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The Month That Was: November 2016

November 2016 (text over picture of pub ceiling).

November was a moderately productive month with a smattering of posts that we reckon stood out as a bit better than usual, plus all the side orders dished up on Facebook and Twitter. (Do give us a like/follow.)

A quick side note: December being the month of lists, round-ups and predictions, we’re going to be putting together a Golden Pints piece as usual but, this time, it’s going in our email newsletter rather than on the blog. Sign up if you’re interested in knowing which was our favourite crown cap design (UK) and to find out who gets the award for best use of grapefruit juice. But now, back to business.

We started the month, like almost everyone else, by having opinions about Anthony Bourdain’s opinions about beer: ‘STOP TELLING PEOPLE THE BEER THEY ARE DRINKING IS THE WRONG BEER UNLESS THEY SPECIFICALLY ASK YOU FOR ADVICE!’

Marston's rebranded beer range.
SOURCE: Marston’s, via the Morning Advertiser. Yes, we’re sick of this image too.

We surveyed some views on the Marston’s rebrand — all negative, as far as we could see, from various perspectives — and offered a few thoughts of our own:

Someone who isn’t an expert but is vaguely interested in trying a beer similar to BrewDog’s might casually pick these up at the supermarket only to be let down by the contents. You might trick a consumer into buying once with misleading packaging (what we’ve previously called craftsploitation) but it doesn’t win repeat custom.

In the aftermath, the Midlands Beer Blog Collective wrote about their experience at the rebrand launch and came out in support.

Map of Europe with Italy, Belgium and the UK highlighted.

We tried to work out what the heck AB-InBev might be up to with their global craft beer strategy. (Our suggestion that they might seek to open a chain of craft bars came true almost immediately; Richard Taylor had some further thoughts here.)

For Csaba Babak’s Session 117 on the subject of the Future of Beer we repeated an old prediction: sooner or later, someone is going to launch a mainstream cloudy pale ale. His round-up of all the Session posts is here.

We gave some notes on Evil Twin Molotov Cocktail and pondered whether it was worth the price we paid. As well as some interesting comments on the question of value a semantics discussion broke out: what exactly is the difference between a Double IPA and an Imperial one, if any?

Guinness Snack Demonstration Unit van.
Our favourite posts from last month are about the Guinness pub grub programme of the early 1960s. First, we outlined how the Pub Snack Demonstration Unit operated and then we dissected the cookery book that it distributed to publicans up and down the country.

'Fish Titbits' -- bowls of prawns, mussels, etc.

We finished up the fourth lot of Magical Mystery Pour beers as selected by David Bishop, AKA BroadfordBrewer, AKA BeerDoodles. Black Sheep Riggwelter was a pleasant surprise, and good value; while Kirkstall Dissolution Extra IPA prompted an interesting discussion about whether it was meant to taste so Old School:

I’m always a little bemused by this sort of reaction to Dis Extra. I used to brew it, and can assure that inspite the old timey label, it aspires to be a proper US IPA. American and Aussie varieties, at least during my tenure, and high-ish t90 dry hopping. I’d agree that it doesn’t achieve that, settling for something more pleasantly marmalady.

Finally, Wold Top Marmalade Porter left us a bit puzzled — where was the marmalade? — but not entirely displeased: ‘It’s like drinking a garden shed.’

Screengrab: Holding the Fort.

Marks & Gran are almost household names, at least if you’re the kind of person who reads the credits on TV programmes, having written numerous beloved sitcoms in the last 40 years. Their first, though, starred Peter Davison from Doctor Who as a microbrewer.

By a circuitous route we ended up watching short documentaries about pubs on Vimeo and found a few corkers which we rounded up here:

The similarity in tone of these films and others — wistful, slightly sad — says something about how the pub is viewed in 21st Century Britain. We suppose it’s because it feels fragile or endangered as an institution that people feel motivated to document it, while they still can.

The Fellowship Inn when it was new.
The Fellowship Inn in the 1920s. SOURCE: Inside Housing.

A 1927 book about English pubs gave us the phrase we’ve been looking for to describe a certain tendency:

Evidently this man is a member of what I once heard described as ‘The Flea and Sawdust School’; one of the type which prefers the stuffy ‘coziness’ of the dirty, ill-ventilated taproom to any of the ‘new fangled’ ideas.

The Wellington: close until further notiice.

One of our quick thoughts prompted more than 35 comments, perhaps predictably given the subject: do we need to worry about the recent spate of brewery closures?

Off the back of that, we also shared something we’d been sitting on since 2013: Jennifer Nicholls personal reflections on the closure of her own brewery, Northcote, and the challenges it faced in the run up:

The decision to stop was purely a matter of logic. If we thought with our hearts we would still be going and weeping over the state of the economy. In simple terms the run up to the Christmas period wasn’t as big as it needed to be to get us through the inevitable quiet period at the start of the year.

Boak reflected on how, rather to her surprise, it turned out she’d been missing the flat, lukewarm London pints of her youth.

Finally, there were the usual weekly links round-ups featuring all sorts of interesting reading from other beer blogs, news outlets and elsewhere.

One reply on “The Month That Was: November 2016”

I got a link from my Son about branded glasses and I have one from circa 1820 – Urquell Pilsner.
I sent a photo to the brewery some years back and the advised that it was an early promotion from around the time the brewery opened in 1820.
I also have some other pre-war (as well as the ones advised by other respondents).
I will dig out a photo/s and forward.
Regards, Diarmuid.

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