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.

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