Everything We Wrote in June 2017: Crackling, Craftification, Clubs

Retro pub illustration: "June 2017".

We didn’t post quite as much this month what with going on holiday and making arrangements to leave Cornwall but there was some good stuff in there.

We started the month with a moan about the 21st century version of ‘Smile, love — it might never happen!’ That is, telling off strangers for looking at their smartphones in the pub. (Phil Cook at Beer Diary includes a passing thought on this here.)

Cask of St Austell 1913 Original Stout

For the 124th edition of the Session we reflected on Late, Lamented Loves:

The first beer that came to mind was local brewery St Austell’s short-lived 1913 stout. Strong by cask ale standards and historically-inspired it unfortunately didn’t sell and slowly morphed into Mena Dhu — still great but a much tamer product. We’d go out of our way for a pint of 1913 which isn’t something we can say of many beers.

Host David Bardallis rounded up all the entries at All The Brews Fit To Print.

The numbered caps of the Hatherwood beer box.

A friend bought us a box set of LIDL’s Hatherwood beers and, ever gracious, we subjected this kind gift to a brutal dissection, concluding that the beers were pretty good but that the presentation amounted to a big fat fib.

Continue reading “Everything We Wrote in June 2017: Crackling, Craftification, Clubs”

Everything We Wrote in May 2017: Wetherspoons, Straw Men and Reg Norkett

May was a busy month with around 20 proper blog posts covering everything from flying saucers to ham rolls.

We started the month with a rare guest post from John Robinson, a North West of England CAMRA veteran who has been digging into what went wrong with Boddington’s Bitter and when. (He is in the process of revising this post based on the feedback in the comments.)

Having raided a bookshop in Truro we came across a mention of a post-war pub called The Flying Saucer in a book on Kent pubs and did a little digging into its history, the origins of its name, and the design of its sign.

Martin's Free House, North London.
SOURCE: The London Drinker online archive.

Someone asked a question that intrigued us: which was the first Wetherspoon pub to get into the CAMRA Good Beer Guide? After several days we tracked it back earlier than expected, to 1983.

Continue reading “Everything We Wrote in May 2017: Wetherspoons, Straw Men and Reg Norkett”

Everything We Wrote in April 2017

Beer, crisps and nuts on a pub table.

It was a fairly lazy month for us with considerably fewer posts than we usually manage although a couple that did go up were proper whoppers.

We started the month with the kind of most you expect on 1 April: have you ever tried putting a pickled egg in your pint? It’s delicious, honest! We don’t always do an April Fool’s Day post but when we do, we of course put far too much effort into it.

Our first proper post of the month was an account of a perfectly ordinary weekend which in itself showed how much things have changed since we moved to Cornwall in 2011 with stylistically adventurous one-off specials from St Austell, micropubs, new breweries, and so on.

Continue reading “Everything We Wrote in April 2017”

Everything We Wrote in March 2017

We managed a fairly steady flow of new stuff in March with perhaps a tilt towards the historical, though there were a few pub trips and beer tasting notes scattered throughout.

Before we get to the blog, here’s a quick flag for something we wrote for All About Beer on ‘The History of the Future of Beer’:

For decades, people were convinced the robot bartender was just around the corner. It’s a staple of science fiction stories from Isaac Asimov to Doctor Who, but this space-age fantasy has occasionally been realized, even if only as a gimmick or statement piece…

Right, back to the blog. Way back on the 1 March we had Bailey’s account of hunting for mild in Manchester, a city which has tons of great pubs and a nostalgic tendency, and so ought to be fertile ground:

We’re not interested in pubs that sometimes have a guest mild, or left-field interpretations of mild. In fact, we’re sceptical of many micro-brewery milds which, through misunderstandings over how the style evolved, are too often really baby stouts. No, what we’re intrigued by is the idea that there are still pockets of the country where you could, if sufficiently perverse, be a Mild Drinker, day in day out, in roughly the same style as your parents or grandparents before you.

Still life: a bottle of Mariana Trench in green light among sea glass, driftwood and shells.

We completed the fourth round of Magical Mystery Pour, tasting beers chosen by Rebecca Pate, with notes on Magic Rock Salty Kiss and Weird Beard Mariana Trench. The latter caused a bit of debate — is it ever fair to write up notes on a beer past its best before date?

Illustration adapted from a vintage bock beer poster.

For Session #121 hosted by Jon at The Brewsite we reflected on Bock and its more-or-less complete absence from UK beer:

To many drinkers — even those with quaite refained palates — lager is lager is lager, and not terribly interesting. And a strong lager with a narrower focus on unsexy malt over hops is an even harder sell in 2017, especially to British drinkers who really do expect fireworks to justify an ABV of more than 5%.

Jon rounded up all the contributions here.

Mild Ale as a classical LP.

That Session post got us thinking about ‘classic styles’ and how often it is the case that, when they are available, it is because of the type of craft brewery people tend to assume does nothing but weird, strong, niche beers:

A few years ago we stuck up for Brodie’s of Leyton, East London, who were accused of brewing ‘silly beers’. They did, and do, brew sour beers with fruit and a whole range of hop-heavy pale ales but they also did something that no-one had done in the London Borough of Waltham Forest for about 40 years by our reckoning: they made a standard cask-conditioned dark mild.

Continue reading “Everything We Wrote in March 2017”

Everything We Wrote in February 2017

A bar counter with hand pumps: The Month That Was February 2017

We missed a few days in February because of the pressures of real life — family, flu, work — but still managed to knock out a few decent posts from beer reviews to Belgian bars.

We warmed up for the month by reviewing a bottled beer from Vibrant Forest, the stars of last year’s Great British Beer Festival for us: ‘Once we’d accepted that there was to be no grapefruit festival as advertised, we enjoyed it for what it was…

Macro image: 'Hops' with illustration of hop cones, 1970s.

More for the record than anything we rounded up responses to a Guardian article suggesting that Brexit might already be stamping on the toes of UK craft brewers and added a few thoughts of our own:

At the root of the Buy British school of thought it seems to us there are a couple of wrongheaded thoughts. First, we think some people believe the popularity of pale, hoppy American-influenced beers threatens the very existence of traditional English bitter — that they are the thin end of a wedge which will inevitably lead to total domination… but who can seriously say they struggle to get a pint of something brown and old-school in Britain in 2017?

Bullseye Brown -- autumnal vintage beer label. (Detail.)

For the 120th edition of The Session (which takes it to ten years, by the way) we let Joe Tindall’s wide-open choice of topic, brown beer, inspire a bit of whimsy:

Some people will tell you brown isn’t a flavour, but it is. It’s why you sear meat, and about 50 per cent of the meaning of toast.  (N.B. black is also a flavour.)

Joe’s round up of all the contributions is here.

Continue reading “Everything We Wrote in February 2017”