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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