News, Nuggets & Longreads 30 December 2017: Helensburgh, Hammers, Home-brewing

The head on a pint of stout from directly above.

Here’s everything that grabbed our attention in the world of beer and pubs in this final week of 2017.

It’s been slim pickings with the Christmas break and the ubiquity of Golden Pints (check out the hashtag on Twitter) but we found a few things to chew on. First, there’s this stream of recollection by Peter McKerry at Brew Geekery which amounts to a tour of pubs that have meant the most to him over the years:

Then it was the Clyde Bar in Helensburgh, a well-healed town on the Clyde coast, during a prolonged period of unemployment in my early 20s. I’d drop in for a few Tennent’s on ‘Giro Day’, and it was here that I witnessed taxi driver and regular, Dermot, rescue eight pence from the trough WHILE I WAS URINATING IN IT. While that event is imprinted onto my mind (it was a 5p, 2p and a 1p), it gives a false impression of the pub. It was a great live music venue, and featured in a video from purveyors of beige jock rock, Travis, if such trivia interests you.


Detail from a Whitbread Tankard beer mat.

At Shut Up About Barclay Perkins Ron Pattinson and Kristen England are once again collaborating on historic home-brewing recipes. This time it’s one that’s very interesting to us — Whitbread Tankard, a keg bitter from the darkest days of the Big Six. Even if you don’t brew yourself, or never intend to brew this particular beer, it’s interesting to see (as with Red Barrel) the relative goodness of the recipe. As Ron says, “It’s what happened to the poor beer next that turned it into crap.”

Vintage illustration: a hammer.

This next piece from the TLS is a couple of weeks old but was brought to our attention yesterday by Martin Steward (blog | Twitter). It is a reflection by the poet Sean O’Brien on his local pub, The Fusilier, on the outskirts of Newcastle, with a particular emphasis on successive attempts to render genteel an establishment that would not bear it:

New landlords came for it to consume, and somewhere along the line a Scouse chef called Karl took up residence near the disused Function Room upstairs. Karl was a film buff, a gun nut, an inexplicable working-class Thatcherite, and always good for a debate. He was also very good at his job, and the Sunday lunches became a feature. Like most pubs now, the Fuse needed to appeal to families. It seemed to be succeeding, until the inevitable intervention of the lads in the bar. Successive landlords had struggled to keep drugs off the premises, but some financial dispute broke out, which resulted in a car load of hooligans armed with hammers driving over the muddy field to stage a confrontation in the doorway, while people were trying to eat their roast lamb.


A carton of IPA.

The usual slew of articles making predictions about beer in 2018 have arrived on schedule and many contain the usual mix of wishful thinking and repetition. (On which, a poem.) But this from VinePair seeks the views of people in the American craft beer industry and elicits some interesting, intelligent answers:

“We’ll see lactose sugars added to more hazy, juicy, New England-style IPAs, and thus the production of more thick and creamy milkshake IPAs, which are made with lactose, oats, vanilla, fruity hop varieties, and high-pectin fruit. Low bitterness and lush citrus and tropical-fruit notes are hallmarks of the hugely popular New England-style IPA, along with a creamy, soft mouthfeel. Lactose is an ingredient that compliments and brings out these components while also adding a pleasant sweetness.” — Erich Carrle, head brewer at Magnify Brewing Company


Fifty-two bottles of beer.

Richard Taylor at The BeerCast has concluded his mission to taste a different Scottish beer every week with notes on Swannay Orkney Imperial Stout. His final list, reproduced at the bottom of this post, looks like a nice shopping list for someone.


Finally, here are some trade secrets courtesy of a member of the brewing team at Fuller’s:

4 thoughts on “News, Nuggets & Longreads 30 December 2017: Helensburgh, Hammers, Home-brewing”

  1. Erich Carrle’s vision of the future sounds absolutely horrific. Bet nobody imagined that IPA would end up basically as an alcoholic ice cream fruit smoothie.

  2. “We’ll see lactose sugars added to more hazy, juicy, New England-style IPAs…”

    Oh, please God, no….

    1. As long as lactose is identified as an ingredient, so that I can avoid it, I don’t mind too much. The list of ingredients – lactose, oats, vanilla, fruity hop varieties, and high-pectin fruit – had me wondering: is there any barley in these milk shake IPAs? Then the thought that the lactose actually “compliments” the other ingredients stopped me in my tracks for a moment; until I realised that the writer meant “complements”.

      The compliments of the season to one and all…

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