The sparkler was invented and patented in the early 1880s by George Barker. He advertised the device for sale in 1885 and identified himself as from the “Crown Hotel, Ince, near Wigan”.
(As always the mention of a sparkler summons Tandleman to the comments which are worth reading for additional context.)
Dave S, a regular commenter here, lives in Cambridge and has been pondering The Psychogeography of Fenland Mild. As well as some rather lovely prose evoking the landscape of East Anglia he offers this incisive suggestion:
My advice to a brewer wanting to make beer with a ‘sense of place’ is that they should stop worrying about where their ingredients come from and look at where their end product goes to. They should sell locally, and drink locally themselves. They should see what people respond to – what makes sense for their local drinkers, in their surroundings, with their climate – and adapt and evolve to the place where they’re based.
Here’s all the news, opinion and pondering on pubs and beer that’s seized our attention in the last week, from old London pubs to Mishing rice beer.
First up, from Richard Coldwell at Beer Leeds, what we think counts as a scoop: a branch of the Morrison’s supermarket near him has installed a cask ale line in its cafe. Supermarket cafes are one down the rung from Wetherspoon pubs in terms of hipness but are, at the same time, extremely popular, offering competitively priced, unpretentious meals. Adding draught beer to the mix is an interesting if unexpected move. “I wonder how long it will take before a supermarket café gets in the Good Beer Guide?” Richard asks.
Kveik is not a style of beer. It means “yeast” or “traditional farmhouse yeast,” but definitely not a kind of beer. If you want to say “Norwegian farmhouse ale,” without referencing any particular style, then say maltøl. But beware that that’s a bit like saying “English beer.” There are several very different styles.
There’s only one pub in St Albans that still sells McMullen’s beer and that’s the Peahen on Holywell Hill… Over the past several years, the Victorian brewer from Hertford seemed in retreat. As the pubs closed and the brewery had little to do with the public, I expected McMullen to depart the brewing scene and become a hotel or catering chain… [But in] its labyrinthine corridors and out-buildings, McMullen has suddenly come alive again.
Protected from the sea winds and year-round bad weather by perspex and gloss paint, it’s a huge expanse of a pub, and is nearly always mostly empty inside where the darts boards and maroon carpets are. Despite clearly being big enough to host two wedding receptions simultaneously, there are three toilets in the ladies’ bathroom and the last time I was there, none had locks, toilet paper or a cushion for screaming into. I have never seen a single adult in the “pub” part of The Sunset Lounge.
Here’s everything that grabbed our attention in the world of beer and pub writing in the past week, from World’s Fairs to Beer Miles.
First, there’s been a bubbling discussion about sexism in beer for the last month or two, prompted by a series of individual incidents and issues, which Kate Wiles has summarised in this widely-shared article:
Sexist beer labels may not be as prevalent as they used to be – but not a week goes by without an example cropping up on social media. The most recent example of “Deepthroat” beer clearly indicates fellatio on the label. Another, Irishtown Brewing, boasts the tagline “Dublin blonde goes down easy”. These examples are both demeaning and degrading to women. Furthermore, they reinforce the stereotype that beer is a “man’s drink” and that women have no right to it.
Her call is for stronger sanctions against offenders from within the industry itself: “Beers that are demeaning to women should not win awards, receive accreditation or be able to use industry logos.” We’re going to have to ponder that a bit but instinctively think it feels quite reasonable — not government censorship, about which people are understandably squeamish, but a setting out of standards amongst peers.
Gary Gillman continues to mine the archives for interesting titbits. In the last week he has highlighted two especially juicy items:
As campaigners are fond of pointing out, they are community spaces too, public places for talking and meeting, whether informally or for organised activities from sports and games to political meetings. But the idealised view of the inclusive community pub of the past, where everyone was welcome, is not only contradicted by the facts of physical segregation in pubs at least up until World War II, but by the lived experience of anyone who found themselves outside the prescribed normality of the communities that used them… I reached pub-going age in the second half of the 1970s. I wasn’t yet out as a gay man, but I was mildly unconventional and decidedly non-macho. Most pubs in the small Home Counties town where I lived, far from being welcoming and inclusive places, were off-limits to me and anyone like me, on pain of anything from tacit hostility to actual violence… And I was at least white and male.
For the Morning AdvertiserPhil Mellows summarises the rise of the micropub, thankfully avoiding the usual suspects and briefly profiling several Kentish micropubs and their owners:
Ale Caesar occupies part of the former Punch & Judy bar on the site of the recently revived Dreamland fairground, and has been trading as a pop-up over the summer… The licensee is Matt Edmondson, no relation to X Factor presenter of the same name but brother of actor, comedian and musician Ade Edmondson… Fittingly, it’s decked out as a celebration of British comedy and serves three beers on draught from a specially built cool room, plus local cider from the Kent Cider Co.
From Wayne at Irish Beer Snob comes a report of a trip to the French coastal town of La Rochelle, famous for its U-boat pens and, to British and Irish people of a certain age, for its role in the Tricolore language textbooks. We enjoyed the photos accompanying the post and also admired Wayne and Janice’s approach:
The criteria for our trip was that it was not beer focused. You see invariably, we end up planning our trips around bars, breweries and things, this time we literally went in blind. No research, No scoping stuff out on Tripadvisor. Nada.
In the same way that some people love Christmas – I count down the days until IMBC and the closer it gets the more excitable I become… But there’s [a] reason we don’t manage to chat to as many people for as long as we’d like to and that’s because I have a problem with extended social interaction. If it goes on for too long without a break I find myself completely drained of energy. I feel physically and mentally worn out.
Further reading: this piece from Suzy at Lincoln Pub Geek compares the twin experiences of the Beavertown festival and IndyMan, finding the latter calmer and less anxiety-inducing. “Was the rowdiness just something I miss out on by not attending many London events?” she asks, or “Does Beavertown simply attract a different crowd?”
People were surprised, confused, and either delighted or irritated by the video above, which was launched by the US Brewers’ Association earlier this week. The idea is that the BA is crowdfunding to raise money to buy-out AB-InBev – obviously a joke, and quite well executed, insofar as any jokey corporate wannabe viral video is ever anything other than cringeworthy. There were lots of opinion pieces and takes on Twitter but our favourite was this from Jeff Alworth who asked the BA’s Julia Herz… what were you thinking?
The idea, then, is for people to take the campaign seriously, if not literally. Having had a day to reflect on it, though, I wondered what the endgame was. What if they make their goal? What if they don’t? “We’re eternal optimists, so we’re going to keep trying. But if everybody on the planet gave ten dollars, we’d still only be a third of the way there.” When I pressed her about whether they would actually try to buy ABI she gave me a coy response: “Wouldn’t it be a fun plot twist if we actually got to our goal?”
Not much reading in this one but have a look anyway: filmmaker Abbie Lucas and journalist Paul Fleckner have spent the last seven years photographing the pub dogs of Britain for a new book, Great British Pub Dogs, and the Guardian has a gallery by way of a taster.
(Disclosure: we don’t particularly like dogs, or cats for that matter. Sorry.)
And, finally, from Will Hawkes comes news of an interesting development in London: