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 thoughts on “Everything We Wrote in January 2017”

  1. 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.

    1. 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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