Here’s everything that grabbed our attention in the world of beer and pub writing in the past week, from World’s Fairs to Beer Miles.
First, there’s been a bubbling discussion about sexism in beer for the last month or two, prompted by a series of individual incidents and issues, which Kate Wiles has summarised in this widely-shared article:
Sexist beer labels may not be as prevalent as they used to be – but not a week goes by without an example cropping up on social media. The most recent example of “Deepthroat” beer clearly indicates fellatio on the label. Another, Irishtown Brewing, boasts the tagline “Dublin blonde goes down easy”. These examples are both demeaning and degrading to women. Furthermore, they reinforce the stereotype that beer is a “man’s drink” and that women have no right to it.
Her call is for stronger sanctions against offenders from within the industry itself: “Beers that are demeaning to women should not win awards, receive accreditation or be able to use industry logos.” We’re going to have to ponder that a bit but instinctively think it feels quite reasonable — not government censorship, about which people are understandably squeamish, but a setting out of standards amongst peers.
Gary Gillman continues to mine the archives for interesting titbits. In the last week he has highlighted two especially juicy items:
- An 1850 catalogue from an English brewer which contains a detailed run down of the beer styles of the day — an astonishingly clear, helpful guide to what people were actually drinking then, and how those types related to each other.
- Details of the faux-English pub at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York City — a topic that we’ve been meaning to get round to ourselves at some point, fascinated as we are by the UK beer industry’s push to export the pub concept worldwide in the 1960s and 70s.
Phil at Oh Good Ale has tasted a ton of double/foreign/imperial stouts asking himself the now traditional question: are they better than the readily available and fairly cheap Guinness Foreign Extra? In his view, several are, which might inform our next shopping spree, and we particularly enjoyed this observation of one of the duds: “As I’ve said about strong pale beers before now, this tasted like a well-made mid-strength beer that had had a glass of tequila tipped into it.”
Draft magazine Kate Bernot considers beer mixing — is it rude, or just a bit of fun? This particularly grabbed our attention because we’ve just written something substantial on the subject for CAMRA’s BEER magazine, which article should appear next year. We were a bit startled to see that Ms. Bernot’s article includes a quote from Ron Pattinson suggesting that “young people with beards who drink craft beer, they don’t mind drinking a beer that looks like orange juice but they’d never dream of mixing their beers”, because if our social media bubble is anything to go by, they very much do.
It’s a sign of some kind that when we saw the Beer Nut had written a review of the Bermondsey Beer Mile we were actually interested. As he joked himself it’s very much a 2015 blog post except that the Beer Mile, once the Big Buzz, has fallen out of favour, or at least off the front pages, and so we were intrigued to know what this most acute of observers might find there in 2017:
I had heard that the Bermondsey Beer Mile had become quite self-aware and was more about professionally-run bars than simple taprooms these days, but the reality was that things still felt more charmingly improvised than I was led to believe. Anspach & Hobday is tiny, a handful of tables crammed in next to the tanks, and a miniature bar serving eight keg beers from the underback, plus one cask beer engine.
Industry news: Pioneering UK importers and distributors Beer Merchants (AKA Cave Direct — see Brew Britannia pp.109-110) is crossing an important boundary by opening its own pub in a former industrial building in Hacnkey, east London. They’re calling it a “taproom, bottleshop and blendery” and the question we’ve been asked most so far is, “What the heck is a blendery?” Matt Curtis provides more details here but the gist is that they’ll be mimicking Belgian firms such as Hanssen’s which brew nothing themselves but instead buy raw lambic beers in bulk and mix them to produce products that go out under their own label — quite traditional, but with the potential to come across as faintly underhand in Britain where this kind of thing isn’t much done.
Fake news: A Twitter account purporting to be the official voice of the Wetherspoon pub chain usually confines itself to trolling customers trying to complain about cold peas or broken toilet seats. This week, though, it waded into the always (and increasingly) fraught issue of remembrance poppies, suggesting in a Tweet that Wetherspoon staff would be forbidden from wearing them. This prompted fury from people who get furious about this kind of thing and, eventually, an irritated statement from JDW itself. Hoax-busting website Snopes has a brief, plain-speaking breakdown. The account has apparently since been suspended.
Publishing news: Lars Marius Garshol, who has done so much to illuminate the world of farmhouse brewing in Scandinavia and the Baltic region through his blog, is finally going to write a book in English. It will be published by Brewers’s publications which specialises in pop-technical manuals such as Stan Hieronymus’s Brew Like a Monk and Mitch Steele’s IPA. We’re a bit excited about this one.
And, finally, here’s a lovely glimpse into the creative process behind a rather pretty beer label: