News, Nuggets & Longreads 10 March 2018: Lemondrop, Brewdog, Hardknott

Here’s all the writing about beer and pubs that leapt out at us in the past seven days, covering everything from Pink IPA to Gothenburgs.

First, a blast of pure rav­ing enthu­si­asm to cheer every­one up as Steve The Pour Fool Body wax­es lyri­cal about the “new rock-star flower-bomb” hop vari­ety that “makes your beer taste like Lemon­Heads can­dy”. It sounds good; we want to try it.

Illustration: "No! Bad dog."

Now on to the prob­lem sto­ry of the week, Brew­Dog’s Pink IPA. We con­sid­ered pro­vid­ing a round-up of all the ‘hot takes’ but decid­ed instead to point to one real­ly sub­stan­tial, thought­ful post by Oli (@CraftBeerCommie) guest post­ing at Craft Queer. It express­es a counter view to ours (“the idea itself doesn’t seem so dread­ful even if the exe­cu­tion is ter­ri­bly clum­sy”) and puts this spe­cif­ic inci­dent into a broad­er con­text of Brew­Dog’s behav­iour over the years:

Brew­dog as a com­pa­ny has a long his­to­ry of mis­un­der­stand­ing (some might be so bold as to say abus­ing) social com­men­tary as a mar­ket­ing tool.… [In] the com­pa­ny’s ear­li­er years, the bad humoured, unapolo­get­i­cal­ly offen­sive tone and actions of the com­pa­ny’s founder-own­ers was able to shel­ter beneath the veil of an appro­pri­at­ed rev­o­lu­tion­ary lan­guage and DIY punk ide­ol­o­gy.… After this, how­ev­er, it seems that, as with so many oth­er com­pa­nies, Brew­dog inten­tion­al­ly courts con­tro­ver­sy as a means of mar­ket­ing itself. The search for an ini­tial, per­haps viral reac­tion of offence before the sec­ondary “A‑ha! Here’s the punch­line” is yet again deliv­ered in a man­ner that relies as much on cus­tomer enrage­ment as it does engage­ment.

For more on this sub­ject check out Alco­hol by Vol­ume where the opin­ions of women in and adja­cent to the beer indus­try have been col­lat­ed.

Portman Group logo.

At Cre­ma’s Beer Odyssey Emma offers feed­back on the meet­ing she attend­ed at the Port­man Group about the reg­u­la­tion of sex­ist beer pack­ag­ing along with some thoughts about where things might be going:

When the pre­sen­ta­tion dis­played a com­plaint about a beer (Wye Val­ley Brew­ery’s Dorothy Good­body’s Whole­some Stout) which had been report­ed for breach­ing sec­tion 3.2 (d) of the code (a drink should not… “sug­gest any asso­ci­a­tion with sex­u­al activ­i­ty or sex­u­al suc­cess”) this was greet­ed with dis­be­lief by the audi­ence.… [How] could this not be in vio­la­tion of the code? The answer is that the code in its cur­rent form men­tions sex­u­al ref­er­ences on beer pack­ag­ing only with­in nar­row mar­gins: a prod­uct should not sug­gest that it makes the con­sumer more attrac­tive or that it leads to “sex­u­al suc­cess” which is actu­al­ly quite an unpleas­ant sound­ing, mas­cu­line phrase. Pos­si­bly even a lit­tle dat­ed.

The Dean Tavern.Now, on to pubs. First, on his blog Pub­meis­ter Dun­can Mack­ay, one of the pub tick­ers we pro­filed in the last issue of CAM­RA’s BEER mag­a­zine, reports on a rare sur­viv­ing ‘Gothen­burg pub’ in Mid­loth­i­an:

The Dean Tav­ern in New­ton­grange is one of very few sur­viv­ing Goths and per­haps the last to oper­ate the prin­ci­ples in so much as it is owned by a Trust that dis­trib­utes prof­its back into the com­mu­ni­ty. And, great joy, it now appears for the first time in the Good Beer Guide.… Dat­ing from 1898 but with some more recent addi­tions, it must be the only pub in the Guide with a Tem­per­ance Lounge and reflects well the his­to­ry of the vil­lage. Pit­head baths were only intro­duced at the Lady Vic­to­ria Col­liery as late as 1954.

A pint of stout.

Mean­while in Lan­cashire Mark Brig­gs, AKA Real Ale Up North, went on a crawl of thriv­ing wet-led pubs in Rawten­stall, as report­ed in his reg­u­lar local news­pa­per col­umn:

[There] was good news this week when lat­est fig­ures released, revealed that despite the num­ber of wet-led pubs hav­ing fall­en by almost 20 per cent in the last five years, the rate has slowed from 6 per cent in 2014 to 3 per cent in 2017.… So, are our wet-led estab­lish­ments show­ing signs of a revival? Is this sec­tor of the mar­ket bot­tom­ing out? In 2014 there were 1,604 wet-led pub clo­sures. This fig­ure was reduced dra­mat­i­cal­ly in 2016, when 664 called last orders.

Detail from an old brewing log.

For Good Beer Hunt­ing beer his­to­ri­an Bri­an Alberts reflects at length on the pre­car­i­ous state of many brew­eries’ archives and records, and the long-term cost of busi­ness­es fail­ing to see them­selves as part of his­to­ry in the mak­ing:

David Thieme.… lives in Lafayette, Indi­ana, where his descen­dants found­ed the once-promi­nent Thieme & Wag­n­er Brew­ing Com­pa­ny. At its height in the 1890s, Thieme & Wag­n­er pro­duced more than 40,000 bar­rels annu­al­ly for thirsty Hoosiers. But like many brew­eries, it nev­er recov­ered from Pro­hi­bi­tion. For more than two years, Thieme has worked to re-estab­lish the brewery’s pres­ence in his Mid­west­ern home, start­ing with a bar on Main Street, dec­o­rat­ed with Thieme & Wag­n­er mem­o­ra­bil­ia.… Still, Thieme knows far less about the fam­i­ly busi­ness than he’d like to.… The brew­ing logs, meet­ing min­utes, and sales receipts that might help him answer basic his­tor­i­cal ques­tions about the brewery—what states it was sold in, for instance—have all been lost.

A page from the 1893 Brewers' Guardian.

Speak­ing of beer his­to­ry, here’s some­thing from 1893 that might reward a few min­utes of your brows­ing time: every edi­tion of the British Brew­ers’ Guardian for that year now unlocked and ful­ly read­able at Google Books.

A reminder: if a book you’re sure is in the pub­lic domain is not ful­ly view­able at Google Books, just click the link that says ‘Where’s the rest o this book?’ and ask them to review it. We do it all the time and have invari­ably been suc­cess­ful. You might start with those oth­er edi­tions of the Brew­ers’ Guardian list­ed at the bot­tom of the page linked above, if you fan­cy a mis­sion.

Dave Bailey in contemplative mood.

Some­thing inter­est­ing is going on at Hard­Knott where co-founder Dave Bai­ley (no rela­tion) has spent the last week pon­der­ing his brew­ery’s rela­tion­ship to larg­er brew­ers, think­ing out loud about what he should or should­n’t say pub­licly, and then say­ing the things he want­ed to say very pub­licly indeed:

With urgency I am call­ing upon all brew­ers who are mem­bers of SIBA to reject the motion ask­ing for the mem­ber­ship to be enlarged to take in the biggest PLC brew­ing busi­ness­es. If this motion suc­ceeds we can be sure that SIBA will move even fur­ther way from the inter­ests of the cur­rent mem­ber­ship.… Proxy vot­ing has been made par­tic­u­lar­ly dif­fi­cult it seems. Cou­ple that with a gag­ging order on us talk­ing about the issue shows clear intent to sub­vert the course of this par­tic­u­lar demo­c­ra­t­ic process. It is your duty to ensure you get your proxy vote set-up up with urgency.… For this rea­son I have decid­ed to break ranks and ignore the embar­go, hence this blog.

This sto­ry about CAM­RA’s Revi­tal­i­sa­tion project in the Herts Adver­tis­er isn’t espe­cial­ly inter­est­ing in its own right but take a look at the head­line: COULD CAMRA START SUPPORTING LAGERS? A taste, there, of how the main­stream press might inter­pret this if com­mu­ni­ca­tions aren’t man­aged care­ful­ly.

And final­ly, here’s what we would be doing if we were in or near Man­ches­ter this week­end:

If you enjoy these week­ly round-ups do con­sid­er encour­ag­ing us to keep going by sign­ing up for our Patre­on or sim­ply buy­ing us a pint via Ko-Fi, which is dead quick and sim­ple.

9 thoughts on “News, Nuggets & Longreads 10 March 2018: Lemondrop, Brewdog, Hardknott”

  1. I’m a bit sur­prised that there has­n’t been more talk about the North­ern Monk crowd­fund­ing. Maybe I’ll have to become a patre­on so I can force you to write about it (that’s how it works, right?).

    1. Ooh, snarky! Not sure what there is to say about it. We’re gen­er­al­ly mas­sive­ly unin­ter­est­ed in crowd­fund­ing. Wrote about it a bit in the abstract here, though.

      1. I was­n’t going for snark, hon­est! I was hop­ing for gen­tle josh­ing.

        As far as NM are con­cerned the inter­est­ing thing (to me any­way) is that they seem to be a com­pa­ny that seems to go about their busi­ness rel­a­tive­ly qui­et­ly, but they’ve eas­i­ly exceed­ed their fundrais­ing tar­get. I won­der whether this will mean a raft of oth­er com­pa­nies fol­low­ing suit.

        1. Sort of, but it’s not that we have any prob­lem with crowd­fund­ing as a prac­tice, it’s just not very inter­est­ing to us as a sub­ject.

          1. Indeed. What they’re want­i­ng to fund and their future expan­sion plans are much more inter­est­ing.

  2. The “crawl of thriv­ing wet-led pubs in Rawten­stall” con­sists of three(!) out­lets, none of which sound like they were there ten years ago (two self-styled microp­ubs and one with the word ‘Tap’ in the name). I’m glad they’re thriv­ing, but I won­der what’s going on with, well, ordi­nary pubs.

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