Beer history Generalisations about beer culture

Dregs from the Drip Tray

Detail from the cover of Beers of Britain (1975).
Detail from the cover of Beers of Britain (1975).

Here are a few odds and ends which didn’t warrant a post of their own.

  • We’ve updated this post on the Pub Users’ Protection Society with new (old) information from a 1979 edition of CAMRA’s What’s Brewing, including a picture of their famous ‘beerometer’.
  • On a similar note, we’ve stumbled across information on a couple more pre-CAMRA beer clubsDerby’s Black Pig Society (c.1959) and The Honourable Order of Bass Drinkers (1967). Simon Johnson, who tipped us off to the latter, was surprised to know we hadn’t heard of both of them; if you know of any similar clubs or societies, assume we’re ignorant, and let us know. We love this kind of stuff.
  • The late Michael Jackson continues to give useful advice. Reading the almost hidden preface to his The English Pub (1976) we came across mention of yet another lost pub guide, a copy of which is now on its way to us. Beers of Britain by Conal Gregory and Warren Knock, Jackson says, is a ‘broader guide’ than the GBG. We’ll let you know if there are any nice nuggets.
  • This article from last year by Leigh ‘Good Stuff’ Linley is a cracker. It’s an interview with the founders of North Bar in Leeds marking its fifteenth anniversary, and there are some great reminders that not everyone likes the same thing, e.g. pubs: ‘You’d get the bus from Headingley straight to a club. There was nowhere in between to have a beer, except Pubs.’
  • We keep finding useful ideas in Nairn’s London, and his warning about the ‘dreary finger of good taste‘ struck home. Balance and class are great and everything, but it’s good to have the occasional King Ralph of a beer to keep things lively.
  • Stanley Unwin made an advert for Flowers Keg Bitter in 1959 (‘For the best picket in a brew flade, pick Flowers!) which we’d love to see. It’s not on YouTube as far as we can tell. Any other ideas that don’t involve a trip to London and a private screening at the BFI?
  • A frustrated question: at what point do publicans stop saying ‘there’s no demand for it’ and accept that the fact we’ve asked might indicate that there is hidden demand?
  • Here’s a permanent home for our generic beer infographic.
  • And, finally, why we’re in favour of two-third-of-a-pint glasses: we get out of sync when we’re drinking together, prompting all kinds of up-and-down to the bar to fetch halves, or forcing us to wait for each other. If Boak could drink two-thirds while Bailey drank pints, we reckon that’d be us back in step.

10 replies on “Dregs from the Drip Tray”

It has to be said that two-thirds measures, although I think there’s much to be said for them, have completely failed to take off outside a handful of specialist pubs. To my mind, there are times when a half doesn’t seem like a proper drink, but a pint is too much.

It’s not a bad little book, full of breweries long consigned to the graveyard, some rightly so if old drinkers’ tales are to be believed.

Yes, I’d also assumed you’d heard of HOBS. Quite a big outfit in their time. I caught them on the downslide but you’d still get reasonable numbers turning out. We used to meet in the upstairs of the Unicorn in Manchester on the first Monday of the month. You’d pay £10 as I recall and then drink into the wee small hours.

“If Boak could drink two-thirds while Bailey drank pints, we reckon that’d be us back in step.”

Funnily enough, I always had it as the other way round.

Wahaay !

Cor. People used to assume we didn’t know anything; now they assume we know everything. Not sure which is better.

Very glad you’ve shown part of the cover of Beers of Britain. That is an important post WW II pre-Jacksonian text, ranking with Richard Boston’s book and, earlier, the 1950’s book from Andrew Campbell, A Book of Beer. I always wondered what happened to the duo who wrote Beers of Britain, I believe one later became a MP and financial journalist. This book describes in detail but with an admirable clipped restraint, the beers available in English pubs in the early 70’s. CAMRA had started by 1975 but the spirit of the book is pre-CAMRA. The authors carefully describe the different types of dispense current at the time and do not dismiss out of hand top-pressure systems but state that often in practice too much gas gets into the beer. When they ran into a good keg beer, they mentioned it, but it wasn’t often.

I wonder what they and the Black Pig people would think of American-style keg, by which I mean, all-malt, unpasteurized beer using generous amounts of hops, not necessarily American hops but just lots of them. This style is eons away from what was presented as keg to drinkers in the 60’s and 70’s. In my view, the latter paled in comparison due to (usually) being pasteurized, chilled, rarely all-malt and not hopped enough.


Our copy arrived this morning. At first glance, it does seem rather dry in tone compared to Green & White’s London pub guides, and certainly more so than Richard Boston. Still, looking forward to digesting it.

Certainly drier in tone than those others, but valuable IMO due to the broad range of contemporary English breweries canvassed. Their style classification is a simple but effective one and still largely accurate I believe. They seem to have focused more on a “good” pint or traditional pint than the best one available, which goes to your point I think about the inflation of beer experience since their time. Their goal was at once more modest and closer to the pub ethos than we seek today.


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