News, Nuggets & Longreads 25 June 2016: Flagships, Bees and Corn

Date overlaid on an image of pumpclips on a pub wall.

After a couple of weeks off here, once again, is our round-up of all the writing on beer and pubs that’s caught our eye and made us think in the last seven days, from talk of flagship beers to a ‘living sign’.

There’s been quite a bit of chat in the air about the so-called promis­cu­ity of beer con­sumers and the threat that pos­es to the idea of the ‘flag­ship beer’. Here are three relat­ed items we spot­ted in the last week:

→ First, there’s Chelsie Markel on ‘Death of the Flag­ships: But Why?’ – ‘Beer dis­trib­u­tors who sell cas­es of beer (con­tain­ing 24 bot­tles) are find­ing that their inven­to­ry of craft beer is sit­ting longer before sell­ing or not sell­ing at all. Just check the pack­ag­ing dates on the card­board case and more often than not, you’ll dis­cov­er the beer isn’t exact­ly the fresh­est.’

→ Then Derek Dellinger echoed that thought from a brew­ery insid­er’s per­spec­tive: ‘Most brew­eries now don’t expect to have one huge mega-hit that accounts for 90% of sales. In the rare cas­es where that does hap­pen, it looks shock­ing­ly anom­alous. How weird was it that The Alchemist, one of the most talked about and sought-after craft brew­eries in the world for a good part of this decade, only made and sold a sin­gle beer for a long chunk of that time?

→ And, final­ly, from the UK, there’s the Morn­ing Adver­tis­er’s report of com­ments made by Graeme Loudon of CGA Strat­e­gy‘Our chal­lenge is under­stand­ing con­sumers bet­ter – we have a very promis­cu­ous con­sumer who is 18 per cent more like­ly to try new brands than two years ago and the aver­age con­sumer has 12.2 drinks brands with­in their reper­toire.’

Beehive in tree.
‘The Bee­hive Inn’ by Jo Turn­er (Cre­ative Com­mons) via

How is it pos­si­ble that we’d nev­er heard of a pub whose sign is an actu­al (some­times) work­ing, buzzing bee­hive up a tree out­side the door? Joanne Major explains more at All Things Geor­gian. (Via @IntoxProject)

Pub interior.
The Burling­ton Hotel on The Esplanade at Sher­ing­ham. SOURCE: Pints & Pubs.

Pints & Pubs has a nice run-down of all the pubs in Sher­ing­ham, Nor­folk, which com­bines per­son­al impres­sions with his­toric research. We’ve nev­er been to Sher­ing­ham and aren’t plan­ning to go any­time soon but this was a fun read packed with tit­bits and triv­ia: ‘Oppo­site the pub, “White­hall Yard” was the site of the first bomb dropped on Britain in WWI, at 8:30pm on Tues­day 19th Jan­u­ary 1915 – part of the unex­plod­ed bomb cas­ing is on dis­play in Sher­ing­ham Muse­um.’

It’s always fun when some­one ques­tions a craft beer com­mand­ment. In this case, it’s Stan Hierony­mus who, for Draft mag­a­zine chal­lenges the idea that corn in beer is nec­es­sar­i­ly the work of the Dev­il:

Agrar­i­an Ales also uses heir­loom corn, which offers even more oppor­tu­ni­ty for explor­ing fla­vors; plus, avail­abil­i­ty is becom­ing less of a prob­lem. “There’s enough South Amer­i­can and Cen­tral Amer­i­can cui­sine that we’re final­ly see­ing some progress in heir­loom corn. When we ask peo­ple for a 50-pound bag, their heads don’t explode,” [brew­er Mark Jilg] says.

Victorian mirrors behind a pub bar.
SOURCE: Ron Pat­tin­son at Shut Up About Bar­clay Perkins.

We men­tioned in pass­ing the oth­er week that we knew Ron Pat­tin­son was a fan of Old Peculi­er and now here’s more evi­dence: an account of drink­ing sev­er­al pints of it in The Muse­um Tav­ern, Lon­don, while observ­ing the run­ning of the pub. Pub bogs are in many ways the per­fect indi­ca­tor of the qual­i­ty of a pub and Ron pro­vides full tast­ing notes:

This real­ly is a well-run pub. Last time I went to the bog, the toi­let seat was all shit­ted up. Clean this time. I keep get­ting more impressed. There’s an obvi­ous gaffer, work­ing hard and chat­ting. What a pub is all about. This could be my new Lon­don local. Sur­prised that it’s man­aged, not ten­ant­ed.

(This might almost have been an entry to The Ses­sion #113…)

Two glasses of traditional Lithuanian beer.
Seno­lių and Medutis. SOURCE: Lars Mar­ius Garshol.

Lars Mar­ius Garshol’s writ­ing com­bines orig­i­nal research with great prose and his lat­est post, ‘Su Puta’, about a vis­it to Lithua­nia, is no dif­fer­ent:

When Arturas, the brew­er, is mash­ing he locks the door and will not let any­one in. If Ele­na or any­one else bangs too hard on the door at this point, the foam will col­lapse, she says. ‘And then it will no longer be Su Puta [with foam],’ I quip. Vid­man­tas trans­lates this, chuck­ling, but it’s met with stony-faced silence. So appar­ent­ly this is not a jok­ing mat­ter. Which I per­haps should have guessed, because sim­i­lar beliefs were held with great seri­ous­ness by farm­house brew­ers in Scan­di­navia, too.

Robin LeBlanc’s lat­est col­umn for Toron­toist is high­ly per­son­al and rather mov­ing:

For those not in the know, the Old Nick is a pub on Broad­view and Dan­forth that has been around for yonks. It is proud­ly and unabashed­ly female-owned and queer friend­ly… Sit­ting beside me at the bar was a 69-year-old man named Tim… We start­ed talk­ing when he asked me for a beer sug­ges­tion, as he over­heard that I was a beer writer… Then we hit on the sub­ject of Pride. Now, Tim had the priv­i­lege of expe­ri­enc­ing the event in its ear­ly days and didn’t go out to it as much any­more, but because of “what recent­ly hap­pened,” he felt a sense of impor­tance to attend this year’s fes­tiv­i­ties.