News pubs

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

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.