Everything We Wrote in October 2017: Painted Pubs, Plum Porter, Poetry

Header: beer tanks at Zero Degrees.

We didn’t manage quite so many posts this month as in September but that’s partly because we spent quite a bit of what is usually blogging time, before breakfast and after work, writing articles for (ker-ching) cash money.

We started the month off with a guest post on another blog, Municipal Dreams, about estate pubs:

The lack of pubs on estates in the first part of the 20th century was often a direct result of the temperance instinct: pubs were of the slum and if people were to be rescued from that environment and culture, the drier the sanctuary the better. That debate continued in the period after World War II with serious consideration given to nationalising any pubs to be built in new towns and a determined lobby that thought building any pubs at all was on par with providing, say, council-sponsored opium dens.


Our second post of the month about what The Local actually means in relation to pubs generated a huge amount of discussion on Twitter (1 | 2) — or, rather, intensified a discussion that was already underway.

Continue reading “Everything We Wrote in October 2017: Painted Pubs, Plum Porter, Poetry”

Everything We Wrote in September 2017: Listicles, GBBF, Post-War Pubs

September 2017: Pelican style photo illustration of a pub.

The last month was one of our busiest for some time with house moving issues and book business settling down to manageable levels.

In fact, we posted 23 times here and 11 times on our (mostly) subscriber-only Patreon feed, along with a ton of bits and pieces on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Proper pub with an accent on cider. #pubs

A post shared by Boak & Bailey (@boakandbailey) on

Two of our posts here were among the most read and commented on for a while, too, so we’ll give those a bit of special attention first.

The Great British Beer Festival

Having ruminated for a month we finally expressed some ideas about ways to improve GBBF. Our pre-emptive whining about how hard it is to discuss CAMRA and GBBF without people getting narky seems to have worked and a generally civil, stimulating conversation ensued. There was also quite a bit of chat on Twitter, across various Facebook groups and pages, on the Hopinions (Beer O’Clock Show) podcast, and behind the closed doors of the CAMRA discussion forum.

Illustration: SEVEN.
Seven Ages of Beer Geek

We think this attempt to break down the trajectory of a typical beer geek’s obsession was a bit more than just a listicle but there’s no denying the ‘click appeal’ of a post in the format ‘X types of Y’: it got something like three times as much traffic as anything else we wrote in September or, indeed, for months. It also prompted some substantial responses from other bloggers.

Jeff Alworth didn’t agree with our conclusions (‘The stages are conceptually familiar, but not emotionally so’) but, actually, we think he misunderstood our point, i.e. that if you go deeper than stage one, two or three, this is where it might lead, rather than that everyone will always end up at seven, or that they will always pass through every stop on the way. But his own reflections on the subject are as thoughtful as ever and worth a read.

Ed thought we’d missed something: that loving something often means hating something else, and ‘the most hated enemy can well be someone that to outsiders seems politically close’.

Uffe Karlström (new to us) effectively translated the post into (we think) Swedish adding some commentary of his own along the way, which we discovered via a pingback and were able to read via Google Translate — ain’t 2017 amazing? ‘Since spring 2005 I have terrorized brewers, salesmen, owners, distributors, etc. with questions, questions and more questions’, he says.

J. Wilson was moved out of blogging semi-retirement to write about how he has grown to appreciate ordinary bars and mainstream beer: ‘These days I’m a seven… There were no fives in sight.’

Continue reading “Everything We Wrote in September 2017: Listicles, GBBF, Post-War Pubs”

Everything We Wrote in August 2017: Lager Louts, Vapeman, Backstreet Boozers

August 2017 -- psychedelic poster design

That was a pretty decent month with lots of new stuff covering all the angles from history to tasting notes via the usual navel-gazing.

We missed a few days here and there because, e.g., we were in London for GBBF, but even then we kept up a flow of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram posts.

If you think this lot, along with quite a few Patreon exclusive blog posts, is worth a couple of quid a month do consider subscribing.

Continue reading “Everything We Wrote in August 2017: Lager Louts, Vapeman, Backstreet Boozers”

Everything We Wrote in July 2017: Bristol, Wetherspoons, Music

A game of cards in a pub: 'July 2017'.

It’s a relatively sparse round-up this month what with moving house in the middle so we’ll use the spare space to include a bit more from social media.

We started the month with a brief account of a conversation between bar staff about dreams and nightmares: ‘She wakes her partner up in the middle of the night shouting out loud, “Who’s next then, please?”’


We were prompted by Chris Clough to think a bit about Old School IPA and what it means to us:

What makes an IPA Old School in our view is and emphasis on hop bitterness as well as, and perhaps more than, aroma/flavour; a preference for English hop varieties; mellow orange character rather than pine or grapefruit; and a certain stoical pintability, despite relatively high ABVs by late 20th century cask ale standards.


Having planned to give it a miss we suddenly felt inspired to take part in Mark Lindner’s Session #125 on the topic of Single Malt and Single Hop (SMaSH) beers. (You can read his round-up of all the contributions here.)


Cranes on the waterside in Bristol.

We gave our first tentative, deliberately vague field report from our new neighbourhood in Bristol. A couple of weeks on we can report that the micropub is currently where we find ourselves drawn most often, on which more later, but we’ve also tried a few more local pubs and found them decent in different ways, too.


Young people might not be going to Proper Pubs but we can’t help but notice they seem to love Wetherspoon’s:

The younger drinkers we’ve noticed are often on hot chocolate, frothy coffee or pounding cans of energy drink. A typical party, sat near us about a fortnight ago, between them had one pint of bitter, two of lager, a can of Monster, and a pint of Coke. They were all eating, too, treating it almost like a diner.

(Phil Edwards contributed some field observations of his own from Manchester, as did Tandleman.)


If you think your region is being overlooked as a beer destination (i.e. not written about by the Usual Suspects) the answer is simple, we reckon: write about it yourself. The comments on this ended up focusing on Birmingham and the West Midlands even though we tried to keep it general, but they’re interesting nonetheless.


How do pubs smell? That’s something we were prompted to think about by the tenth anniversary of the institution of the ban on smoking in pubs, the debate around which often ends up wallowing in foul aromas of one kind or another.


Fuller's vinyl-record beer mat, 1956.
This is by far our favourite — Fuller’s jumping on the pop music bandwagon in 1956. Needs to be resurrected!

Here’s a real labour of love: we made a Spotify playlist to accompany our new book, 20th Century Pub. Give it a listen, or at least a skim — some of the tracks are really interesting in their own right.


Wetherspoon’s pubs now have an app you can use to order food and drink from your seat. Boak gave it a spin with a specific thought in mind: how well does it work for beer geeks? TL;DR? Not very.

(The Pub Curmudgeon referenced this post in a piece on queuing at Spoons.)


There were also five weekly round-ups of links and news:


Screenshot from Patreon

We posted a few Patron-only things on our Patreon feed — behind the scenes notes mostly, including stuff on how our book cover got designed and some thoughts on the upcoming British Guild of Beer Writers awards.

We’re approaching our (fairly modest) second target of $100 a month, by the way — thanks, everyone!


Our newsletter was a little more curt than usual because we typed it on a smartphone in a packed-up house with no chairs to sit on but what we did write seemed to get people talking:

In the wake of our Michael Jackson article for Beer Advocate, and reflecting on the blogosphere with our weekly news round-ups in mind, we reached a conclusion: free beer and hospitality don’t guarantee positive coverage but, when you’re just starting out as a writer or blogger, they aren’t half flattering…

If you’re interested in c.1,300 words of this kind of stuff every month sign up!


On Facebook there’s been some of this sort of thing…

…while on Twitter, it’s been more like this:

And we’re still persevering with Instagram even if we’re finding it faintly baffling — why can’t we just see what people we follow post in chronological order? Grr.

The correct colours for a pub: beer below, nicotine above.

A post shared by Boak & Bailey (@boakandbailey) on

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”