Blogging and writing

Everything We Wrote in November 2017: Patreon’s Choice, Cask Magic, Brussels

November 2017 (and the ceiling of a Bristol pub)

Here’s everything we wrote last month in one handy round-up, including bits and pieces published in places other than the blog, and links to responses by other bloggers where we spotted them.

We began the month by raving about a delicious Vienna lager from Zero Degrees in Bristol. When we went back for more a few days later, it had run out. We hope it gets brewed again.

We observed that there seems to have been a flood of porters this autumn and mentioned a few we’d spotted. Earlier this week we noticed that Truman’s also have one out, though it’s not the first year they’ve done so. (Lisa Grimm mentioned this post in her contribution to…)

Session #129 was about missing beer styles, which led us to the conclusion that every beer style under the sun appears to be in product in or near Bristol — what a time to be alive! (Eoghan Walsh’s round-up of all the contributions is here.)

Wetherspoons sign: All Ales £1.69.

Our most-read post of the month, we think, was this piece about Wetherspoon pubs written in the wake of Marina O’Loughlin’s review of the Ramsgate branch for The Times. Check out Eddie’s comment beneath the post for some helpful local context: “This is a town of pop 35k. Now with one pub taking £4m out of the local economy, selling beer and food from outside the area… More fighting back than snobbery.”

We began a series of posts reviewing beers chosen for us by our Patreon subscribers. First up, suggested by Steve Lamond, were a bunch of beers from the venerable Manchester institution Marble: “It’s a brewery that takes risks and does interesting things, whose beers are rarely less than enjoyable, and often brilliant.” The second was bottled Dark Star Hophead which we found “utterly dull — a pan-and-scan VHS, K-Tel edit, plastic imitation”.

With Christmas looming we reviewed Melissa Cole’s Little Book of Craft Beer, a great stocking-filler perfect for those interested but yet to go full beer geek. It’s currently on offer at Amazon for £2.50 — an insane bargain — so grab a copy now.

The wall with the finished mirror.

This was a weird one: we put together a tutorial on how to make your own fancy Victorian pub mirror using Perspex, overhead projector film, and a gold pen.

Someone on Twitter asked us what The World of Brewing museum was all about and where it went so we investigated. Since then we’ve had an email from Ron Goodman who worked on the fit-out in 1980:

To the best of my recollection, the frontage covered the length of two shop-fronts, with a central double-doored entrance, the Museum being behind shop. I was a sub-contractor for suspended ceilings and wall panelling… I made a couple of private visits, after completion to see the finished result.

Rooting through the leftover book research materials from the last couple of years we came across a nice essay by H.E. Bates on the subject of his aunt’s country pub.

We asked if there might be something about the ritual and setting that makes cask ale seem to taste better which in turn prompted a discussion about the ways in which publicans might experiment with cask beer to generate interest and customise the experience.

We leaned a little bit from our position on the fence: we don’t know if minimum unit pricing is a good policy but we do think it’s adoption by the Scottish government has happened as it should in a functional democracy, and don’t think the research behind it has sinister motivations.

The book's map of Chelsea.

The mews pubs of west London, a cliche of pub tourism, turned out to be as great now as they were in 1968 when the guidebook we used to find them was published.

REFRESH YOUR FEEDS we commanded in a post highlighting some lively, interesting blogs we reckon you might not know about. We added a few more in the days that followed and might yet add more. (This quick piece prompted some interesting thoughts from Stan Hieronymus on which voices in beer writing we should be listening to.)

We tried a flat white milk stout that seemed to have been ruined by the canning process. Since posting several people have told us how great the beer is on keg so we’ll certainly give it a go if and when we see it.

After a few days in Brussels — our first foreign holiday together since 2015 — we shared some observations on pub life and the ways of the English tourist: “I got money, bruv — my pockets ain’t shallow. We can have a bottle each.”

Two women with Watney's beers.
A British trade event at the Istanbul Hilton.

Still with Belgium half in mind we shared a gallery of archive pictures of Watney’s, Whitbread and Guinness export operations around the world.

Yesterday we wrapped up the month with a post that seems to have chimed with a lot of people: yes, we understand the struggles of breweries to make profit from cask ale; but, no, consumers can’t afford to pay more for it, or buy more than we already do.

We also managed all but one of our usual Saturday round-ups:

Beyond the Blog

You can read the piece about Proper Job we wrote for Original Gravity magazine online here:

Never less than good, on every other session Proper Job at the Yacht would be positively holy, depending on when the cask had gone on sale and other local variables.

Frits Takken.

The November issue of Devon Life contained our interview with the fascinating Frits Takken, a Dutchman who has lived in the UK since 1978 and is now making Belgian-style beers on the smallest scale. (It’s on page 133.)

If for some reason you want to hear us rather than read us we’re in this edition of the Beer Podcast having spoken to the charming host, Michael Lally, at the Great British Beer Festival.

And, of course, there was the usual slew of odds and sods on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and on our Patreon feed.

20th Century Pub -- want a signed copy for Christmas?