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 thought on “The Month That Was: November 2016”

  1. After­noon,
    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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