News, Nuggets and Longreads 13 January 2018: Rawtenstall, Lincolnshire, Mars

Faience tiles on a Cardiff pub.

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.

Jam sandwiches.

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.

Detail from a vintage India Pale Ale beer label.

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.

Bateman's brewers in Mr George's Bar.

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.

Two elderly drinkers in a London pub.
SOURCE: Mar­co Schonocchia/Guardian

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.

Abstract illustration: Strange Voyage.

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:

2 thoughts on “News, Nuggets and Longreads 13 January 2018: Rawtenstall, Lincolnshire, Mars”

  1. Pint, Dob­ber, Dam­age Plan, Earl Grey IPA and Assisi, with honourable/wistful men­tions to Imp of the Per­verse, Built to Fall, Brew 900, Fraz­zle Rock and McKen­na’s Revenge.

  2. Far too many sorts of beer and far too much of it was tran­shipped in the 1700s and before for IPA alone to have that sin­gu­lar effect. The lift­ing and coopt­ing of the three let­ters for oth­er forms of beer in the last few decades could explain it in ret­ro­spect I sup­pose but the notices in the papers from the time are too clear – with porter in par­tic­u­lar being the pre­ced­ing dar­ling of the expat colo­nial admin­is­tra­tor.

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