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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