Here’s all the writing from the last week we’ve found most stimulating, from reflections on children in pubs to a peek behind the scenes of how tabloid newspapers cover Binge Britain.
For the Pool Zoë Beaty writes about her time as a junior reporter dispatched on to the streets to find photographic evidence of young women over-indulging in alcohol:
We were asked to ‘find the woman, crawling on the pavement with vomit-flecked hair’ (a line which has always stayed with me). They wanted fights. They wanted bodily fluids. They wanted short skirts and high heels – anything that fitted the ‘scantily clad’ caption they’d already written… The true reflection of the night – the hundreds of other people having a brilliant time, aside from that one girl who fell over and is subsequently ridiculed – doesn’t fit the mould they’ve already created for young British working-class women…
In what has become an annual fixture Richard Taylor of the Beercast has posted his list of breweries to watch in 2017. He works in the industry (for BrewDog) which may give his observations either more or less credibility depending on your point of view but we tend to find him balanced and astute, and he uses this list as a way to highlight some over-arching trends and issues.
The Bearded Housewife who last week gave us a run-down of how to find child-friendly pubs in East London this week returned to the topic in the philosophical abstract: why do people have a problem with children and pubs and can this argument ever be resolved?
Why would we not say badly-behaved people are a big minus point? Is it that we assume bad behaviour on the part of children is inevitable? Is it that we, perhaps subconsciously, exclude children from the set of ‘people’? If the former, the statement [that you don’t well-behaved children] starts to lose a portion of its unassailability… unless your benchmark for bad behaviour is absurdly low, it’s not reasonable to avoid pubs on the basis that any children in them are likely to be, or become, badly behaved, any more than it’s reasonable to avoid, en mass, pubs with football fans because you think they’re likely to kick-off.
There have been quite a lot of blog posts about Cloudwater’s decision to cease brewing cask but not millions as some have over-excitably suggested. Peter McKerry rounds them up here but we wanted to pick out just one to read if you don’t have time for the full set. Martyn Cornell, a CAMRA member since the 1970s and a beer writer more or less since the cradle, ties the matter into CAMRA’s Revitalisation project and uses his authority to cut through some of the customary delicacy:
I’m not totally convinced Camra can be saved in the long term, given the online comments I read from craft beer drinkers who clearly see Camra members as dull, boring, elderly people drinking dull, boring, elderly beer. The problems with recruiting young activists to the campaign have been apparent for years – and the really dreadful statistic from the revitalisation project consultation is that under 3 per cent of responders were under 30. I’m in the ‘dull, boring and elderly’ cohort myself, but I love, eg, Cloudwater DIPA as much as I love Fuller’s Chiswick. However, I fear anyone turning up to a Camra branch meeting is more likely to meet someone like Tim Spitzer, former chair of West Norfolk Camra branch, than someone like me. I am sure Mr Spitzer has done an enormous amount of good work for the cause of real ale in the Norfolk region and, having been a Camra branch chairman myself, I know what hard work the job is. But his rant in the latest edition of Norfolk Nips, the local Camra magazine, is certain to guarantee that anyone under 40 who reads it will decide instantly that the campaign holds no welcome for them.
We’ve been predicting that Birmingham will be the next city to gain a thriving craft beer scene for a couple of years and it has seemed to be getting there. But now, following on from the loss of the The Craven Arms as a beer-geek-friendly destination, comes news that the Birmingham Beer Bash will not be taking place in 2017. (Link to Facebook.) We don’t read this as a death knell for British beer – we know from speaking to David Shipman that it was always a huge effort to put on and left the organisers out of pocket, and the decision to run another has been touch and go each year – but it’s certainly bad news.
But, then again, there is also the news that BrewDog has closed its central London bottle-shop and this from Craig Heap in re: Cardiff’s best-known craft beer venue:
Bugger. I thought @TheGravityStn was closing for a refurb but it has closed full stop.
— Craig Heap (@CraigHeap) January 5, 2017
We’re going to start keeping a tally of good news vs. bad news – perhaps 2017 is when the hurt begins?