total in my latest update is down to 75 from 78 last July: a handful of closures include the last remnant of the 1970s Big Seven in London at the Stag, Mortlake, and a number of would-be brewpubs that evidently found it easier to sell other people’s beer.

→ For the Midlands Beer Blog Collective Bob Maxfield and Dave Hopkins interviewed the people behind Birmingham’s craft beer and pinball bar, Tilt, eliciting a great case study of what’s been going on in British beer in the last decade or so:

I fell out of love with CAMRA when, some years later, while following a Ramstein tour, we decided to visit the Brewdog Bars we had been reading about. I then found Stirchley Wines who did a half decent selection at the time and had a bit of Great Divide and some Mikeller. They had all the Brewdog stuff and it was at that point that I started to get really excited, and begun to get more involved with Beer Advocate again, and started trading beers with others.

Continue reading “News, Nuggets & Longreads 19 March 2016”

Live in the Midlands and Want to Blog?

If you’re a Midlands-based beer enthusiast who wants to write, the Midlands Beer Blog Collective might be the opportunity you’ve been looking for.

A while ago, pondering Londoncentricity in beer blogging and writing, we mentioned that Birmingham was under-served by beer bloggers with several veterans having given up, moved on to other roles in the beer industry, or just slowed their production of content to a trickle.

Now, Bob Maxfield and his colleagues have launched a multi-author blog dedicated to ‘the love of beer across the Midlands and beyond’.

He’s looking for people to write on the blog and says:

We are keen to have different backgrounds and points of view on the site to discuss and promote all that is happening in the beer world in the Midlands. I’m happy for people to blog directly on the site or reblog from their own sites.

In other words, you can host a post on your own blog but also share it via the MBBC or, if you can’t be bothered to set up and host your own blog but have something to get off your chest, or only want to blog once in a while, MBBC will host the content for you.

We don’t imagine you have to actually live in the Midlands, either — it might just be that you’ve got something to say about the region’s beer and pub scene based on a visit or previous experience.

Selfishly, we’re delighted because this means there might be a more steady flow of intelligence on what’s going on in the region, and because we think multi-author sites might well be the saviour of beer blogging, taking the pressure off any one individual to keep coming up with material.

If you want to get involved, drop Bob a line via Twitter or by leaving a comment on the ‘About’ page of the blog.