Here’s all the writing and news about beer and pubs that grabbed our attention in the past week, from Chicago to Rochdale. But we’ll start with some bits of news.
- Cloudwater is opening a London bar, following the lead of Bristol brewery Moor whose Bermondsey outpost had its grand opening last week. (This strikes us an interesting trend.)
- Only reported in a single Tweet as far as we can see, at the time of writing: BrewDog is to acquire indie cider producer Hawkes, according to MCA Insight.
- C&C, with support from AB-InBev (or something like that), has acquired the Matthew Clark and Bibendum booze wholesaling bits of the mid-collapse Conviviality.
- We haven’t been tracking every brewery closure in 2018 like we did in 2017 but did notice these two: Offbeat has wound up; and a brewery we’d never heard of, Stoney Ford, has ceased brewing operations after two years.
For Punch Gray Chapman takes a deep look into attitudes around gender in relation to beer, inspired by Helana Darwin’s research that we mentioned in one of these round-ups a few weeks ago. The article is called ‘What We Talk About When We Talk About “Bitch Beer”’:
Beer is inextricably tangled up in gender, and no one understands this better than the women who choose to drink it. Much of its history is rooted in a blue-collar, canvas coveralls-tinged vision of masculinity that’s still evident in almost every aspect of its supply chain; label art commonly recalls Axe Body Spray at best, cartoon porn at worst. Less aggressive but more ubiquitous is the practically algorithmic aesthetic of craft beer bars, with their warehouse-industrial interiors and a Ron Swanson-esque penchant for rough-hewn wood and leather, evoking a nostalgia for a time and place where Real Men and their work-calloused hands made things.
The other big read this week (well, last week, but we missed it) is Josh Noel’s piece for the Chicago Tribune which trails his upcoming book on Goose Island with a look at the company’s culture and fortunes in the wake of the 2011 takeover by AB-InBev:
Virtually every major Goose Island brand was down nationally last year in grocery, convenience, big box and drug stores, according to Chicago-based market research firm IRI: 312 Urban Wheat Ale fell 19 percent; Green Line Pale Ale and Four Star Pils were each down 35 percent; Honker’s Ale fell 49 percent; even sales of Goose Island variety packs were down 33 percent…. Even more of a concern was the damage in Goose Island’s own backyard: 312 Urban Wheat Ale, Green Line, Four Star Pils and Honker’s Ale were all down double digits in Chicago. Goose Island’s overall Chicago sales were down 7 percent, while one of its biggest local competitors, Revolution Brewing, was up 34 percent.
There is a lot of buzz around taprooms right now — we certainly feel it in Bristol — and Zoe Wood has investigated the trend for the Guardian, triggered by research from SIBA:
“The tap room provides a real connection between the customers and where their beer comes from,” says [John] Gyngell of [Leeds-based North Brewing Company]. “It also makes sense financially as we are able to sell the beer at retail rather than trade margins. This has been invaluable in supporting our expansion during our first two years of trading.”
Good Beer Guide pub crawler Duncan Mackay reports from The Luppit Inn in Devon:
Meet Mary. The Luppitt Inn is a parlour room in her farmhouse. It is not so much a pub as a beer house, from the days when licensing laws permitted their creation. These days it would be called a micropub. Mary is 96 years old and has been there since the 1940’s, formerly with her husband Albert, but it has been in the family for over a century.
(This makes us think we missed a trick — we should certainly have interviewed Mary for 20th Century Pub.)
From Ed news of a range of branded malts apparently aimed at craft brewers, with a website that made him cringe:
I really don’t know what to make of it, but nautical themed cartoons aren’t what I look for when I’m after malt. I don’t need each malt type to be given a themed brand either, but UK figures for the malt analyses would be nice.
Tandleman has revived his project to visit all the Sam Smith pubs in his neck of the woods and discovered a relic of the 1930s in the process:
Built in 1938, [The Kingsway Hotel] is a fantastic example of inter war pub design. Totally unspoilt, it has a plethora of original features, such as the aforementioned parquet floor, a working revolving door, panelled walls, proper fireplaces, as as well as the rather grand lamps of the time. A bit of a worm hole to the past in fact. An overspill dining room was again tastefully decorated in the same comfortable 1930s manner. Local photos enhanced the experience, but the eerie quiet must have made dining a rather soulless experience and one which I was glad I hadn’t signed up to.
To finish, something silly, via the Onion AV Club: Randy Colpek loves Kirkland Light, the own-brand beer for Costco discount club stores in the US, and thought it deserved its own TV ad campaign. So he produced one in his yard, with his pals. (Well, we say silly, but watch this and then think again about ‘Bitch Beer’ and questions of masculinity…)