News, Nuggets & Longreads 26 May 2018: Hill Farmstead, Fried Eggs, Fullers

A Victorian pub.

Here’s everything that grabbed our attention in the world of beer and pubs in the past week, from interviews to historical ponderings, via a pub crawl in Stafford.

A bit of news to begin: Robinson’s of Stock­port has decid­ed to change the brand­ing of its suc­cess­ful gold­en ale Dizzy Blonde after pub­licly resist­ing the idea ear­li­er this year:

Dizzy Blonde has been the focal point of the sex­ism debate in the beer indus­try. Despite the fact that Dizzy Blonde is a much-loved brand by many, we don’t have our heads in the sand. It is time to acknowl­edge that the pre­sen­ta­tion is not uni­ver­sal­ly accept­ed by a soci­ety that strives for, and cel­e­brates, equal­i­ty.


A brain.

In an inter­view for the Morn­ing Adver­tis­er by James Bee­son influ­en­tial Amer­i­can brew­er Shaun Hill of Hill Farm­stead has spo­ken about men­tal health and atti­tudes to alco­hol in the world of craft beer:

I was doing 12 to 14-hour days and because I live 15ft away from the brew­ery, there was very lit­tle decom­pres­sion. I would typ­i­cal­ly drink too much in order to arti­fi­cial­ly decom­press, and then I wouldn’t sleep well. Then when I woke up I would still be tired, so then I would drink as much caf­feine as I could, which would then accel­er­ate an over­all sense of anx­i­ety. It was a vicious cir­cle.”

(Foot­note: Mr Hill has since com­plained about this sto­ry, appar­ent­ly sur­prised that Mr Bee­son iden­ti­fied the most inter­est­ing parts of a broad­er con­ver­sa­tion and shaped it into a nar­ra­tive. Which is, of course, what prop­er jour­nal­ists do.)


A taster flight of beers with tiny stem glasses and receipt.

It’s #BeeryLongreads2018 day, in case you’d for­got­ten, and Lisa Grimm got in ear­ly with this reflec­tion on chang­ing atti­tudes to craft beer in the US, man­u­fac­tured scarci­ty, and the pop­u­lar­i­ty of ‘sours’ vs IPAs:

While 10 years ago it would not have been remark­able to see peo­ple lin­ing up to buy Goose Island’s Bour­bon Coun­ty Break­fast Stout, it’s now some­thing that sits on super­mar­ket shelves. Some of this is, one pre­sumes, in response to In-Bev’s pur­chase of Goose Island; one wouldn’t want to be seen drink­ing a Secret Mac­robeer, because Craft Beer Is Part Of Your Iden­ti­ty. And shift­ing tastes are no doubt at play to some extent as well, but I sus­pect two oth­er fac­tors are also in play: nov­el­ty and avail­abil­i­ty. When it was hard to find, either because of true logis­ti­cal con­straints or by design, it was Impor­tant and Spe­cial. Now…not so much.


A vintage map of Belgium (detail)

Here’s an inter­est­ing ques­tion from Alan McLeod, illus­trat­ed with some love­ly extracts from the archives: if Bel­gium only came into being as a nation in 1830, how soon after did the idea of Bel­gian beer emerge? Cer­tain­ly by 1858:

Since Noah left the ark and the sons of Noah raised up new cities, each new-formed nation has found some new stim­u­lant; but not one among the list of find­ings is at once so whole­some, cheap, and harm­less as Bel­gian beer, and I look upon its intro­duc­tion into the Unit­ed States as an impor­tant refor­ma­to­ry move­ment.


A prison cage in a Stafford pub.

Kirst Walk­er vis­it­ed Stafford for a pub crawl and the report is fun not only because it is pep­pered with her trade­mark wit but also because it bril­liant­ly con­veys the inevitable increas­ing tipsi­ness of such an expe­di­tion:

By this point, hav­ing not adhered strict­ly to the pub crawl rec­om­mend­ed mea­sure of a half pint, we were seek­ing sus­te­nance, and so scur­ried to the Sun, a Titan­ic pub. Sure­ly I had a plum porter in here, sure­ly! Untap­pd says no, but I feel in my bones I did. The Sun sells giant burg­ers which are nigh on impos­si­ble to eat demure­ly – and mine came with chips and an egg. Whether I spe­cial­ly request­ed this egg I don’t recall, but it was very wel­come.


The carpet at the Imperial, Exeter.

We like it when Phil at Oh Good Ale goes all stream-of-con­scious­ness. This week he gave us a glimpse at the dif­fi­cul­ties of leav­ing a Wether­spoon pub with porter at £1.79 a pint:

That porter… it’s good. No, I mean it, it’s fine. I mean there’s noth­ing wrong with it. Seri­ous­ly, just as the beer that it is, you know… It’s an enjoy­able beer, if you don’t think about…

You just feel a bit cheap after a while, that’s the thing. Or, maybe not cheap exact­ly, but a bit… off. A bit, kind of, is this what I’ve come to. Is this the kind of per­son I am?

Fag ash on the table, and every­thing. And the porter, I mean, it’s good, but…


Macro shot of text and diagram: 'Yeast'.

We’re delight­ed that some­one has final­ly tak­en the hint and had a go at the ‘100 Words’ for­mat, name­ly Dave S, who uses it to make a point about yeast: “Every­thing else is addi­tive, lin­ear and pre­dictable… but yeast is trans­for­ma­tive.”


Final­ly, here’s a bit of news which comes with two pho­tographs that might excit­ed brew­ers keen to clone Fuller’s ESB:

11 thoughts on “News, Nuggets & Longreads 26 May 2018: Hill Farmstead, Fried Eggs, Fullers”

  1. That pho­to solves a prob­lem! You may recall my ear­ly Vic­to­ri­an pewter ale pot. I am always on the hunt for those on eBay and keep see­ing ones with spouts. I assumed they were repur­posed quarts after the norm moved from sell­ing quarts to pints. But your man to the right in that image is illus­trat­ing the prop­er use – you buy the quart but pour your serv­ing into a small­er cup. In this case it appears to be a chal­ice. To the left, the lad appears to be drink­ing direct­ly from the non-spout­ed quart. Could it be the spout was for a dis­tinct sort of drink? Spouts for strong ales, non-spout­ed quarts for low­er strength?

  2. The MA, like most strug­gling news orgs today, rely on web­site hits and, as such, try to gen­er­ate the hits via overblown head­lines and taglines. Oth­er­wise known as click­bait of course. The author has some his­to­ry in this regard (unsur­pris­ing­ly – he’s just car­ry­ing out his employer’s wish­es) and received, and receives, a fair bit of flack for it. But not his fault I guess.

    Arti­cles should reflect the inter­view held, ensur­ing the bal­ance of items as dis­cussed comes through into the arti­cle. A much bet­ter head­line would’ve been ‘Inter­view With Hill Farm­stead Head.’ But we’ve lost that gold­en age I sup­pose.

    1. I could not agree less. If a jour­nal­ist inter­views a sports star or a politi­cian for a hour and gets – at some point – an 30 sec­ond admis­sion to a cheat of some sort or anoth­er do you real­ly think that we are going to have to plod through the 59 min­utes and 30 sec­onds of noth­ing along side that before we are treat­ed to learn­ing the real news? Of course not. You also sug­gest that the sub­ject of the inter­view has a stake in – or even some extra spe­cial skill – in shap­ing the out­come of the inter­view. Hard­ly a pow­er I am going to run into with a brew­ery own­er.

      Your “gold­en age” sounds a lot like pri­vate inter­est cliques con­trol­ling what the rest of us learn about in the media. I am sure there was a lot of gold involved in that sort of press but I pre­fer inde­pen­dent jour­nal­ism myself, of the sort on dis­play in that arti­cle.

      1. Fair enough, Alan, you’re enti­tled to your opin­ion of course.

        I’d love to see, as you would, tru­ly inde­pen­dent jour­nal­ism becom­ing more pop­u­lar. It’s cer­tain­ly grow­ing but alas you won’t find much at the MA. It, and the larg­er group it is part of, fol­low the same busi­ness mod­el as the strug­gling region­al and local press – in the main pass­ing on press releas­es from com­pa­nies but adding the lit­tle click­bait twist. I’d hate to think how much the young peo­ple there get paid, and it’s no sur­prise that many have to ‘free­lance’ and write else­where too – that’s the case in this exam­ple any­how.

        It’s arguable these days whether it’s even right to class one­self a jour­nal­ist if you’re paid for work by organ­i­sa­tions who answer to prof­it-seek­ing share­hold­ers. Reporter/writer/copywriter maybe.

        1. Fair enough. I sup­pose I like the fact that it good enough to be worth dis­agree­ing with as opposed to just doubt­ing its motives, as with too much writ­ing in beer. Not a lot of places have the integri­ty to tick of brew­ers now and then.

    2. A much bet­ter head­line would’ve been ‘Inter­view With Hill Farm­stead Head.’”

      I’m sor­ry to have to say this, Nick, but jour­nal­ism was the gain­er when you decid­ed not to enter the pro­fes­sion. Any sub/copy edi­tor who sug­gest­ed THAT as a head­line would be out the door on her/his ear imme­di­ate­ly. The idea of a head­line is to make peo­ple want to read the sto­ry, not fall asleep. Inci­den­tal­ly, I would be very sur­prised if, even today, James Bee­son wrote the head: that’s not how it hap­pens. But he cer­tain­ly led on the most inter­est­ing aspect of what Shaun Hill had to say, and any decent jour­nal­ist would have done the same: it’s an impor­tant issue and it IS ignored. And if Mr Hill didn’t like it, he shouldn’t have said it.

      1. It was a tad tongue in cheek, Mar­tyn, blimey !

        Dis­agree on the motives of the arti­cle slant, but it’s all about opin­ions, one as good as the next.

      2. Some­thing peo­ple who haven’t done it a few times may not under­stand is that even a short inter­view poten­tial­ly gen­er­ates a lot of words – what you see on the page is always ‘edit­ed high­lights’. What that means, though, is that you can get enough copy for a short­ish arti­cle out of quite a small sub-sec­tion of an inter­view – or out of a sin­gle ques­tion, if the answer is inter­est­ing enough to sug­gest fol­low-up ques­tions. I think it’s this selec­tiv­i­ty that Shaun Hill is object­ing to – not that words he said are being report­ed or that a par­tic­u­lar angle is being empha­sised, but that the major­i­ty of what he said isn’t being report­ed, at all. It’s stan­dard jour­nal­is­tic prac­tice, and I can see why the jour­nal­ist did it – the oth­er trade secret about inter­views is that an awful lot of them are dull as ditch­wa­ter – but I can under­stand Hill feel­ing a bit bruised by the expe­ri­ence.

        1. Yes, agreed, but we want­ed to say some­thing small in sup­port of James’s approach. Would be a shame if Mr Hill acci­den­tal­ly becom­ing a spokesman for men­tal health issues result­ed in him feel­ing down or got at.

  3. The inter­est in that 1981 (CBOB-win­ning) ESB recipe comes from com­par­ing it with the cur­rent recipe which they tweet­ed a while back https://twitter.com/FullersHayley/status/946762356914352133

    In 1981 they were using maize and a bit of invert but far less crys­tal than today.

    I thought the most inter­est­ing part of that Lisa Grimm piece was the 8 fridges of sour to 5 fridges of IPA in a Seat­tle bot­tleshop. Unlike some, I think NEIPAs are here to stay, but 8 fridges of sour feels like a fad. Still, that’s some jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for InBev buy­ing Wicked Weed…

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