News, Nuggets & Longreads 17 March 2018: London Drinkers & Bristol Dockers

Here’s everything that grabbed our attention in the past week in the world of beer and pubs, from beer festivals to Friday skiving.

From Roger Protz comes a reflec­tion on the Lon­don Drinker beer fes­ti­val which has been organ­ised by north Lon­don Cam­paign for Real Ale activists annu­al­ly since 1985, but which this year is sad­ly wind­ing up:

It’s not because the fes­ti­val lacks suc­cess. On the con­trary, it’s one of CAMRA’s longest run­ning and most suc­cess­ful events. But the Cam­den Cen­tre is due to be knocked down and rede­vel­oped and find­ing – and afford­ing – a replace­ment venue is dif­fi­cult if not impos­si­ble.…

As inter­est­ing as the news itself, though, is Roger’s account of pio­neer­ing the very con­cept of tast­ing notes in the 1980s, and being jeered at for dar­ing to sug­gest that there might be choco­late notes in a dark beer.


Illustration: fanzine style picture of a pint and a packet of crisps.

Phil at Oh Good Ale seems to have found an inter­est­ing voice late­ly – a sort of stream of con­scious­ness that coa­lesces into com­men­tary if you let it. This week he wrote with some panache about the pass­ing cul­ture of Fri­day lunchtime pints:

1983, Chester

I knew we were on when I saw Tom going back for a pud­ding. Most days, we’d clock out at lunchtime, go to the can­teen for some­thing to eat – a hot meal served with plates and cut­lery, none of your rub­bish – and then it’d be down the Ces­tri­an for a pint or two, or three.… On this par­tic­u­lar Fri­day Tom went back to get some apple crum­ble and cus­tard, which he ate with great rel­ish and with­out any appear­ance of watch­ing the time, hearti­ly rec­om­mend­ing it to the rest of us; a cou­ple of peo­ple actu­al­ly fol­lowed his lead. Then he looked at his watch with some osten­ta­tion and led the way out of the can­teen.… It wasn’t a 15-minute week­day ses­sion or a stan­dard 45-minute Fri­day ses­sion; that Fri­day, we were on.


Woman drinking beer from a vintage Spaten advert.

This piece from soci­ol­o­gy web­site The Soci­ety Pages is from back in Jan­u­ary but only came to our atten­tion this week, via Mirella Ama­to via @wmndrinkingbeer:

New research pub­lished in Social Cur­rents by Helana Dar­win shows how the new cul­ture of craft beer still leans on old assump­tions about gen­der and social sta­tus.… Two inter­est­ing find­ings about what peo­ple do with these assump­tions stand out. First, patrons admired women who drank mas­cu­line beer, but looked down on those who stuck to the fem­i­nine choic­es. Men, how­ev­er, could have it both ways. Patrons described their choice to drink fem­i­nine beer as open-mindedness—the mark of a beer geek who could enjoy every­thing.


Vintage SIBA sign on a pub in London.

Some news from the SIBA AGM: plans by the organ­i­sa­tion rep­re­sent­ing British micro­brew­eries to open mem­ber­ship to larg­er inde­pen­dent brew­eries cur­rent­ly barred from join­ing were defeat­ed in a vote on Thurs­day.


Illustration: "Wodge of cash."

For the record: Last week, a cou­ple of peo­ple com­ment­ed to say that they were sur­prised there hadn’t been more talk of North­ern Monk’s crowd­fund­ing pro­gramme. We’ve writ­ten about crowd­fund­ing in gen­er­al but, yes, fair cop – because indi­vid­ual cam­paigns don’t espe­cial­ly inter­est us, we tend to for­get to men­tion them here. So, for the record, in the last few weeks…

If there’s any­thing to draw from all this it’s per­haps that out­side the craft beer bub­ble brew­eries have strong local fol­low­ings and gen­er­ate huge amounts of good­will. We’ve cer­tain­ly been asked by non-beer-obsessed friends if they ought to invest in crowd­fund­ing schemes run by their local brew­eries. So, yes, expect more of this kind of thing.


And also from the SIBA jam­boree an instant (slight­ly depress­ing) read out on the mood in the room with regard to SIBA’s plans to reg­u­late sex­ist pack­ag­ing:

It’s so easy to think there’s more of a con­sen­sus than there is, isn’t it?


To fin­ish, here’s a love­ly nugget from the Bris­tol Dock­ers project – a minute long audio clip which makes clear that, oh yes, there was def­i­nite­ly scope down the docks.

This post was writ­ten on Fri­day morn­ing and sched­uled to post so if any­thing big hap­pened and we didn’t man­age to add it, we’ll Tweet it and include it in next week’s round-up.

3 thoughts on “News, Nuggets & Longreads 17 March 2018: London Drinkers & Bristol Dockers”

  1. Cheers! I’ve just writ­ten a real­ly plod­ding and straight­for­ward chin-stro­ker post, but I’m sure I’ll go back to my excit­ing new ‘ram­bling on vague­ly’ style in future.

  2. Re Protz’s tast­ing notes: my broth­er used to work for M&B in Birm­ing­ham and told the sto­ry of a vis­it from RP some time in the ear­ly 90s. A tutored tast­ing of High­gate Old Ale was laid on for the brew­ing staff, dur­ing which Roger enthused about its “leather notes”, which, he sug­gest­ed, could be an influ­ence of the large num­ber of tan­ner­ies that were once in the region. This was met with appro­pri­ate deri­sion.

  3. I’m not sure north­ern monks fol­low­ers and investors sit out­side the craft beer bub­ble rather their is a strong dis­tinct local craft beer scene. The expan­sion of a sin­gle brew­ery may not be a major sto­ry but the amount raised in such short time is going to catch the eye of many oth­er small brewers.monk are small high­ly regard­ed and seem to know exact­ly what they are doing but I’m bet­ting that oth­ers will jump on the band­wag­on who aren’t ready

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