News, Nuggets & Longreads 4 November 2017: McMullen, Maltøl, Martin Luther

Pub skittle alley

Here’s all the writing about beer and pubs that has grabbed us in the last week, from longreads on local breweries to pubs on piers.

First, a pub­lic ser­vice announce­ment from Lars Mar­ius Garshol (Nor­we­gian beer per­son­al­i­ty of the year!) who wants to make sure every­one is using the buzz­word of the day cor­rect­ly:

Kveik is not a style of beer. It means “yeast” or “tra­di­tion­al farm­house yeast,” but def­i­nite­ly not a kind of beer. If you want to say “Nor­we­gian farm­house ale,” with­out ref­er­enc­ing any par­tic­u­lar style, then say maltøl. But beware that that’s a bit like say­ing “Eng­lish beer.” There are sev­er­al very dif­fer­ent styles.


Rivertown Pilsner

In a sub­stan­tial piece of writ­ing with all the flour­ish we have come to expect Alec Lath­am at Most­ly About Beer reflects on the for­tunes of his local big fam­i­ly brew­er, McMullen’s, and how it is react­ing to the 21st cen­tu­ry:

There’s only one pub in St Albans that still sells McMullen’s beer and that’s the Pea­hen on Holy­well Hill… Over the past sev­er­al years, the Vic­to­ri­an brew­er from Hert­ford seemed in retreat. As the pubs closed and the brew­ery had lit­tle to do with the pub­lic, I expect­ed McMullen to depart the brew­ing scene and become a hotel or cater­ing chain… [But in] its labyrinthine cor­ri­dors and out-build­ings, McMullen has sud­den­ly come alive again.


The view from Blackpool's North Pier.

Katie at the Snap and the Hiss has been think­ing about Blackpool’s North Pier and espe­cial­ly the Sun­set Lounge, the pub at its end:

Pro­tect­ed from the sea winds and year-round bad weath­er by per­spex and gloss paint, it’s a huge expanse of a pub, and is near­ly always most­ly emp­ty inside where the darts boards and maroon car­pets are. Despite clear­ly being big enough to host two wed­ding recep­tions simul­ta­ne­ous­ly, there are three toi­lets in the ladies’ bath­room and the last time I was there, none had locks, toi­let paper or a cush­ion for scream­ing into. I have nev­er seen a sin­gle adult in the “pub” part of The Sun­set Lounge.


9 point 5

In ref­er­ence to the 500th anniver­sary of Mar­tin Luther’s 95 The­ses Jeff Alworth at Beer­vana gives us his 9.5 the­ses which, of course, relate specif­i­cal­ly to beer and beer cul­ture, e.g.:

Sub­tle­ty is hard­er to achieve than inten­si­ty.
Peo­ple, par­tic­u­lar­ly peo­ple new to a hob­by, mis­take inten­si­ty for qual­i­ty. When Amer­i­cans first dis­cov­ered good cof­fee, the fash­ion was gnarly roast bit­ter­ness. With wine, it was jam and oak. In beer it was bit­ter­ness, boozi­ness, tartness–anything so long as there was a lot of it. Aes­thet­ic matu­ri­ty arrives when the taster is able to appre­ci­ate the ele­ments of a beer when they don’t over­whelm. Sub­tle­ty lays bare a beer’s ele­ments for those able to iden­ti­fy them. Appre­ci­a­tion of sub­tle­ty, not inten­si­ty, is the high­er achieve­ment.


Waiter serving lager (vintage illustration)

Mark John­son isn’t just fret­ting about the winefi­ca­tion of beer in the abstract – he offers a case study in tak­ing things too far:

Can I get a Dead Pony Club, please?” It was only as the three words came off my tongue that my sur­round­ings, envi­ron­ment and the stu­pid­i­ty of the words I was say­ing real­ly became appar­ent. The serv­er even smirked fleet­ing­ly, the only time all evening they broke from their smart and atten­tive char­ac­ter. “Of course.” … Any time I reached for the bot­tle, a serv­er would appear from nowhere, shak­ing their hands before return­ing one to their back whilst the oth­er poured from a cloth laden arm with a neat bow. Brewdog’s Dead Pony Club – served like a 1947 Cheval Blanc.  I couldn’t enjoy it.

Ad for the Fuller's/Hardknott beer launch.

Dave Bai­ley, own­er and head brew­er at Hard­knott, offers some insight into the process of col­lab­o­rat­ing with Fuller’s which is inter­est­ing in its own right (we always love a tale of brew­ers vs. mar­ket­ing) but the real meat here is in the typ­i­cal­ly frank foot­notes:

Con­trary to what some peo­ple like to claim, the beer indus­try is incred­i­bly com­pet­i­tive. I am often encour­aged to work togeth­er for com­mon aims with­in the beer indus­try, and then get heav­i­ly shaft­ed by the very peo­ple who I am asked to work with. We are not all friends, and make no mis­take, big busi­ness­es worth many mil­lions of pounds, with direc­tors on healthy salaries are reg­u­lar­ly piss­ing on my bon­fire.

This month’s edi­tion of the Ses­sion on ‘miss­ing local beer styles’ prompt­ed some fas­ci­nat­ing entries. First, a con­tri­bu­tion by the host, Eoghan Walsh, offers a his­tor­i­cal overview of the place of Pils in the beer cul­ture of Brus­sels:

[It] is not blas­phe­my to say that Brus­sels is just as much a pils town as it is a Geuze town. The only dif­fer­ence is, Brus­sels pils has not had its pros­e­ly­tis­ers and pil­grim­ages from abroad to keep it alive despite its rich his­to­ry.

(Spoil­er alert: Watney’s didn’t just screw up British beer – they made a mess in Bel­gium, too.)

On the same top­ic Andreas Kren­mair, an Aus­tri­an based in Berlin, makes a plea for (a) more cask ale and (b) the return of a for­got­ten style – Berlin­er Braun­bier.


The Festival Inn, Poplar.

Pub her­itage news: The Fes­ti­val Inn, the first per­ma­nent pub in the mod­ern style built after World War II, has been list­ed (pro­tect­ed) by His­toric Eng­land.


There were lots of great Tweets about this week but, to wrap up, here’s one that we par­tic­u­lar­ly enjoyed, not least for the pres­ence of all those wild Li’l Sebas­tians:

One thought on “News, Nuggets & Longreads 4 November 2017: McMullen, Maltøl, Martin Luther”

  1. Lars is cor­rect, of course, but I fear telling peo­ple kveik is the yeast not the beer will be as effec­tive as was telling them gruit is the herb and spice mix­ture not the beer.

Comments are closed.