News, Nuggets & Longreads 3 September 2016: Blokes and Books

This week, we’ve mostly been enjoying profiles of blokes who brew, blokes talking about themselves, and obituaries of blokes who have died, along with a bit of navel-gazing about beer writing.

For Good Beer Hunting Kyle Kastranec (@Beer_Notes) profiles a reluctant businessman who doesn’t seem to particularly enjoy the success is his brewery is experiencing:

At some point during my time with Henry Nguyen, he looked me dead in the eye and said, “I’m not a person that was meant to own a business.”

He’s right. He’s also anxious, neurotic, and indecisive. He’s attention-averse. He’s not even all that interested in making money.

Painted Mahr's sign on a wall in Bamberg.

Another brewer profile, this time by Will Hawkes (@Will_Hawkes) for All About Beer, highlights a tension between trend and tradition in German brewing which is finding an outlet in the person of Stephan Michel of Mahr’s in Bamberg:

“I am Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde!” he admits, laughing. “I have the traditional thing and then I have the rock and roll thing on the other side.” Mahr’s Bräu, which is imported into the U.S. by Shelton Brothers, is very traditional: the brewery focuses on two beers, the dark amber Ungespundet… and pale Hell (although others are brewed)… But then there are the snappily-designed t-shirts and rockabilly concerts at the brewery, the 250-mL bottles… and the suggestion that he might soon start canning his beers.

CAMRA local guide books 1990s-2000s.

Though not about beer specifically veteran food-and-drink guidebook editor John McKenna’s observations on publishing in the internet age has some obvious resonance with publications like Des de Moor’s London pub guide in mind:

When we started writing books, readers wanted information that they couldn’t get anywhere else. Now, the issue in writing a guidebook is to actually edit all the information because there’s too much. They want you to do the legwork.

(Via @TheBeerNut.)

Detail from a vintage India Pale Ale beer label.

Dr Sam Goodman (@drsamgoodman) is engaged in a project researching the history of alcohol (ale and porter primarily) in colonial India from c.1850 t0 1947. He is drip-feeding some of his work via a blog where, this week, he told a tale of the church’s role in promoting temperance among the troops:

In 1923, the Reverend C. Phillips Cape, a Wesleyan minister formerly of Lucknow, felt so strongly about the subject that he voiced his concerns via a letter to the Liverpool Daily Post & Mercury. In his letter, Cape railed against the high levels of alcoholism in the military that he claimed to have witnessed during his time in India, stating that it prompted soldiers to contract venereal diseases or assault defenceless Indians, and that such actions hampered his own missionary work. Moreover, Cape cited a memo authored by Lord Rawlinson at Simla that criticised the fashion for ‘short drinks’ and cocktails since the war, seeing it as a source of much harm both to the individual and to British prestige.

Cover: The Book of Beer.
SOURCE: Draft magazine.

We were pleased to see Joe Stange (@thirsty_pilgrim) writing about early beer writer Bob Abel for Draft magazine because we acquired a copy of his large format 1976 scrapbook of observations on pubs and beer a few years ago, primarily because it contains one of a handful of contemporary pieces about Becky’s Dive Bar. Joe says:

I don’t know how many people bought Abel’s Book of Beer. I’m certain it didn’t sell millions and go on to be translated into many different languages—as did Jackson’s World Guide to Beer, which frankly is the better book. It’s more ambitious, better written, with prettier pictures, and relies less on pubby anecdotes. Jackson’s 1977 World Guide might be the most influential beer book ever written, all things considered, and Jackson—who died nine years ago this past Tuesday—remains the most influential writer on the subject of beer.

Doom Bar bottles on a supermarket shelf.

David Smith is a behind-the-scenes industry figure who has worked with many microbreweries over the years as an advisor and consultant. For the York Press he has reflected on his career and the state of the industry:

I’m often asked which brewery I’m most proud of, or which beers I enjoy drinking the most. One brewery that always comes to mind is a brewery I helped set up over 25 years ago, for a gentleman named Bill Sharpe in the village of Rock in Cornwall. Sharpe’s Doom Bar is now one of the largest cask ale brands in the UK. While it may have lost a little of its character along the way, now being brewed in 100-barrel batches rather than the ten-barrel batches, it nonetheless remains a consistently good session beer.

(It’s one of those local news sites with intrusive and annoying ads — sorry!)

Dennis Holliday, former head brewer at Eldridge Pope and the man behind Thomas Hardy ale, has died at the age of 99. An obituary appeared in the Telegraph:

In 1940, he volunteered for the Royal Navy but failed his medical due to poor eyesight. After finding out what Holliday did for a living, the medical officer declared: “You’ll be much more useful making beer for the troops.” Moving to the Tollemache brewery in Ipswich in 1942, after the war he became second brewer at Bass’s Wenlock Brewery in London. He was appointed to the post of head brewer at Eldridge Pope (EP) in Dorchester, in 1954 and soon set about improving the cloudy, unreliable beers which were then being produced by the elderly brewery, instituting a massive clean-out and refining its products.

(Via @bantambreweryco.)

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