News, Nuggets & Longreads for 4 June 2016

Illustration: government stamp on a British pint glass.

Here are all the blog posts and articles from the past week that have captured our attention in one way or another, from ponderings on the pint to the state of Orval.

Whether you like to drink your beer by the pint or in small­er mea­sures is anoth­er of those fault lines between Them and Us in British beer. Chris Hall (who works for Lon­don brew­ery Brew by Num­bers) con­sid­ers whether the fact that the pint is the default UK beer serv­ing is dis­tort­ing the mar­ket:

Even in the most wide-rang­ing, small­er-serv­ing-focused craft beer bars in the coun­try, we remain inter­est­ed in fill­ing a pint-shaped hole, and if it remains an unchange­able line in our pro­gram­ming, our indus­try will remain defined by the beers that fit this space, and not by what we could, or per­haps should, be brew­ing.


The brewhouse at Orval.
SOURCE: Bel­gian Smaak.

2015 Beer Writer of the Year Bre­andán Kear­ney con­sid­ers the state and his­to­ry of the brew­ery at Orval in a lux­u­ri­ous­ly long post at Bel­gian Smaak, which also has lots of juicy detail for home brew­ers and the gen­er­al­ly inquis­i­tive:

The malt bill is an evolv­ing one, bar­ley vari­eties such as ‘Alek­si’ and ‘Pris­ma’ used pre­vi­ous­ly hav­ing been replaced for exam­ple with the ‘Sebas­t­ian’ vari­ety. ‘It is dif­fi­cult to speak about vari­eties of bar­ley malt because a lot of them dis­ap­pear for new ones,’ says Anne-Françoise [Pypaert]. ‘Brew­ers don’t have much con­trol on that because farm­ers val­ue vari­eties with a good yield. What I can say is that we use two pale malt vari­eties, one caramel malt and a lit­tle bit of black bar­ley.’


Pub scene by Libby Hall.
One of Lib­by Hal­l’s pic­tures. SOURCE: Pho­toeast web­site.

This gallery of pho­tographs of The Engi­neer, a pub in Suf­folk, tak­en by Lib­by Hall in 1966, is gor­geous. Not much read­ing but take your time and linger on each pic­ture – there’s plen­ty of detail to absorb. Note, for exam­ple, the num­ber of halves being drunk, and the lack of pump-clips. And those faces! You can see these and more pic­tures at a Pho­toeast exhi­bi­tion in Halesworth, Suf­folk, until 25 June. (Via @teninchwheels.)


Pool table in a London pub.
SOURCE: Ulti­mate Lon­don Pub Crawl blog.

Greg and Andy at The Ulti­mate Lon­don Pub Crawl tack­led Can­ning Town and the write-up is, as ever, crammed with inci­dent and detail. There’s a bit of poet­ry…

Its patrons were of such close ilk that they seemed almost of one homoge­nous life-form, like a vast human fun­gus sprout­ing here and there from the ale-soaked car­pet.

…as well as a star­tling rev­e­la­tion that, in this part of town, the smok­ing ban does­n’t seem to have tak­en:

Final­ly the fog of igno­rance cleared: every­one was smok­ing. Open­ly smok­ing, not vap­ing or sim­ply pre-rolling but draw­ing deeply on cig­a­rettes, drop­ping ash non­cha­lant­ly in and around count­less ash­trays. Dick­ens’ “fetid mist” was still here after all, alive and well…


An East London bar.
‘Howl at the Moon in Hox­ton’ by Rebec­ca Pate. SOURCE: Brew­ing East blog.

Rebec­ca Pate (@rpate) is a Cana­di­an liv­ing in East Lon­don whose blog is rel­a­tive­ly new. (Con­sid­er this a sug­ges­tion to add it to your RSS feed.) In her most recent post she con­sid­ers what makes one pub appeal­ing while anoth­er is repel­lent:

My bug­bear is man­i­cured veneers, where bars exhib­it ran­dom back­lit dis­plays of bot­tles (art?), chan­de­liers are sus­pend­ed from the ceil­ing and décor and fix­tures are all too coor­di­nat­ed. For me, this projects a sense of a slap­dash, soul­less shelf bar- a bar in a box- that is devoid of any desir­able atmos­phere.


Illustration: Sweet Tooth brand can sugar cube.

Ed has been under­tak­ing some seri­ous inves­ti­ga­tions into sug­ar, a some­times neglect­ed aspect of brew­ing his­to­ry:

This gives me evi­dence for my cur­rent the­o­ry on why invert sug­ar was pop­u­lar with brew­ers. Invert sug­ar (glucose/fructose mix) is sweet­er than the sucrose from which it is made, and peo­ple liked the taste.


And, final­ly, a fan­tas­tic paint­ing of a par­tic­u­lar­ly aus­tere-look­ing estate pub at Park Hill Sheffield as Tweet­ed by artist Mandy Payne, via @BrutalHouse:

We’ll be away for the next cou­ple of Sat­ur­days and won’t be able to put togeth­er these round-ups. As usu­al, we’ll share some links on Twit­ter instead, so fol­low us there, and check out Stan Hierony­mus’s always-thought­ful selec­tions each Mon­day.

2 thoughts on “News, Nuggets & Longreads for 4 June 2016”

  1. Will book­mark @rebecca tae as I am always inter­est­ed in East Lon­don pubs. Would have com­ment­ed on her blog, but can’t work out how and take issue with this state­ment: “An immense beer selec­tion is high­ly seduc­tive and the obvi­ous pre­req­ui­site of a good drink­ing pub” Er no. It isn’t. Some of the best drink­ing pubs in the world offer only one beer or maybe two.

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