Blogging and writing

The Month That Was: May 2016

All in one handy post, for those of you who weren’t paying attention, here’s everything we wrote in the last month, from Craftonia to Watney’s.

double_diamond_coronation_1953We started the month with a gallery of beer advertisements from the New Elizabethan Age, celebrating the Festival of Britain in 1951 and the Coronation in 1953. This is a graphic style we’ve really been getting into lately — so very British, and a thread that carries through Richard Lonsdale-Hands’s work for Whitbread in the 1950s.

Flagging an interesting post by Dave Bailey we considered the difficulty of inspecting and enforcing in an age of 1,500 breweries.

Adapted from a Soviet propaganda poster: a man waving a banner.In 100 words we attempted to shine a light on the Global Republic of Craftonia, whose citizens are uniformly opposed to homogeneity, and whose colonial outposts can be found around the world, identifiably by their filament light-bulbs and wall-manifestos.

Illustration: a pint of beer with Van Gogh textures.For the 111th Session we responded to a question set by Oliver Gray: are we having, or have we had, a beer mid-life crisis? Yes, we have — well, a ‘wobble’, anyway.

Oliver’s round-up of all the responses is here: Part One | Part Two (pending).


Do all beer articles have to boil down to DOOM or TRIUMPH? (We get it — people have to generate Stories — but, still…)

William Settle (c) Anne Edwards.

Anne Edwards emailed us when she noticed that we’d written about Magee & Marshall of Bolton. A few emails and postcards later we had this ‘interview’ in which she recalled working there as a microbiologist in the 1960s, and her own family’s history with brewing in Bolton. (That’s her Dad in the picture.)

The Return of FrankensteinDracula Has Risen from the GraveReturn of the Living Dead Part II… None of these cinematic horrors is quite as shocking as Watney’s is Back!

Detail from 1937 Budweiser advertisement.We tried really hard to answer Mark Dredge’s question about who first started branding beer glasses, when, where, and why, but a definitive answer eluded us. We’ve had lots of suggestions — surely Bass must have done it, and what about Guinness, or the Belgians? — but no firm evidence as yet.

Is it us or are there a lot of Americans working in British craft beer?

Green Bottles Standing on a WallIn 1946 there was nothing trendier than green beer. As in, beer dyed green. Which just goes to show there’s nothing new, &c. &c. (We thought this was a quickie but it’s led to a whole new line of enquiry which might, at some point, turn into a substantial article.)

Engraved mirrors at the Red Lion, St James's, London.On our recent research trip to London we found ourselves falling back on comforting, old-school, old-fashioned beers from Fuller’s, Young’s and Samuel Smith, and failing to try anything much that was new and sexy. And that’s absolutely fine. (This inspired a post in Italian by Andrea Turco at Cronache di Birra — cool!)

Last month we got what we we think is a scoop: Magee & Marshall of Bolton is being revived as a brewing brand. That post smoked out the reviver himself, Edd Mather, who answered a few questions for us. (Consensus: he’s going about it the right way.)

Three beer caps on old German ticket stubs.We tasted the last three beers selected by Joe Stange for our Magical Mystery Pour series, all of which came from Bavaria, and one of which, Keesman Herren Pils, has gone straight on to our list of beers to buy by the case. (Next up, a set of ‘geek bait’ beers chosen by The Beer Nut.)

Watney's Red Barrel on a branded tray, in a branded glass.

WE FINALLY GOT TO TASTE WATNEY’S RED BARREL! (Sort of.) This was a major event for us — as in, the culmination of several years’-worth of wishing, hoping, conniving and manoeuvring, with some failed attempts along the way. Now we just need to get someone to keg it…

A nugget from a publican’s memories of the 1950s and 60s: did the legalising of betting shops in 1961 do lasting damage to pubs? (There’s an interesting comment on this one from John Lester who probably ought to start a blog based on his most recent contributions here.)

surrey_pubs_cover_detail_840Six months late (we thought we’d already hit publish) we finally got round to posting a summary of the bits we underlined in Surrey Pubs, a guide book published in 1965, which features yet another Drinkin’ Donkey™ and lashings of lovely beer from the wood.

In a small press memoir published in 2012 we found Mike Axworthy’s account of dodgy dealings among draymen in 1960s Liverpool: ‘I soon learned why our wages were so poorly paid, because the company knew we made them up on the fiddle…’

In our most recent post we asked whether it was still OK not to be OK with big breweries taking over little ones, or are congratulations for the sellers-up (if not out…) now mandatory? (Stan Hieronymus added some brief commentary here.)

There were also several instalments of our weekly links round-up — go back and check them out if you’re after further stimulus, most of the material is still good for a few weeks yet even if the packaging is puffing up a bit.

And, finally, here’s our most popular (proper) Tweet of the month:

There’s plenty more where that came from @boakandbailey, and on Facebook, and in our email newsletter — 1,000+ words of proper, exclusive stuff, every month. Please do follow, like, sign-up and all that jazz.