News, Nuggets & Longreads 20 January 2018: Listening, Little Pubs, Lemp

The Apple Tree, Carlisle.

Here’s all the beer- and pub-writing that we bookmarked in the last week, from personal experiences to industry rumblings.

First, a piece that we’ve been need­ing to read: for Good Beer Hunt­ing Lily Waite (@QueerBeerBrewCo) gives us an account of life as a trans woman in the UK beer indus­try.  One pri­ma­ry theme is frus­tra­tion at the smug assump­tion that the world of beer is some­how above prej­u­dice:

Too often, the respon­si­bil­i­ty and labour of ini­ti­at­ing change is left to those who need it most. Too often do we have to fight until exhaus­tion. If every­one in the beer industry—an indus­try that could be so much more inclu­sive (and ben­e­fit from that exponentially)—worked toward a com­mon goal of not alien­at­ing the already mar­gin­alised, then we would tru­ly begin to see a craft beer indus­try that is actu­al­ly as wel­com­ing and egal­i­tar­i­an as the majority—cis, straight men—within it think it cur­rent­ly is.

And per­haps the key take­away from dis­cus­sion around this post on Twit­ter: you are not legal­ly oblig­ed to cut in with an opin­ion unless you have some per­son­al insight or expe­ri­ence; it’s fine to lis­ten, reflect, and share.

SIBA, the organ­i­sa­tion which rep­re­sents a sub­stan­tial num­ber of inde­pen­dent British brew­eries, has appoint­ed Jae­ga Wise of Wild Card Brew­ing as a direc­tor fol­low­ing a vote at the South East region­al AGM. This is a strong state­ment giv­en Ms. Wise’s promi­nence as a crit­ic of sex­ism in the beer indus­try, most recent­ly in a high-pro­file piece by Kaleigh Wat­ter­son for the BBC News web­site.

In the US sev­er­al items of news have arrived togeth­er cre­at­ing a sense of unease – is the long-antic­i­pat­ed shake-out final­ly here? Smut­tynose Brew­ing of New Hamp­shire is to be sold at auc­tion blam­ing ris­ing com­pe­ti­tion for fail­ure to meet its growth tar­gets; Green Flash Brew­ing of San Diego has decid­ed to stop dis­trib­ut­ing beer in 32 US states and will be lay­ing off 15 per cent of its staff; and Men­do­ci­no Brew­ing has closed down along with a sis­ter com­pa­ny in New York. (Details via Brew­bound: 1 | 2 | 3)

Various books and magazine from the last 40+ years of CAMRA.

CAM­RA’s long-await­ed Revi­tal­i­sa­tion pro­pos­als have final­ly land­ed and in the words of beer writer Des de Moor “go fur­ther than many imag­ined they might”. We’re still digest­ing but some key points would seem to be:

  • CAMRA’s rep­re­sen­ta­tion widens to include all pub goers and drinkers of qual­i­ty beer
  • CAMRA’s scope widens to include qual­i­ty beer of all types
  • CAMRA will cam­paign for and pro­mote all on-trade venues where qual­i­ty beer, cider and per­ry is sold, not just tra­di­tion­al pubs and clubs
  • CAMRA will not extend its cur­rent sup­port of the off-trade

Qual­i­ty beer is vague­ly syn­ony­mous with craft beer and as good a term as any for this con­ver­sa­tion. These pro­pos­als will now need to be accept­ed at the annu­al gen­er­al meet­ing in April. (We think that’s how it works.)

Left-handed Giant taproom sign.

Though the head­line unfor­tu­nate­ly fol­lows the tired ‘Is [newish thing] killing [old thing]?’ for­mat this arti­cle by Kendall Jones, reflect­ing on the ten­sion between tap rooms and bars in the US, is also rel­e­vant to the UK in a way it would­n’t have been five years ago:

Have you been to Seattle’s Bal­lard neigh­bor­hood late­ly, where it seems there’s a brew­ery on every cor­ner? On Sat­ur­day evenings, Sun­day after­noons, week­day hap­py hours, and just about any oth­er time of any oth­er day, the brew­er tap­rooms are bustling. Down the street at the local bar, well, I have no idea what’s hap­pen­ing at the local bar, because when­ev­er I’m in Bal­lard I’m at a brew­ery tap­room. I bet your sto­ry is the same.… A recent study of drink­ing habits in major U.S. cities showed that the good-old neigh­bor­hood bar is suf­fer­ing at the hands of the local brew­ery tap­room.

The study in ques­tion was com­mis­sioned by Miller­Coors which, it seems to us, might have good rea­sons for want­i­ng to chip away at the idea of craft beer as the essence of com­mu­ni­ty, but, still, there are plen­ty of inter­est­ing thoughts here.

Crossways micropub.

Mar­tin Tay­lor makes a point about microp­ubs, which have arisen in par­al­lel with tap rooms in the UK, ask­ing him­self why it is that he does­n’t like them when he real­ly should:

I sat there with my Peak­stones Pale (£2.80 a pint, NBSS 3.5+) and looked for some­thing quirky to com­ment on. And failed.… And that’s a prob­lem with micros. How­ev­er good the beer, and how­ev­er much you val­ue the lack of things like noise and young peo­ple, they can be des­per­ate­ly qui­et.

Mar­tin has a sly sense of humour and is prob­a­bly only being about 30 per cent sin­cere with that young peo­ple crack. There are point­ed obser­va­tions in the com­ments, too, most notably from Richard Cold­well, who observes that there some microp­ubs are real­ly just ‘pubs on the cheap’.

Lemp brewery.

Away from all that news and opin­ion, here’s a love­ly piece by Chris Naf­fziger on the Lemp brew­ery malt house in St Louis, Mis­souri, which seems to have been regard­ed as a won­der of the world on its con­struc­tion in around 1874:

Today, the malt house prop­er and the malt kiln are con­sid­ered two sep­a­rate build­ings, but back when the state-of-the-facil­i­ty first opened, it was a cogent, uni­fied design, with some of the most strik­ing indus­tri­al archi­tec­ture in St. Louis. Most like­ly, it was designed by the founder of [Fred­er­ick] Widmann’s firm, Edmund Jun­gen­feld, who designed sophis­ti­cat­ed brew­ery build­ings around St. Louis, includ­ing some for Anheuser-Busch.… Due to the demo­li­tion of the malt house in the ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry, we must rely on lith­o­graphs, news­pa­per arti­cles and fire insur­ance maps to cre­ate an image of Lemp’s sec­ond addi­tion to his Chero­kee Street brew­ery.

We’ll fin­ish with this his­toric nugget which speaks to the reach of the Bass brand but oth­er­wise only leaves us with ques­tions:

2 thoughts on “News, Nuggets & Longreads 20 January 2018: Listening, Little Pubs, Lemp”

  1. I haven’t prop­er­ly digest­ed the Revi­tal­iza­tion Project stuff yet either, but I have to admit that at first glance, a lot of it is mak­ing me wince. For instance:

    [CAMRA should:]
    * Per­mit the stock­ing of British beers that do not meet the def­i­n­i­tion of real ale at CAMRA beer fes­ti­vals.
    (Great! But don’t for­get to…)
    * Ensure the lay­out of fes­ti­vals and lit­er­a­ture asso­ci­at­ed with them rein­forces CAMRA’s belief in the supe­ri­or­i­ty of cask-con­di­tioned ale.

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