Here’s everything that’s grabbed our attention in beer and pubs in the past week from jam sandwiches to Mars exploration, via a few rounds of India pale ale.
The ‘World Cup Of…’ has become a popular Twitter meme, allowing users to vote for their favourite biscuits/films/sub-species in a series of rounds until only the best are left standing. Now, south London relaxed-lifestyle blog Deserter has used just such an exercise to identify the top ten pubs on its manor. You might not agree with the final round-up, especially if you know that part of the capital well, but there’s no doubting that it’s a handy starter set and plenty to keep any visitor busy for a long weekend.
Katie at The Snap and the Hiss has done something we’ve always wanted to and visited Fitzpatrick’s Temperance Bar in Rawtenstall, Lancashire:
Mr Fitzpatrick’s OG mixtures have been brewed since 1836 and as far as anyone is willing to reveal, the recipes haven’t changed since the family moved to England in 1899. The menu is extensive, with these fabulous Fitzpatrick cordials at the centre of it all…. I chose a cold fizzy Rhubarb and Rosehip, which was unreasonably delicious. Yes, it would be sensational with a dash of vodka, but alone it was totally passable as a social drink. I also picked a Hot Temperance Toddy, which is Blood Tonic, lemon and honey. I was immediately cured of every illness known to Western medicine and could suddenly sing in a perfect soprano.
At Beer et seq Gary Gillman continues to dig in collections, digital libraries and archives, unearthing mentions of beer in places most of us don’t think to look. This week an academic paper by Dr Alan Pryor was the jumping off point for musings on the importance of the word ‘India’ in the history of India pale ale (IPA):
Bass, and the other pale ale brewers who superseded Hodgson, benefitted from a new association, at home. This was reinforced by the reports of travellers that Bass Pale Ale, and often Allsopp’s or Salt’s beer, were available almost anywhere one could journey. They were markers of Empire, or at least of Empire trade, when they appeared by reports in Brazil, Patagonia, Quebec, or Peking. Hodgson’s beer was the first to acquire such global reach, and became iconic. Later Bass took that over, indeed expanded it…. Products like IPA had an ineffable quality from being both foreign and domestic. There wasn’t a single (eastern) foreign material in IPA, but it didn’t matter: foreigness resulted from the product being designed for India and other far-flung markets.
Roger Protz recently spent the day at Bateman’s where he dug into the past and present of XXXB, meeting four generations of brewers, and also tasting an ancient bottle of vintage ale — another of our favourite sub-genres of beer writing.
Photographer Marco Schonocchia has been photographing pubs and the Guardian has a generous gallery of his pictures. We’re not sure the headline quite tells the story (when do they ever) because these clearly aren’t all ‘working class pubs’ but it’s evident that he’s not afraid to get stuck in, photographing tattooed arses in gents toilets and sticking his camera right down into his subjects colourful dentures. You can see the full exhibition of his work at the Italian Cultural Institute on Belgrave Square from 26 January until 3 March.
Good news for those of us struggling to reconcile a yearning for space exploration with a love of beer: hops, it turns out, will probably grow just fine on Mars. That’s the conclusion of a paper red at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society by Dr Edward F. Guinan, as reported by Kenneth Chang for the New York Times:
“I was trying to come with a project for the students to do, a catchy project that would be fairly easy,” Dr. Guinan said. “I kept telling them, ‘You’re on Mars, there’s a colony there, and it’s your job to feed them. They’re all depending on you.’” …. For the most part, the students chose practical, nutritious plants like soy beans and kale in addition to potatoes. Some added herbs like basil and mint so that astronauts could enjoy more flavorful food on thesolar system’s fourth world…. And one group chose hops…. “Because they’re students,” Dr. Guinan said. “Martian beer.” (He vetoed marijuana.)
Barm at I Might Have a Glass of Beer has been pondering one of those aspects of beer culture rarely encountered in the Craft Zone but quite common beyond: the little spatulas used to slice the top off beer foam, otherwise known as ‘skimmers’ or ‘beer combs’. We saw these being used quite expertly on our recent trip to Brussels and they did seem to smooth out the foam in some odd way, removing the froth to leave only cream, which neatness is apparently appealing to pils drinkers in particular. Fair enough.
We’re going to finish with this interesting question from Twitter: