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)
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.)
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.
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’.
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: