Everything We Wrote in October 2017: Painted Pubs, Plum Porter, Poetry

Header: beer tanks at Zero Degrees.

We didn’t manage quite so many posts this month as in September but that’s partly because we spent quite a bit of what is usually blogging time, before breakfast and after work, writing articles for (ker-ching) cash money.

We start­ed the month off with a guest post on anoth­er blog, Munic­i­pal Dreams, about estate pubs:

The lack of pubs on estates in the first part of the 20th cen­tu­ry was often a direct result of the tem­per­ance instinct: pubs were of the slum and if peo­ple were to be res­cued from that envi­ron­ment and cul­ture, the dri­er the sanc­tu­ary the bet­ter. That debate con­tin­ued in the peri­od after World War II with seri­ous con­sid­er­a­tion giv­en to nation­al­is­ing any pubs to be built in new towns and a deter­mined lob­by that thought build­ing any pubs at all was on par with pro­vid­ing, say, coun­cil-spon­sored opi­um dens.


Our sec­ond post of the month about what The Local actu­al­ly means in rela­tion to pubs gen­er­at­ed a huge amount of dis­cus­sion on Twit­ter (1 | 2) – or, rather, inten­si­fied a dis­cus­sion that was already under­way.


The front of the pub.

This mon­th’s big fea­ture post – a lot of work and a lot of words – was a pro­file of the eccen­tric pub design­er Rod­er­ick Gra­didge:

As he got old­er he did not set­tle into respectabil­i­ty, even though his active involve­ment with the Catholic Church inten­si­fied. He began to get tat­toos long before that was the kind of thing respectable peo­ple did until they were all over his body, includ­ing a drag­on that cov­ered most of his back. Lat­er on he grew his grey hair long and wore it in a pony­tail. And, once the Ted­dy boy phase had passed, he start­ed to have all his suits made with both trousers and ‘sko­rts’ – plain kilts of his own design. That last habit earned him a nick­name, the Kilt­ed Cru­sad­er.

This one was made pos­si­ble by our Patre­on sub­scribers whose sup­port jus­ti­fied spend­ing a cou­ple of extra hours spent scan­ning and for­ag­ing in online archives. Thanks again, folks!


We tast­ed the last of the Mag­i­cal Mys­tery Pour Beers cho­sen for us by Rach Smith, Gun Brew­ery Zamza­ma IPA, and loved it:

We were delight­ed by how clean it tast­ed — no stal­e­ness, no card­board, not a wheel­bar­row full of mud­dy onions, just a lot of Jaf­fa Cake jel­ly and jam, bal­anced by a rye bread bit­ter­ness in the back­ground. Cans can be a lot­tery but this time it worked.


Book cover: One for the Road

A cou­ple of books about pubs and beer from our out­side the beer writ­ing bub­ble came to our atten­tion and were suf­fi­cient­ly inter­est­ing to prompt us to write a review.


Collage: The Old Fox.

On our trav­els we stum­bled across a derelict pub called The Old Fox whose name rang a bell. Then we remem­bered: this was CAM­RA’s out­post in Bris­tol back in the 1970s. So we went back, took some pho­tos, and had a dig in the news­pa­per archives.


It struck us that there were sud­den­ly grape­fruit beers every­where, not only in the far reach­es of Crafto­nia, although one of those we encoun­tered came with a twist…


In the first of a new series we gave a shout out to the beer and pubs col­lec­tion at New­cas­tle City Library:

The real star of the show… is a huge scrap­book of news­pa­per clip­pings and leaflets. Archivists right­ly protest when peo­ple claim to have ‘unearthed’ some­thing which they, the librar­i­ans, found, bound and cat­a­logued years ago, and this col­lec­tion is a great exam­ple of their work. It con­tains ear­ly Tyne­side CAMRA leaflets, for exam­ple — the kind of thing that most peo­ple threw away or lost when their guid­ance ceased to be use­ful but that some­one thought to keep and pre­serve.


Thomas Hardy in profile on the neck of our 1986 beer bottle.

A debate about the vol­ume of a ‘Nip’ led us down an ety­mo­log­i­cal worm­hole and intro­duced a new word into our vocab­u­lary: the Nip­perkin. (Des de Moor had a crack at a relat­ed sub­ject cre­at­ing what is sure to be a use­ful ref­er­ence in future.)


Dockside scene with huge Guinness tanks.
The Plu­to unload­ing in Bris­tol c.1966.

Accord­ing to a 1966 edi­tion of the Guin­ness in-house mag­a­zine Guin­ness Time Bris­tol was the first place in Eng­land to get a reg­u­lar sup­ply of the famous porter as far back as 1819 and in the 20th cen­tu­ry Bris­tol remained an impor­tant cen­tre for the import­ing of Guin­ness from Ire­land. We shared some pho­tos and nuggets.


You know that pub that’s a bit like a branch of Wether­spoon but… isn’t? It’s prob­a­bly owned by Stonegate. At one of our local Stonegate pubs we had a mixed expe­ri­ence – a decent Sus­sex Best paired with an ESB that was (sign) “meant to be like that”.


The cover of the Beer Map of Great Britain, 1970s.

This was great fun: we out­lined our approach to respond­ing to requests for pub rec­om­men­da­tions (TL;DR – give a straight answer, don’t be over-com­pli­cate it) which gen­er­at­ed some great to-the-point advice on drink­ing around the UK, Ire­land and else­where in Europe. We are going to try to find time to turn this into some sort of print­able hand­out that will fit in the aver­age wal­let, hand­bag or ruck­sack.


COLLAGE: Painted Pubs of Bristol

Fas­ci­nat­ed by the paint­ed pubs of Bris­tol – it’s a Thing here – we took some pho­tos of some and put togeth­er a gallery. Since we post­ed this, the Gold­en Lion has been fin­ished.


The sto­ry of the pro­to-CAM­RA beer soci­ety The Ring rather fell into our laps when we got an email from Sue Hart, one of its cur­rent core mem­bers:

The Ring was found­ed in Octo­ber 1960 by two broth­ers, both Oxford grad­u­ates… Clive and Tony Chester, were charis­mat­ic chaps, both obsessed with the Young’s pubs in and around Lon­don… It was Tony, AKA The Deputy, who did most of the research into The Ring’s famous pub crawls… He was a real whizz with num­bers and often his Ring sheets would con­tain lots of math­e­mat­i­cal rid­dles, or some­times ref­er­ences to foot­ball teams. He would also try and get a singing spot in the right sort of pub. Giv­en that he looked like a tramp with a piece of string hold­ing his coat togeth­er it was quite a sight, but he usu­al­ly got a round of applause as he knew all the old songs.


Titan­ic Plum Porter is a rare treat for us and we were pleased to find some in Bris­tol last week. “It divides opin­ion,” we said; “nNo it does­n’t, every­one loves it!” some peo­ple replied; “Ugh – I don’t!” said some oth­ers. (Titan­ic chipped in Twit­ter to respond to our sug­ges­tion, backed up by oth­ers, that it might be a vari­able prod­uct.)


Exterior of the Cardinal's Hat.

Yes­ter­day we post­ed a ton of pic­tures of pubs from Wat­ney Mann in-house mag­a­zines from 1964, some more inter­est­ing than oth­ers, and a sur­pris­ing num­ber still trad­ing.


We also post­ed our usu­al week­ly round-ups of news and inter­est­ing read­ing – such a joy to com­pile ear­ly on Sat­ur­day before the sun has risen…


We were busy on Twit­ter post­ing pic­tures from pubs in Bris­tol, West­on super Mare and var­i­ous oth­er places, as well as stuff like this:

There was also plen­ty of stuff on Face­book and Insta­gram. Give us a fol­low on all or any of those chan­nels.


Our month­ly newslet­ter of 1,000+ words went had thoughts on free­bies for blog­gers, Bris­tol Beer Week, and oth­er top­ics – sign up here to make sure you don’t miss the next one!


Detail from the cover of BEER magazine.

Beyond the blog and our own social media we have two arti­cles in the lat­est edi­tion of CAM­RA’s BEER mag­a­zine – one on Brits obsessed with Bel­gian beer and anoth­er on brew­pubs and ‘The The­atre of Beer’. Mem­bers will have access online if they haven’t received a copy in the post; the rest of you will need to scrounge a copy at your local real ale pub.