Blogging and writing

Everything We Wrote in January 2017

From Golden Pints to Victorian faux-lager, here’s a summary of our blog posts from the last month with updates and links out to other people’s follow-ups where we spotted them.

We kicked off 2017 by reviewing every Golden Pints post we could get our hands on and using them to put together a To Do list of breweries whose beers we wanted to look out for in the coming months. We’ve added a few new items and links since originally posting.

'Beer Cooperage' -- vintage illustration of beer casks.

When Cloudwater announced its intention to cease producing cask ale it got us talking between ourselves and we wrote that up as a breakfast debate: is it the end of the world, or nothing to worry about? Peter McKerry rounded up every post and article on this much-discussed topic.

Something moved us to write a couple of hundred words about the pleasure of tending the fire in a pub:

We didn’t mind when it cracked like a whip and spat sparks our way — that was all part of the pleasure. Fires and the sea are two things we can stare at for hours, and if an open fire in a pub on a cold day is a joy, one you’ve had a hand in lighting is ten times better again.

Rather to our surprise, people seemed to like it so we will try to be less shy about indulging such observational whimsy in future.

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

Noticing a few posts from brewers on a common theme — the difficulty of making money from cask ale — we rounded them up here. Since posting that, a few more brewers have joined the fun, including Siren, Tiny Rebel and Tempest.

Illustration: a Belgian tripel in the glass.

For the 119th edition of The Session we reflected on beers that made us squirm until we either got used to them, or wrote them off for good:

In each case, the discomfort was worth it, like practising a musical instrument until your fingers hurt, because it opened up options and left us with a wider field of vision.

Alec Latham, the host, has rounded-up of all the Session contributions including some from occasional participants and complete newbies.

Trying to gauge the mood of the UK beer scene we have started keeping a list of good and bad news which we announced with a bit of additional commentary. We’ve added several new items — thanks for the tips, everyone! — and we’re now trying to work out whether to include each individual brewery opening we hear about.

HEADLINE: 'Small Beer Crash'

On a related note, we looked back to the early 1980s and attempted to tell the story of the first big micro-brewery shake-out when the boom that came in the wake of CAMRA ground to a halt.

Twitter poll screengrab (link above).

And one final thought on the same topic came with the results of a Twitter poll in which we asked whether people felt hopeful or otherwise about British beer in 2017. On the whole, people did not seem to be down in the dumps.

(This post prompted Yvan Seth of Jolly Good Beer to attempt a more scientific analysis of UK brewery numbers.)

A man in a Penzance pub.

Why aren’t there more photos of pubs and what goes on in them? And if you want to take photos in the pub what’s the best way to go about it? We attempted to get people using a Twitter hashtag (#PubPhotos) off the back of this which didn’t really work but nothing ventured and so on.

Verdant Headband in the can.

We started a new series of Magical Mystery Pour reviews, this time drinking beers chosen for us by Rebecca Pate:

  • Verdant Headband Pale Ale — ‘The aroma was bright, perky, sweet-shop fruity… The flavour, unfortunately, landed with a clang.’
  • Five Point Pils — ‘People sometimes talk about wine or beer having ‘structure’ and it sounds daft until you taste one that does.’
  • Cloudwater DIPA V.10 — ‘The smell was close to the ideal for an IPA, a jumble of freshly-picked, under-ripe tropical fruit, and mysterious, exotic aromas…’

Adapted from Westmalle by Georgio, from Flickr under Creative Commons.
Adapted from Westmalle by Georgio, from Flickr under Creative Commons.

We shared our A-Team — a list of beers that never disappoint, and which are, for our money, the best in their respective styles.

Playing Devil’s advocate as much as anything we stuck up for Meantime which got in bother for making big claims about its status as the UK’s original craft brewery:

Where others, however innovative or interesting, remained the preserve of geeks, Meantime went mainstream. It was the brewery that, when we first started paying attention to beer, had its bottles in stylish bars and restaurants, showing that beer could dress up and cut it with the cool kids.

Beardo and Mojo beers from Robinson's.
SOURCE: Robinson’s/Beer Today

Robinson’s are not the first established brewery to launch a would-be craft beer with a stereotypical hipster on the label — where did this trend start, and why do breweries do it? (There are some rather narky comments on this one — enjoy!)

Eshald Well Brewery.
‘The Eshald Well Brewery’ SOURCE: The Noted Breweries of Britain and Ireland, Vol 1.

From an 1888 newspaper report we stumbled upon comes a confusing, intriguing account of how one British brewery was making something like lager in pursuit of the business of ‘fastidious palates’:

The latter only requires to be passed through a chip cask and thus obtain the pitchy flavour to serve as an admirable misrepresentation of German Lager. The English Lager has found much favour in high quarters, it is popular in the saloons of passenger steamers, and follows one of the judges about on circuit.

Illustration: Micheal Jackson peers from behind his glasses.

We spent a few hours re-reading a decade’s-worth of old issues of What’s Brewing to come up with a list of everything Michael Jackson wrote for CAMRA between 1977-1988. We hope it’s useful to some researcher out there at some point — it’s certainly already proved useful to us.

Brew By Numbers Table Saison in the glass.

We’ve made a (low-key) resolution to be a bit more disciplined about taking notes on the more unusual beers we taste, to which end here’s a quick review of Brew By Numbers Table Saison 17|07: ‘…we began to revel in the spicy, bitter, tonic spritziness of it all.’

There were also several weekly links round-ups (we missed last week); a 1,400 word email newsletter (sign up!); plenty of Tweets (follow us!); and some Facebook posts, too.

3 replies on “Everything We Wrote in January 2017”

I really like your observational whimsy (and cracking photos) about pub life – keep it up.

Interested in the picture of De Garre ; my favourite beer & pub in Bruges. Not a beer you struggled with, surely ? Apologies if I missed the reference in the article.

Just used here in reference to Tripels in general which we did struggle with early on. Not had De Garre for years but remember finding it quite boozy.

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