News, Nuggets & Longreads 25 February 2017: Babylon, Oldham, Cologne

Here’s everything that grabbed our attention in the world of beer- and pub-writing in the last week, from memories of a glamorous landlady to, yet again, the question of sexism in beer.

It’s true: when any archive releas­es a new batch of dig­i­tal con­tent, pub­lic domain or oth­er­wise, it is a beer blog­ger’s duty to search that col­lec­tion for ‘BEER’. That’s how Alan Mcleod came across a Bably­lon­ian cuneiform tablet from the 1st Mil­le­ni­um BC con­tain­ing infor­ma­tion on beer:

How is it that I can read a Mesopotami­an clay tablet and pret­ty much imme­di­ate­ly under­stand what is going on? If it was about reli­gion, gov­er­nance or astron­o­my I wouldn’t have a clue. But beer and brew­ing are not strange. They are, in a very mean­ing­ful way, con­stant. You can see that if we go back to col­umn 2 where you see words for 1:1 beer, 2:1 beer, 3:1 beer and even triple beer. The ratio is the rela­tion­ship of grain input to beer out­put.


Public Bar etched on a Manchester pub window.

For the Guardian Rachel Rod­dy uses a recipe for cheese and onion pie as an oppor­tu­ni­ty to rem­i­nisce about a child­hood spent in and around an Old­ham pub:

A good slice of my child­hood was spent at my granny’s pub, The Gar­den­ers Arms: a large, red-brick Robinson’s pub at the bot­tom of Durham street… I remem­ber her both in her house­coat buff­ing the brass tables and flush­ing out the pipes – good bit­ter comes from a clean cel­lar and clean pipes – then, lat­er, when reg­u­lars had tak­en their place, com­ing down the stairs ready for the night. ‘You look a mil­lion dol­lars Al,’ my grand­pa Ger­ry would say, Bob Seger curl­ing out of the juke box in agree­ment: ‘She was look­ing so right, in her dia­monds and frills…’

(Via @phil55494)


Fuller's Vintage Ale 2016.

Mar­tyn Cor­nell wants to know where the hell all the 2016 Fuller’s Vin­tage Ale has gone:

Fuller’s is being tight-lipped about why the 2016 is now impos­si­ble to find: there are rumours that some­thing went ter­ri­bly wrong with the pack­ag­ing, but no one seems will­ing to say. It’s a great pity, because the 20th iter­a­tion of Vin­tage Ale since it was first brewed in 1997, is a love­ly, love­ly beer, already, at approach­ing a year old, deep and remark­able.


Shipping container: KOLN.

Barm has been in Cologne and paints a won­der­ful­ly evoca­tive pic­ture of a busy ses­sion at a pub with a cult rep­u­ta­tion:

When we arrive at 1620 there are already 60 peo­ple wait­ing for the pub to open at 1630. By the time the doors open the crowd has swollen to 80 or more. Thir­ty sec­onds after the doors open, every seat inside is tak­en… Because there is no choice, the beer pours con­stant­ly, nev­er becom­ing flat or warm. One wait­er is ded­i­cat­ed to pour­ing beer. Clack-clack-clack go the small glass­es as he rotates the round tray under­neath the tap.


An example of the iceman pour.

We’ve been ignor­ing the so-called ‘Ice­man Pour’ – a weird trend among a small group of drinkers on social media that has some beer folk growl­ing with irri­ta­tion – but we could­n’t resist Richard Tay­lor’s attempt to explain its ori­gins and appeal:

Users like theiceman13 and benhur345 love noth­ing more than run­ning out of room in their glass­ware, push­ing the lim­its of flu­id dynam­ics by leav­ing a gen­tly con­vex beer sur­face cling­ing to the tops of their Tekus. The rest of us look on in bemused won­der think­ing that in our day some­thing hand­ed over like that would result in a trip back to the bar for it to be be-frothed once again. Although when the menis­cus is wob­bling like a week-old jel­ly it takes some skill to take the glass any­where with­out it drib­bling down the sides. As I dis­cov­ered for myself.

After all, if in 50 years time we’re all drink­ing our beer this way, Richard’s blog post might end up being an impor­tant his­tor­i­cal doc­u­ment.


Wetherspoons sign: All Ales £1.69.

If you’ve been try­ing to find an excuse to wrig­gle out of boy­cotting Wether­spoon pubs over CEO Tim Mar­t­in’s vocal sup­port for Brex­it Hen­ry Jef­frey’s has you cov­ered in an arti­cle for The Spec­ta­tor:

This seemed to me the def­i­n­i­tion of cut­ting your nose off to spite your face; imag­ine turn­ing down cheap beer because of the EU! But it also dis­rupts one of the fun­da­men­tals of a lib­er­al soci­ety: that you do busi­ness even with those whom you dis­agree. Voltaire mar­velled at this con­cept on his vis­it to the Lon­don Stock Exchange: ‘Here Jew, Mohammedan and Chris­t­ian deal with each oth­er as though they were all of the same faith, and only apply the word infi­del to peo­ple who go bank­rupt.’


There’s been a fresh flur­ry of arti­cles about sex­ism in beer late­ly but John Holl, edi­tor All About Beer, is doing more than mere­ly talk about the issue:

We will not be qui­et about this impor­tant issue. We want to do our part so that the next gen­er­a­tion of beer drinkers can focus on the fun, the fla­vor­ful and the future. Beers that demean women or pro­mote rape cul­ture will not be reviewed or pro­mot­ed in this mag­a­zine or on AllAboutBeer.com.

A lot of angry com­ments fol­low the arti­cle – ‘Take this left­ist PC garbage and shove it.’ – and it is pos­si­ble All About Beer will lose some read­ers and sub­scribers over this. But maybe it’ll gain some too.

(DISCLOSURE: We are occa­sion­al­ly paid to write for AAB.)


Green Bottles Standing on a Wall

Not hap­py about UK craft brew­eries switch­ing over from 500ml pack­ag­ing to 330ml? It’s only going to get worse, said Ed. And then, as if on cue, Weird Beard made an announce­ment


And, final­ly, here’s an inter­est­ing nugget of news:

4 thoughts on “News, Nuggets & Longreads 25 February 2017: Babylon, Oldham, Cologne”

  1. Weird Beard switch­ing to 330 ml is a bit of a non-sto­ry. AFAIK, the only core beers they pro­duce that were avail­able in 500 ml bot­tles were Dark Hopfler, Sai­son 14 and Lit­tle Things That Kill.

  2. Vin­tage ale is a non-sto­ry also. He pro­vid­ed no sources for that rumour and there was plen­ty of press cov­er­age dur­ing 2016 about the prices of the old­er vin­tages. It’s almost as if a lim­it­ed resource would run out faster after more peo­ple saw it adver­tised…

  3. 30 years ago vis­it­ing fam­i­ly in Scot­land all the non­ic pints I grate­ful­ly received across a bar were to the rim. My father, lat­er in life a Pres­by­ter­ian min­is­ter, told me that in an ear­li­er rougher time in his life if there was half an inch of space the pint might be cause to remind the bar­tender that the next short pour would be chucked back at him.

  4. Not only is the spread of 330 ml bot­tles unwel­come, in my view, it’s a great pity that pint (or 568 ml) bot­tles seem to have dis­ap­peared com­plete­ly as far as UK brew­eries are con­cerned. The iron­ic thing is that you can find pint tins of East­ern Euro­pean lager in many Pol­ish and Baltic shops in the UK – often described as a “pin­ta”. These are gen­uine 568 ml pints, rather than the 500 ml mea­sure which is often described as a “pint” in Paris, for exam­ple.

    On anoth­er top­ic, your ref­er­ence to Tim Mar­tin reminds me that I must raise a pint to cel­e­brate his stance on Brex­it…

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