The Month That Was: December 2015

It’s a funny month, December: all parties, panics and listicles. Still, we managed to turn out a few ‘proper posts’ including a 2,500 worder for #BeeryLongreads.

→ The month kicked off with a discussion of ‘drinkability’ that was followed up by Ed Wray, Stan Hieronymus (‘An Anheuser-Busch campaign back in the day that put the word “drinkability” on billboards did not endear the word to those who would protect the world from bland beers’) and Allan P. Maclean (‘London Pride fits the bill precisely, although there are — and have been — others’).

Various covers for 'The Pub Crawler'.

→ Bailey reviewed The Pub Crawler, a 1950s crime novel set in and around the pubs of a fictional northern city.

→ We wondered which British beers we might drink to get an idea of why certain American brews (e.g. Heady Topper) get people so excited.

→ Our contribution to the Session was a bit limp — what is there left to say about Christmas beer? — but we an argument did eventually emerge: Christmas beer doesn’t even really exist these days. (Jay Brooks rounded up all the contributions to Session #106 here.)

→ We found a fascinating account of the gay pubs of London between the wars in F.D. Ommanney’s 1966 memoir The River Bank. (We’ve been told that there’s much more on this subject in Chapter 3 of Matt Houlbrook’s Queer London.)

Detail from the cover of Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Pubs: two people outside an old inn.

→ Digesting John Camp’s 1965 guide book Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Pubs we found some interesting nuggets not least the tale of Lucifer the alcoholic donkey.

→ We were surprised at how much we enjoyed Jenning’s Sneck Lifter. (It turns out to have lots of of other fans, so it’s not just us being weird.)

→ Our Golden Pints included the Penzance Brewing Company, St Austell and BrewDog; while our Top Beer Tweets of 2015 featured tombstones, gueuze shoes, craft beer erotica and various other such oddities.

→ The fifth and final batch of bottled milds gave us a final list of eight contenders. We didn’t get round to the taste-off before Christmas (hangovers, mince pie comas, etc.) so will do it ASAP in the New Year.

→ Another book dissection: London Night and Day, published in 1951, included a section advising those visiting the Festival of Britain where and how to drink in the capital.

Questions & Answers -- 1906 magazine header graphic.

Is there something beer- or pub-related you’d like us to research on your behalf? We’ve had a handful of good questions by email which should keep us busy in January and February but do keep them coming.

→ Peter Elvin runs the Penzance Brewing Company from the yard of the Star Inn at Crowlas, Cornwall. He’s not the kind of bloke who normally gets interviewed, so… we interviewed him, and wrote it up in a long piece called ‘The Quiet One’.

→ The Camden kerfuffle just before Christmas prompted two posts from us: a quick piece on why it’s only human for those who had personally invested in the brewery to feel hurt by its sale to AB-InBev; and a second, longer piece on what it might feel like to sell a company you’ve built up from scratch.

Illustration: Stout with Christmas holly.

→ And, finally, our etiquette correspondent R.M. Banks provided a few words on the importance of attendance at your local pub if it happens to be open.

Tomorrow, we’re going to do some kind of round-up of the highlights of our output in 2015 and then, the day after, something looking forward to 2016. After that, things should get back to normal.