News, Nuggets & Longreads 10 December 2016: Howlers, Landlords, Shipping Containers

Pub sign: 'Saloon'. (With date overlaid.)

Here’s everything beer- or pub-related that’s caught our attention in the past week, from howlers to sprouts.

The founders of Honest Brew.

We try to steer clear of soap opera spats between businesses but this dialogue in open letters between beer retailers Honest Brew (independent) and The Beer Hawk (now owned by AB-InBev) covers interesting ground, even it is wrapped up in bickering over a cardboard tube. Here’s what Honest Brew had to say:

At HonestBrew, we stand with the independents. We are proud to be a member of the UK beer industry, and look forward to a future where we continue to bring independent, world-class brews to beer lovers across the UK. We pledge to only support and purchase beer that is not controlled by Blandy [AB-InBev].

And here’s Beer Hawk’s response:

The change in our ownership hasn’t changed our values, nor has it changed how we obsess about the world’s best beers… In fact, the change has enabled us to do a better job of hunting out the world’s best beers. We have been able to secure a warehouse five times as large and employ twice as many people. As a result, we have added 300 new beers to our stock and reduced delivery charges by nearly 30%, making all our beer even more accessible to beer lovers. 

(Disclosure: a couple of years ago Beer Hawk sold our book with a case of beer and we wrote some notes to go with it. They didn’t pay us but that counts as a relationship, so, you know…)


Did you know that 75 per cent of the world’s beer mats (drip mats, Bierdeckels) are made in one small town in Germany? For Eater, Brian Blickenstaff visits the factory.


For the Spectator Tom Goldsmith writes in praise of the pub landlord:

These days, it’s not really about the beer — that battle has largely been won. Even grim chain pubs sell craft beer and the days when it took serious research to find a decent bitter are long gone. For me, at least, the mark of a good pub is not its look or its location. There is something to be said for a village inn where your pint of foaming ale is brought to your table next to an open fire, but it’s as easy to have a great time in a 1970s estate pub, if it has the right atmosphere. And this is created (or destroyed) by the pub landlord.

(Via @KnutAl.)


Macro shot of 1p pieces with The Queen's profile.

From Wee Beefy here’s something you don’t read too often: a frank account of the literal cost of being obsessed with beer and pubs:

My debt is mine. I caused it. My lack of funds stems from my own reckless, wilful, degenerate over consumption of ale in fine public houses the land over.

For clarity, specifically, nobody else:

Forced me to go to the pub almost every day for the last 5 years;

Held me at knife-point and poured delicious real ales and keg beers down my capacious throat as if liquid itself was going out of fashion;

Made me buy numerous bottles of beer that one should maybe only buy now and again as an expensive treat;

Compelled me to spend my existing funds and many many more travelling the country with friends and family to visit amazing unspoilt pubs.


David Cameron and President Xi at The Plough.
From Flickr under Creative Commons.

An odd bit of news: in October 2015 Chinese President Xi Jinping visited a pub in Oxfordshire with the then Prime Minister David Cameron. This, it turns out, inspired an obsession with the pub among Chinese tourists and the pub has now been bought by a Chinese firm (reports the BBC) which has plans to build a chain of English pubs based on The Plough back home.


Peter McKerry brings news that the railway arch brewery is dead — long live the shipping container!


And, finally, there’s this seasonal image from Twitter:

3 thoughts on “News, Nuggets & Longreads 10 December 2016: Howlers, Landlords, Shipping Containers”

  1. Loved the post by Brian Blickenstaff about Bierdeckelland in Germany.
    How is it I’m just learning about that now? It needs its own museum – it’d become a cult destination.

    1. Tony — depends on how you define decent. If you like Doom Bar, GK IPA, Marston’s Pedigree, etc., which many genuinely do, then that statement probably holds up.

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