News, Nuggets & Longreads 22 July 2017: Quality, Icebergs, Cheesecloth

The back shelf of a pub loaded with lego minifigures.

Here’s everything in the world of beer and pubs that’s caught our eye in the last week, from beer quality to iceberg water.

A debate about beer qual­i­ty has flared up in New Zealand prompt­ed by this piece by vet­er­an beer writer Geoff Grig­gs in which he sug­gests there is too much faulty self-pro­claimed craft beer on the mar­ket. It’s an inter­est­ing piece in its own right – ‘Peo­ple aren’t look­ing for qual­i­ty beer, as long as it isn’t s…, and you have super sweet pack­ag­ing and an even bet­ter sto­ry you will sell heaps.’ – but this response from Jason Gur­ney at Brewhui is arguably more so. In it, while sug­gest­ing that Grig­gs is wrong to have made such a sweep­ing state­ment at this stage, he pro­pos­es some con­crete, con­struc­tive actions for improv­ing beer qual­i­ty over­all, e.g.

We need to facil­i­tate an audit sys­tem regard­ing brew­ing, pack­ag­ing and dis­tri­b­u­tion mod­els. If a brew­ery is hav­ing an issue with beer qual­i­ty, then it’s fea­si­ble that this issue is caused by a sys­tem­at­ic prob­lem with the way they are brew­ing, pack­ag­ing, and/or dis­trib­ut­ing their beer.  There’s noth­ing like doc­u­ment­ing each step of your process for iden­ti­fy­ing where things can be done bet­ter – and as such, the Brewer’s Guild need to facil­i­tate an audit sys­tem that is easy to access and actu­al­ly valu­able from the per­spec­tive of the brew­ery.  I would sug­gest that inter­na­tion­al, inde­pen­dent advi­sors could again be use­ful here – but it’s also pos­si­ble that a nation­al peer-review sys­tem could be effec­tive too.  It real­ly depends on how much we tru­ly believe in the col­le­gial­i­ty of the brew­ing com­mu­ni­ty.

That’s an inter­est­ing idea, as are the oth­ers – but which body could admin­is­ter some­thing like this in the UK? Sure­ly not the cur­rent­ly under fire SIBA.


A London pub glimpsed up an alleyway.

After the slight­ly con­tro­ver­sial inclu­sion of Mari­na O’Lough­lin’s ‘I don’t like pubs’ piece last week, here’s anoth­er, by Jes­si­ca Brown for Lon­greads, which reach­es a sim­i­lar con­clu­sion, but via a more pos­i­tive, thought­ful, lit­er­al­ly mean­der­ing route:

I won­dered if the Britons’ third place could be pubs… The pub seems to be a per­fect fit; at least, it does when you’re look­ing through the lens of nos­tal­gia, as one can eas­i­ly do when under the alien sky­scrap­ers and mys­ti­cal spell of the city… But recent­ly there’s been a decline in the num­ber of pubs, and the ones that remain are strug­gling to sur­vive. Part­ly to blame is a shift from the tra­di­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty pub of locals to strangers’ cock­tail bars and pop-ups — a new kind of plague on the city.


Josh Noel writes about beer for the Chica­go Tri­bune and is try­ing out a new for­mat: a sim­ple report of a crawl around a sin­gle neigh­bour­hood in one evening. His first ram­ble was around Pilsen which sounds fas­ci­nat­ing:

As recent­ly as nine months ago, Pilsen had no tap­rooms or brew­pubs. In the midst of a food and drink upris­ing — some call it gen­tri­fi­ca­tion — Pilsen, a home to Mex­i­can immi­gra­tion since the 1950s, sud­den­ly has three.


Quidi Vidi Brewing, Newfoundland.

Rebec­ca Pate, a Cana­di­an based in the UK, made a vis­it home recent­ly and reports on a trou­bled New­found­land brew­ery that uses an unusu­al ingre­di­ent in its flag­ship beer:

The brew­ery has an ice­berg har­vester con­tract­ed to extract ice­berg water, a dan­ger­ous process involv­ing cranes and grap­pling hooks. An unfor­tu­nate effect of cli­mate change means that Ice­berg Alley, a col­lo­qui­al term used for the eco­zone that stretch­es from Green­land to New­found­land, is replete with ice­bergs tra­vers­ing the waters. Some have been vis­i­ble from St John’s har­bour, accord­ing to the locals.


Beer being poured through a cheesecloth.

Patrick Daw­son, who lit­er­al­ly wrote the book on age­ing beer, recounts his expe­ri­ence of drink­ing Vic­to­ri­an beers from crust­ed bot­tles for Craft Beer & Brew­ing:

The beer had to be poured through a piece of cheese­cloth to strain out crum­bled bits of ancient cork. After 15 min­utes and four dif­fer­ent corkscrews, it became appar­ent that hold­ing back 10 per­cent ABV beer for more than 145 years had been too much for the aged stop­per. This bot­tle of the vaunt­ed Rat­cliff Ale, a bar­ley­wine brewed by Bass in 1869, just four short years after the end of the Amer­i­can Civ­il War, must have had an Enci­no Man-moment being poured out into this rad­i­cal­ly changed world.


And, final­ly, pub pho­to of the week must sure­ly be this piece of misty, mourn­ful roman­ti­cism from 1960 (via @JamesBSumner):

One thought on “News, Nuggets & Longreads 22 July 2017: Quality, Icebergs, Cheesecloth”

  1. Whilst it is true that the num­ber of pubs is declin­ing could I sug­gest that ‘the ones that remain are strug­gling to sur­vive.’ is per­haps a lit­tle strong and some empha­sis on tra­di­tion­al pubs that are suc­cess­ful might be over­due. Our expe­ri­ence at The Mar­ble Arch could be unique but I doubt it. The emer­gence of a new, younger beer scene with bril­liant venues in Man­ches­ter has giv­en us food for thought, pro­vid­ed inspi­ra­tional ideas & helped re-ener­gise us. We don’t feel like we’re strug­gling, we feel like we’re part of a vibrant beer city that has room for many types of estab­lish­ment.

Comments are closed.