Everything We Wrote in February 2018: Joy, Dark Star, Charabancs

Illustration: February Collage.

This has been another month where we felt as if we hadn’t written much but then on looking back found ourselves thinking, oh, was that this month? It amounts to 20 posts in all, some administrative or routine, but plenty ‘proper’.

We start­ed with a heart­felt self-indul­gence: beer should be joy­ful. (Tim Thomas, edi­tor of the West Berk­shire CAMRA mag­a­zine Ullage, has picked this one for our col­umn in the next issue.)


For Ses­sion #132 we reflect­ed on why we both­ered lug­ging the unused home-brew­ing kit all the way from Corn­wall to Bris­tol last year. Jon’s round-up of all the con­tri­bu­tions – a healthy crop – is here.


A village inn from an old postcard.

A dis­cus­sion at an aca­d­e­m­ic con­fer­ence report­ed on Twit­ter prompt­ed us final­ly to write up some thoughts on vil­lage inns that have been brew­ing for a while:

[Gut] instinct tells us that if there is a prob­lem with the Eng­lish vil­lage inn it’s real­ly a prob­lem with the Eng­lish vil­lage. It worked when peo­ple were born, lived and worked in the same place their whole lives, but how often does that hap­pen now? Vil­lages that are any­thing approach­ing cute are increas­ing­ly colonised by sec­ond-homers, town­ie retirees and the hol­i­day cot­tage indus­try, while many of the rest seem frankly for­lorn.


As the CAMRA Revi­tal­i­sa­tion project rum­bles into its ter­mi­nal phase we offered our two pen­n’orth, as well as a few tasty links reflect­ing the full range of opin­ion. Brad from Tiny Rebel respond­ed to Kirst Walk­er’s crit­i­cisms of his man­i­festo here. (PDF via Google Dri­ve.)


We liked the new Greene King her­itage beers and would like them do more of this; and then had some fol­low-up thoughts on her­itage beers more gen­er­al­ly, prompt­ed by oth­ers mus­ing on the same top­ic.


The Cantillon Brewery in Brussels.

Oh, boy – this was a big one. After a cou­ple of peo­ple snark­i­ly asked why nobody was out­raged by the Can­til­lon Rosé de Gam­bri­nus label we decid­ed to give the ques­tion some seri­ous con­sid­er­a­tion. This got shared on Face­book where (most­ly) Bel­gians either got annoyed by it – we’re not sure they all actu­al­ly read the post – or gave the ques­tion some seri­ous reflec­tion. It also prompt­ed a sub­stan­tial fol­low up from Eoghan Walsh at Brus­sels Beer City and war­rant­ed a pass­ing men­tion at DC Beer.


We shared a ver­sion of an arti­cle about brew­pubs pre­vi­ous­ly pub­lished in the Cam­paign for Real Ale’s BEER mag­a­zine. (And $2+ Patre­on sub­scribers got to see a ver­sion of our piece about Bel­gian beer fanat­ics.)


Return­ing to a favourite top­ic, we tried again to pick apart the dif­fer­ences between gold­en ale, north­ern bit­ter and pale-n-hop­py, with ref­er­ence to a new favourite, Thorn­bridge’s Made North.


A provoca­tive sug­ges­tion from Tony Nay­lor in re: craft beer pric­ing nudged us to a dif­fer­ent posi­tion: instead of try­ing to make craft beer cheap­er, why not make an effort to high­light the appeal of a broad­er range of more afford­able beers? (At least that’s what we were try­ing to say.) This got linked to by the Pub Cur­mud­geon whose view is that it would be ‘bet­ter all round if the “craft beer move­ment” could accept that it was just anoth­er some­what pricey niche mid­dle-class enthu­si­asm and stop pre­tend­ing it’s try­ing to change the world’. UPDATE 02/03/2018: And Dar­rel Kir­by respond­ed here, too.


Drinkers at a Bristol pub.

Our favourite new acqui­si­tion is a (scanned) copy of a 1975 guide to the pubs of Bris­tol which we picked apart for your enjoy­ment in a long post.


Fuller’s tak­ing over Dark Star seemed such an earth-shak­ing event to us that we had not one but two rounds of thoughts on the sub­ject. Kei­th Flett ref­er­enced us in his piece on the same sub­ject


A pub surrounded by charabancs.
The Black Swan, Pease Pot­tage, Sus­sex, sur­round­ed by chara­bancs. (SOURCE: The Slaugh­am Archive.)

Last Fri­day we shared a big blog post about the inter­twined his­to­ry of pubs and chara­bancs – that is, an ear­ly ver­sion of the tour­ing coach:

The seats in such con­veyance may be any­thing from deck chairs to wood­en box­es. Gen­er­al­ly they are over­laden, and the more ambi­tious types car­ry a pair of domes­tic steps tied to the tail­board…. Between Lon­don and Croy­don a pair of them were pulled into the kerb yes­ter­day morn­ing while a cask of beer in the leader was tapped.”


We fin­ished the month by being drawn into a worm­hole by a ques­tion from Simon Brier­cliffe: when did metered elec­tric beer pumps real­ly take off? It’s more inter­est­ing than you might expect. (They said des­per­ate­ly.)


There were the usu­al week­ly round-ups of links and news:


We also sent out a 1,000-word newslet­ter (sign up!), Insta­grammed some stuff, Face­booked a bit, and this was our biggest Tweet of the month:

And here’s the punch­line:


If you reck­on all that lot is worth any­thing please do con­sid­er sign­ing up for Patre­on (exclu­sive stuff!), buy­ing us a pint via Ko-Fi, buy­ing one of our books, or just do us a favour and share some­thing you’ve espe­cial­ly enjoyed on social media.