Killing time between meals, relatives, TV events, church services or whatever, here you are scrolling about on your phone or tablet looking for something to read. Well, thanks to the magic of scheduled posts, we’ve got you covered.
Posts of Christmas Past
Here are a few things from the archives to suit the season.
The sound of cans being popped, the toffee-brown contents poured into glasses with slogans on them. Orange cans, crumpled, sitting in the bin. Stones Bitter. Tetley’s. These are the beers my dad drinks. These are the beers my uncle drinks. Sitting on their laps, watching Morecambe and Wise and Only Fools and Horses. Little hands reaching up – a little sip for us won’t hurt! After all, it’s Christmas – The best day of the year!
→ Christmas beers are common and varied these days but, back in the mid-1990s, Michael ‘The Beer Hunter’ Jackson wrote a couple of pieces recording the growth of this niche: here’s his 1992 article about Fuller’s ESB and other ‘winter warmers’; and a 1996 piece focusing on King & Barnes that also rounds up Christmas ales from other brewers.
→ And, finally, here’s a poem from John Marston (1576-1634) that evokes the tastes of the bleak midwinter:
The nut-brown ale, the nut-brown ale,
Puts downe all drinke when it is stale,
The toast, the nut-meg, and the ginger,
Will make a sighing man a singer.
Ale gives a buffet in the head,
But ginger under proppes the brayne;
When ale would strike a strong man dead,
Then nut-megge tempers it againe,
The nut-brown ale, the nut-brown ale,
Puts downe all drinke when it is stale.
Posts of Christmas Present
AB-InBev has acquired London’s Camden Town Brewery. This should not have surprised anyone who read Oscar Williams-Grut’s scoop back in June. The story has very rightly generated lots of commentary — this is only either the second or third time something like this has happened in the UK, depending on how you cut it, and possibly points to how the next 20 to 30 years in British beer might pan out.
- Pete Brissenden has worked for both Meantime and Camden and so has a particularly interesting perspective: ‘Don’t tell me you haven’t ever eaten at Pizza Express, Byron, or, in fact any chain restaurant… because you have, unless of course you are Swampy.’
- Matt Curtis and Mark Dredge are both self-confessed fans of Camden, which is or has been their local brewery and favourite hangout, so the news is somewhat personal for them. Matt’s take, ‘Let Down & Hanging Around’, is here; Mark’s is here.
- Socialist historian, habitual epistolarian and trade union officer Keith Flett has mixed feelings and, perhaps surprisingly, he points out that it might be good news for employees, if not, perhaps, for drinkers.
- And, finally, thoughtful takes from industry journalist Jessica Mason and beer retailer and writer Zak Avery. In his piece, Zak says:
So my prediction is that breweries aren’t being bought up to be dumbed down, run down and closed down, but are genuinely being bought to grow and produce flavourful craft beer on an industrial scale. Sure, there will be a monopoly created as Big Craft takes up more of the available bar space, and swallows up all the hops that little craft needs. But Big Craft is storming the barricades and launching a counter-attack on the revolution.
Posts of Christmas Yet to Come
→ The first ‘predictions for 2016’ think-pieces have started to roll in. Dan Fox at Drinks Business reckons, among other things, that we’ll see a rise in the popularity of beers with seedy dive bar cool — ‘the first whiff of a craft-beer counter trend?’ (In the UK, this might translate to hip young things drinking John Smith’s Smooth to capture that coveted ‘rough pub’ vibe.)
→ The US Brewers’ Association’s Julia Herz has a few interesting suggestions for what 2016 might hold including ‘beer festival fatigue’: ‘People will grow tired of uninformed volunteers pouring samples, and gravitate towards festivals where the brewers pour the beer.’
→ Alan ‘A Good Beer Blog’ McLeod has provided a sheet with the top 50 US breweries according to sales volume so you can (a) avoid those already bought out by big beer and (b) tick off those that fall in the next year. (It is kind of a joke, we think, or is it?)