News, Nuggets & Longreads 9 December 2017: SIBA, Spitfire, Shaving Foam

The Bull Inn, Totnes

There’s everything in beer and pubs that grabbed our attention in the past week from the ethics of milk production to fake restaurants.

Let’s get actu­al news out of the way before we get into the fun stuff. First, as has rumoured for a while, Norwich’s Red­well Brew­ery has been strug­gling and for­mal­ly went into admin­is­tra­tion on Mon­day last. But – good news for those fac­ing redun­dan­cy in the run up to Christ­mas – it has now been acquired by a group of sav­iour investors. Doug Faulkn­er at the East­ern Dai­ly Press broke the sto­ry here.

SIBA, the body that rep­re­sents (some) small brew­ers (with increas­ing con­tro­ver­sy) has acquired a major­i­ty stake in cask ale dis­tri­b­u­tion com­pa­ny Fly­ing Firkin. This fur­ther mud­dies the waters around SIBA’s role – isn’t it these days a pri­mar­i­ly com­mer­cial oper­a­tion in com­pe­ti­tion with its own mem­bers? Their respons­es to that and oth­er ques­tions are here, in a PDF.(Via the Brew­ers Jour­nal.)

The Cam­paign for Real Ale (CAMRA) will have a new nation­al chair from April next year as the forth­right Col­in Valen­tine hands over con­trol to Jack­ie Park­er, the cur­rent vice-chair. (Via Beer Today.)

Detail from the poster for the 2017 Pigs Ear festival.

Also sort of news, we guess: Rebec­ca Pate has ded­i­cat­ed her­self to review­ing  beer fes­ti­vals and events this year and her notes on the East Lon­don CAMRA Pig’s Ear fes­ti­val are just about still top­i­cal as it runs until 23:00 tonight: “[As] a show­case of a huge amount of excel­lent and inter­est­ing cask beers, Pigs Ear demon­strat­ed that cask events can achieve a great atmos­phere with lim­it­ed fuss, pro­vid­ed that the beer selec­tion is worth­while.”

Shelves at the LCBO

The always thought­ful Cana­di­an writer Jor­dan St. John has turned his atten­tion to the clas­sic British ales avail­able through out­lets of the Liquor Con­trol Board of Ontario (LCBO). Gen­er­al­ly a blow-by-blow review of a hand­ful of main­stream canned bit­ters wouldn’t be the most like­ly can­di­date for inclu­sion here but it’s fas­ci­nat­ing to have an outsider’s per­spec­tive on Eng­lish beer, and he does turn a nice phrase:

Revis­it­ing Great Britain for pur­pose, I’m struck by one thing: Of a small num­ber of beers that are avail­able, many of them are caught up in the mil­i­tary sym­bol­ism of the past. Is this just a sym­bol of ex-Empire? If Amer­i­ca lasts long enough will there be a Bradley Tank Amber Ale and an F-35 IPA? I appre­ci­ate that the Bat­tle of Britain is with­in liv­ing mem­o­ry, but that brew­ing should seem to be so bound up in the mil­i­tary tra­di­tion seems odd. If Britain sur­vives Brex­it, per­haps there will be an Absolute Boy Bit­ter.


Mark John­son seems to have unblocked a block­age if the recent run of posts at Beer Com­pur­ga­tion are any­thing to go by. The one that par­tic­u­lar­ly caught our atten­tion, post­ed yes­ter­day, was this piece on the prag­ma­tism of eth­i­cal con­sump­tion:

I’ll nev­er buy Brix­ton again” until the choice on the bar is between Brix­ton IPA and Car­ling. I guar­an­tee [vocal crit­ics of buy-outs] will not be turn­ing around back out the door and refus­ing to buy any­thing. It’s just when the choice is between that Brix­ton beer and, say, any oth­er damn brew­ery in the coun­try that does not have ties to Heineken, peo­ple know where they would rather spend their mon­ey.

From Alec Lath­am comes an evo­ca­tion of the Eng­lish pub in win­ter:

In win­ter, when you stand out­side the pub look­ing in through the win­dow, it looks as though it’s rain­ing on the inside. Beads of con­den­sa­tion run down the panes; a sign of inner life. A mist obscures the vol­ume of peo­ple inside – but the acoustics betray it.

Fake food at the Shed, Dulwich.

This last link has noth­ing to do with pubs or beer but has a tan­gen­tial rel­e­vance: for Vice Oobah But­ler gamed Trip Advi­sor to make a non-exis­tent restau­rant London’s top-rat­ed din­ing des­ti­na­tion. It says some­thing about hype and the per­ver­si­ty of algo­rithms and, of course, made us won­der how dif­fi­cult it might be to sim­i­lar­ly cheat Rate­Beer or Untap­pd, although the Trip Advi­sor spokesper­son But­ler dealt with makes a good point: “Gen­er­al­ly, the only peo­ple who cre­ate fake restau­rant list­ings are jour­nal­ists in mis­guid­ed attempts to test us.”

Final­ly, here’s where beer meets Bit­coin: