News, Nuggets & Longreads 11 November 2017: Morrison’s, Magic Lanterns, Mental Health

The Hollybush, a country pub, after dark.

Here’s all the news, opinion and pondering on pubs and beer that’s seized our attention in the last week, from old London pubs to Mishing rice beer.

First up, from Richard Coldwell at Beer Leeds, what we think counts as a scoop: a branch of the Morrison’s supermarket near him has installed a cask ale line in its cafe. Supermarket cafes are one down the rung from Wetherspoon pubs in terms of hipness but are, at the same time, extremely popular, offering competitively priced, unpretentious meals. Adding draught beer to the mix is an interesting if unexpected move. “I wonder how long it will take before a supermarket café gets in the Good Beer Guide?” Richard asks.


Pub interior.
The Widow’s Son, Bow.

The always absorbing Spitalfields Life has another huge gallery of archive photographs of London pubs, this time sourced from a newly digitised collection of glass slides once used to give ‘magic lantern shows’ at the Bishopsgate Institute.


The Hop Locker pop-up bar at Waterloo.

Emma at Crema’s Beer Odyssey has been working behind bars in an effort to plug a niggling gap in her knowledge and experience. One result is a blog post which gives us 13 insights into the strange behaviour of drinkers:

Northerners can’t drink halves

“Neck Oil please”
“Is that a pint or a half?”
*incredulous splutter*
“A half? Northerners can’t drink halves!”
“That’s not true. You can drink whatever you want.”
“Nah. Can’t drink halves!”
“Ok.”


A rice beer container in a field.
An Apong rice wine container. (By Ezralsim10 via Wikimedia Commons.)

Jordan at Timely Tipple has been researching the rice beers of the Mishing people of the Assam region of North East India and provides a fascinating overview of his findings:

To brew, the Mishing prepare their yeast cakes called Apop pitha. To do so, anywhere between 16 to 39 different plants, herbs, and twigs are gathered and cleaned along a bamboo mat. These can either be used immediately after or sun dried for later use.  Then, soaked rice and the gathered plants are ground separately, then combined with a bit of water to form a dough. This dough is then shaped into ovule-like balls of about 3 cm x 6 cm and are then dried under the sun.


From Luke Robertson at Good Beer Hunting comes a long piece on mental health in the beer industry — a great example of the kind of honesty people say they want in beer writing, with multiple people telling tales of envy, despair and exhaustion, triggered not least by the requirement to stay permanently upbeat for social media:

“I’ve had a few breakdowns recently because I just feel worthless,” [Jessie] says. “I feel like nothing I do is good enough. Sometimes I have these moments where I think everyone’s fake and no one really likes me, and it’s hard. I love this. I love what I do, no matter what, and I’m thankful I have that determination, but it sucks sometimes.”


Big brewery takeover news: Trou du diable of Quebec, Canada, has been taken over by Molson Coors. (Via @TheThirstyWench)


Brewing in unexpected places: Jesus College, Cambridge, is recruiting for an assistant brewer to help run its ‘exciting new micro-brewery’.


Finally, via Twitter, a brewery that is in itself a work of art:

4 thoughts on “News, Nuggets & Longreads 11 November 2017: Morrison’s, Magic Lanterns, Mental Health”

  1. I went to Jesus College, Cambridge, time back way back. A couple of years ago I spent the night there – alumni/ae can book rooms at hotel rates – and felt so at home it was unreal. I felt far more at home than I had when I was there; if anything I felt more at home than I do when I’m at home.

    So that’s the job for me, if I didn’t have a life up here. Oh, and if I knew anything about brewing – they probably aren’t looking for someone who doesn’t know a wort hopper from a mash shovel. Ah well.

    1. Blimey – Previous experience of supervising a busy bar is essential, and they’re offering £20K? In the south-east? Tight gets. I guess they’re hoping to recruit a recent graduate who’s been doing bar work for buttons – even so, they won’t be keeping them for very long on that money.

  2. The Luke Robertson article is very good. Being in a pressure job with law and growing up in a house with my Dad in what consider a bigger pressure of being a Protestant minister I always thought being in beer would be tougher. So when folk years ago would ask why I didn’t start a small brewery saying that I knew a lot about beer, even having set up aspects of the legal side for some, I was very clear that it would be too much. Warned a few friends off as well. I have great respect and sympathy for those who go into it even if I think the trade is a meat grinder in many respects.

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