News, Nuggets & Longreads 19 March 2016

Tables and chairs at The Star Inn, Crowlas.

Here’s the best of what we’ve read about beer and pubs around the internet in the last week, from London to Lisbon.

→ Des de Moor has pub­lished a free update to his book The CAMRA Guide to Lon­don’s Best Beer, Pubs and Bars accom­pa­nied by some state-of-the-nation com­men­tary on Lon­don’s beer scene:

Lon­don brew­eries con­tin­ue to expand what­ev­er their size, with Mon­ca­da and Redemp­tion among those in the midst of long-need­ed upgrades. The start­up rate has def­i­nite­ly slowed, though, and the brew­ery total in my lat­est update is down to 75 from 78 last July: a hand­ful of clo­sures include the last rem­nant of the 1970s Big Sev­en in Lon­don at the Stag, Mort­lake, and a num­ber of would-be brew­pubs that evi­dent­ly found it eas­i­er to sell oth­er people’s beer.

→ For the Mid­lands Beer Blog Col­lec­tive Bob Max­field and Dave Hop­kins inter­viewed the peo­ple behind Birm­ing­ham’s craft beer and pin­ball bar, Tilt, elic­it­ing a great case study of what’s been going on in British beer in the last decade or so:

I fell out of love with CAMRA when, some years lat­er, while fol­low­ing a Ram­stein tour, we decid­ed to vis­it the Brew­dog Bars we had been read­ing about. I then found Stirch­ley Wines who did a half decent selec­tion at the time and had a bit of Great Divide and some Mikeller. They had all the Brew­dog stuff and it was at that point that I start­ed to get real­ly excit­ed, and begun to get more involved with Beer Advo­cate again, and start­ed trad­ing beers with oth­ers.

Cigar City Brewing logo.
SOURCE: Cig­ar City Brew­ing web­site.

→ Takeover news #1: US brew­ery Cig­ar City, long-rumoured to a tar­get for takeover by one of the mul­ti-nation­als, ‘has agreed to sell con­trol­ling inter­est to Boston-based pri­vate equi­ty firm Fire­man Cap­i­tal Part­ners’, accord­ing to Chris Furnari report­ing for beer news web­site Brew­bound. Or it was tak­en over by anoth­er brew­ery, Oskar Blues, accord­ing to, er, Cig­ar City: ‘Putting months of acquire­ment rumors to rest, the deci­sion is dri­ven by mutu­al irrev­er­ence, respect and desire to stay true to craft beer roots.’

→ Takeover news #2: Last month glob­al brew­ing giant AB-InBev took over The Beer Hawk, a small UK online beer dis­tri­b­u­tion com­pa­ny; now it’s bought a sim­i­lar firm in France accord­ing to French web­site Beer Time. A strat­e­gy emerges? (Trans­la­tion from French here; via @BryanDRoth.)

→ One for fans of his­toric details: Gary Gill­man has found what he thinks is a pre­vi­ous­ly un-mined source of infor­ma­tion 18th cen­tu­ry malt­ing that illu­mi­nates how porter was made.

→ These struck us as twin pieces: Craft Beer & Brew­ing has pro­duced a list of slang used by extreme beer geeks in the US, from beached whale to porch bomb; while, for Draft, Kate Bernot asks ‘Why Are Beer Peo­ple so Out­raged?’:

Will Gor­don… sees beer as so cen­tral to some people’s lifestyles that they’re unable to tol­er­ate oppos­ing views.

There is a pecu­liar, loud 1 per­cent of craft beer fans who are peo­ple with an absurd lifestyle that they want val­i­dat­ed,” he says. “If you make fun of dri­ving up a dirt road in Ver­mont at 7 in the morn­ing to get a bot­tle of Hill Farm­stead, what those peo­ple hear is their wife’s voice say­ing they should have gone to the kid’s soc­cer game that morn­ing instead.”

Doorway to Lisbon beer bar.
SOURCE: The Beer­ma­ck. (Cropped.)

→ Alex at The Beer­ma­ck­’s guide to ‘Good Beer in Lis­bon (and where to find it)’ is (a) like a vir­tu­al city break in its own right and (b) poten­tial­ly use­ful if you’re plan­ning on vis­it­ing Por­tu­gal this sum­mer.

→ Final­ly, via Beer Today, research firm Mintel has pub­lished new research into craft beer in Britain with some inter­est­ing nuggets to chew on:

What’s more, just one in four (24%) beer buy­ers are will­ing to spend more than £4 on a pint of craft beer in the on-trade and 21% are unpre­pared to even go above £3 per pint. On the oth­er hand, there are a small num­ber of con­sumers who clear­ly have strong beliefs in craft cre­den­tials as 5% of beer buy­ers are pre­pared to exceed £5 on a pint of craft beer.

→ in his bud­get on Wednes­day the Chan­cel­lor, George Osborne, froze beer duty. Brigid Sim­monds of the BBPA thinks it’s good news; oth­ers (to sum­marise chat­ter on Twit­ter) think it large­ly incon­se­quen­tial, at least from the per­spec­tive of con­sumers. This is an inter­est­ing thought, though:

→ And, final­ly, this from Gavin Huts­by is nice:

10 thoughts on “News, Nuggets & Longreads 19 March 2016”

  1. Thanks guys for the shoutout (speak­ing of North Amer­i­can slang!). The beer nerd terms are of diverse ori­gin. Noob is drawn from new­bie, so not spe­cif­ic to beer cul­ture, but an endur­ing term in many con­texts here. Bot­tle bomb is old home­brew­er lin­go, from 70s or even ear­li­er. The cra­dle for the Bel­gian beer ser­vice is a good exam­ple of the ear­ly influ­ence of Jack­son’s and oth­ers’ books on Bel­gian beer. These devices were pic­tured in many of these. I’d guess the cra­dle only make a rare appear­ance in Bel­gium itself, but it’s part of Amer­i­can craft cul­ture now.

    Now why cart? Because the cra­dle has the shape of the icon­ic Amer­i­can go-kart. There has been a revival of go-kart­ing in cer­tain quar­ters.

    A crush­er is pre-craft lin­go that has acquired a new life. In the old days, very light alu­minum was used to can adjunct lager, which was 4.7% abv , or 4% if lit­er­al­ly light, or sur­viv­ing “3.2” beer. On the beach­es or pic­nics, guys would crush them with their hands as a joke. “That’s a crush­er, man”. 🙂

    A term I’ve heard here could be added to the lex­i­con: “fun beer”. A fun beer is one that is inter­est­ing for a vari­ety of rea­sons, e.g., the taste, the look, or the peo­ple behind it. It’s real­ly a syn­onym for inter­est­ing. “Hey they keep chang­ing the label of that one, it’s a fun beer”. Or, “I just brought this back from Eng­land, Robert Plan­t’s son makes it, it’s a fun beer”.

    Some­times old slang is best. I’m await­ing for “boss beer” to come back from 50s and ear­li­er. “That beer’s boss, it’s called Anchor Steam, it’s dark and bit­ter and goes way back”.

    Or keg­ger for a beer par­ty where draft beer is served. “Tim threw a keg­ger like you would­n’t believe, when I left there were socks and things in the tree branch­es, no joke”.

    No way, I nev­er see him out of the library!”.

    I know, but those engi­neer types can sur­prise you”.


    1. the bas­ket or ves­sel used to cra­dle and pour sour beers, lam­bics, etc

      Cer­tain­ly nev­er seen this in Bel­gium, although I’ve only been a cou­ple of times.

        1. The only time we can think we’ve seen it is with bot­tles of aged Kriek at Kul­mi­na­tor in Antwerp. Is it used when there’s an expec­ta­tion you’ll be shared the bot­tling and/or mak­ing mul­ti­ple pours?

  2. Actu­al­ly, I think go-kart may not be the ori­gin for the cart to describe the beer serv­ing cra­dle or bas­ket, or at most it may have an indi­rect influ­ence. I was think­ing real­ly of soap­box, the non-motor­ized rolling cart which became pop­u­lar from the 1930s. Wood­en box­es to ship soap were adapt­ed for this – you knocked out one end and the top and put wheels on – and ear­ly exam­ples had their oblongish shape. But why isn’t the beer bas­ket called soap­box then? Maybe to avoid the unfor­tu­nate appo­si­tion of soap and beer…

    So either it was called cart because go-karts are kind of today’s soap­box and to avoid the soap ref­er­ence, or, the cra­dle for the bot­tle remind­ed some of a minia­ture gro­cery cart, since the woven straw looks a bit like the wiry met­al con­struc­tion of a gro­cery cart. Also, lit­tle met­al gro­cery carts were used to serve french fries, still are, and this start­ed in Cal­i­for­nia I believe. Your Father’s Office in San­ta Mon­i­ca, a craft beer bar, had them 20 years ago…


  3. I don’t get the beer­hawk acqui­si­tion, what are ab inbev actu­al­ly buy­ing ? Con­tracts to sup­ply (pre­sum­ably time lim­it­ed), cus­tomer data­base (some­thing peo­ple can opt out of), some knowl­edgable buy­ers ( who can leave ).

    Buy­ing a brew­ery makes sense – acquir­ing recip­ies, loy­al cus­tomers, rep­u­ta­tion.

    What is worth buy­ing in a dis­trib­u­tor which can’t walk away ?

    Unless they did­n’t pay very much mon­ey – I can’t see the point in an acqui­si­tion like this.

    Hap­py to be enlight­ened !


  4. I am pre­pared to pay £5+ a pint, with one pro­vi­so: the beer had bet­ter be worth £5+ a pint. Sad­ly, I find it very rarely is.

  5. From the ‘out­rage’ post:

    I have a very dif­fer­ent rela­tion­ship with craft beer as a prod­uct than oth­er goods,” says Bill DeBaun, one of the edi­tors of and the author of a some­times snarky per­son­al Twit­ter account, @dcbeerbill. “I don’t tweet like this about ketchup. I haven’t spent one-hun­dredth the time with any oth­er kind of prod­uct that I have with craft beer. It’s not just going home to a six-pack in the fridge; a lot of my social life is tied up in this prod­uct. Peo­ple under­stand that ketchup is a busi­ness, but do not want to accept that beer is a busi­ness. And I’m guilty of that, too.”



    Craft beer.

  6. I think the new start­e­gy of InBev to buy whosellers and sup­pli­ers is way more dan­ger­ous than any oth­er craft brew­ery buy­ings.

    Unfor­tu­nate­ly, If a lot of peo­ple care about the inde­pen­dan­cy of the busi­ness, most of the French peo­ple will keep buy­ing beer through Inter­drinks. Even more because, they are going to have more com­mu­ni­ca­tion bud­get, a bet­ter logis­tic and also access to a lot of pre­mi­um prod­uct now (Goose Island etc..).

    In my opin­ion, this is the time for prop­er craft brew­eries to react. This world needs to for­get the ‘craft’ term which does not mean any­thing nowa­days. The inde­pen­dan­cy is the key and actu­al­ly, the EU – here anoth­er rea­son for UK to stay in – already have a juridic term which is ‘Small Inde­pen­dant Brew­eries’. It is cur­rent­ly a fis­cal law from EU but I am sure it is a huge start­ing point for ‘craft beer’ in EU.

    Buy Inde­pen­dant, don’t buy craft !

    Thanks for quot­ing HBT, it is a priv­e­leage as I see you as one of the best blog­ging exam­ple. If you need any infor­ma­tion about the French mar­ket, email me or we can have a chat some­where as I live in Lon­don.

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