News, Nuggets & Longreads for 5 May 2018: Bernard, Budweiser, Broken Bones

Double Diamond glasses hanging above a pub bar.

Here’s everything that grabbed our attention over the past week in the world of beer and pubs, from #MeToo to George Washington.

First, via @niccipeet, a star­tling sto­ry from the Czech Repub­lic by Kasia Pilat for the New York Times:

A social media post­ing by a major Czech brew­ery that appeared to mock the #MeToo move­ment has prompt­ed strong reac­tions, draw­ing praise, crit­i­cism and some soul-search­ing on sex­ism in this for­mer com­mu­nist repub­lic.… The Face­book post by the Bernard Brew­ery in Humpolec, about an hour’s jour­ney from Prague, fea­tures the like­ness of a near­ly tooth­less old woman with the hash­tag #MeToo super­im­posed in white. “The world’s gone crazy,” reads the Czech-lan­guage text on the post, which is also embla­zoned with the brewery’s logo. “Brace your­selves.”

In the UK Bernard beers have fair­ly gener­ic brand­ing – almost bland – and it’s hard to con­nect this kind of adver­tis­ing, and the fol­low-up com­ments from the brew­ery, with the stuff you see on sale at the Sheffield Tap and else­where. Anoth­er reminder (along with the reac­tion to this) that oth­er places and cul­tures can often be in dif­fer­ent places to yours on these issues.


Broken wrist X-Ray.

We’ve been miss­ing Kirst Walker’s posts but it turns out there was a good rea­son: she broke her wrist per­form­ing on stage, as she explains in this typ­i­cal­ly enter­tain­ing piece on how booze and painkillers mix, or, rather, how they don’t:

I was wor­ried about some plans I might have to can­cel so I asked the sur­geon how soon I could go about my nor­mal life after the oper­a­tion.… He assured me I could still go to Lon­don to see Hamil­ton and looked affront­ed that I doubt­ed his skills in repair­ing me. My next trip ‘out’ after the oper­a­tion was three days lat­er when I went to see Niall Horan in con­cert. There I stood at the back tak­ing full advan­tage of my invalid sta­tus to get my cousin to run to the bar for me. I had one pint of John Smiths in a plas­tic cup and lat­er felt like my dreams were run­ning out of my ears. That’s when I reduced the dose of codeine.

Oh, that turn of phrase! Won­der­ful.


George Washington

Jeff Alworth takes Bud­weis­er to task for one of the most extreme exam­ples of ‘inspired by’ ahis­tor­i­cal mar­ket­ing we’ve ever heard of – a beer they’re sug­gest­ing has some con­nec­tion to brew­ing instruc­tions scrib­bled by George Wash­ing­ton but which real­ly doesn’t:

The Eng­lish did not drink lagers. It’s hard to imag­ine a sce­nario in which Wash­ing­ton would have even encoun­tered the word, much less the beer. Colo­nial brew­ing was hard because bar­ley didn’t grow well and Eng­lish ingre­di­ents were expensive–as we’ll see when we come to Washington’s recipe. Colonists cer­tain­ly weren’t dig­ging out cel­lars for care­ful lager­ing. In fact, they most­ly weren’t brew­ing much at all… [And] Washington’s recipe was… odd.


U Fleku sign, 2008.

And we’re going to stick with Jeff Alworth, this time writ­ing for All About Beer on the sub­ject of the cult dark beer from Prague, U Fleků:

When cit­ing the year of their incep­tion, many breweries—well, how to say this del­i­cate­ly?—pol­ish the apple some­what. The date you find on a bot­tle may refer to monks who brewed there once, or an unre­lat­ed brew­ery from cen­turies ear­li­er, or some oth­er abstruse con­nec­tion to antiq­ui­ty. That’s why it’s nice to be able to high­light tru­ly his­toric brew­eries. And, when they hap­pen to make the clas­sic exam­ple of a beer style, they deserve spe­cial cel­e­bra­tion and accla­ma­tion. Thus I give you the sprawl­ing brew­pub at the heart of Prague, U Fleků, founded—really!—in 1499. The restau­rant is now most famous (or noto­ri­ous) for its oom­pah bands and the kitschy “old-world” expe­ri­ence it presents to tourists, but for beer fans, a real trea­sure can be found in the mugs deliv­ered by the tray­ful. A beer of just one fla­vor, a stand­out tmavé (dark lager) in a land of světlé (pale).

(It’s a beer we’ve not had since our big trip to Goslar-Leipzig-Prague back in 2008 – almost a decade ago! – but we found it so deli­cious that the taste seems to linger, even a decade on.)


Pale Ale

We enjoyed these in-depth reflec­tions on white stout from Josh Weik­ert for Craft Beer and Brew­ing mag­a­zine:

Giv­en the some­times aggres­sive and neg­a­tive reac­tion to White Stout, it’s easy to come away with the impres­sion that this must be a beer that tastes horrible—like ask­ing peo­ple how they feel about cheese on fish. Under­neath the invec­tive, though, there doesn’t seem to be much objec­tion to the White Stout on its mer­its. At least half of the push­back is against the nomen­cla­ture employed—the afore­men­tioned “it’s real­ly just a blonde ale with cof­fee” troupe, or the “if it’s white, it’s not a stout” brigade.


Four Thieves, Battersea: 'Brewery' sign over door.

A bit of busi­ness news: Laine’s, the Lon­don-Brighton pub and brew­pub chain, has been acquired by Patron Cap­i­tal which is also behind Punch Tav­erns these days, as report­ed in the Morn­ing Adver­tis­er. This is anoth­er of those hard-to-fol­low busi­ness sto­ries where Com­pa­ny X acquires a stake in Com­pa­ny Y which is part owned by Com­pa­ny Z, a joint investor in Com­pa­ny Q, and so on, but the gist is this: pub chains with any kind of craft beer cred­i­bil­i­ty are so hot right now, espe­cial­ly if they also have the poten­tial to sup­ply own-brand beer.


BrewDog Beers on a shelf.

Anoth­er bit of news: min­i­mum pric­ing for alco­hol came into effect in Scot­land ear­li­er this week. This is either very bad news (Pub Cur­mud­geon et al) or a step in the right direc­tion depend­ing who you lis­ten to. For what it’s worth, our view has not changed much since we wrote this.


Archive items.

Some­thing is hap­pen­ing in Texas that ought to be hap­pen­ing every­where: Megan Blair at St Edward’s Uni­ver­si­ty is active­ly col­lect­ing items relat­ing to local brew­ing his­to­ry as it con­tin­ues to unfold. From a report by Ari­an­na Auber for Austin 360:

A tap han­dle from the orig­i­nal Celis Brew­ery; a fad­ed food menu from Water­loo Brew­ing, the first mod­ern, legal brew­pub in Texas; and old Adelbert’s tokens used in the days before brew­eries could sell pints in their tap­room are just some of the items Blair has begun to keep safe in the bot­tom-floor archival room at St. Edward’s Mun­day Library.… The wid­ow of Steve Ander­son — the brew­mas­ter at long-defunct Water­loo and then founder and brew­mas­ter of Big Bend Brew­ing until his death in 2015 — also donat­ed some of the things he had kept from his many years in the beer indus­try, includ­ing gold, sil­ver and bronze medals won at Great Amer­i­can Beer Fes­ti­val.


Some­thing about Ken’s post on the sub­ject of pubs and tee­to­tal­ism grabbed us – per­haps it’s that the deep fam­i­ly sto­ry it hints at it is so sharply under­cut by the joc­u­lar tone? It cer­tain­ly feels as if it could be the open­ing to some kind of hor­ror sto­ry: “The beer will get you in the end you know…”


Final­ly, here’s some brew­ery wildlife:

2 thoughts on “News, Nuggets & Longreads for 5 May 2018: Bernard, Budweiser, Broken Bones”

  1. Why illus­trate your sto­ry about min­i­mum alco­hol pric­ing in Scot­land with a pic­ture of beers which will not be affect­ed by the min­i­mum pric­ing reg­u­la­tions?

    My local Lidl has split up the mul­ti­packs of canned cider and is game­ly try­ing to sell them at £1.10 each.

    1. Because we do this between 6–8 am on Sat­ur­day morn­ing, slight­ly grog­gy and grumpy, and it was the first pic­ture of super­mar­ket shelves we had at hand.

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