Blogging and writing

Everything We Wrote in May 2018: Pints, Drinks, Staropramen

"What a Lot of Words!"

It was a busy month for us — almost too busy, really, because we set ourselves rather too much of a challenge with #BeeryLongreads2018. Still, the results were probably worth it.

We began the month with one of our ‘Pub Life’ pieces based on observing an odd character one Sunday afternoon. We didn’t intend any criticism — the pub seemed to tolerate him well enough and it’s their business, really — but some of the comments suggest that freeloaders are a real problem in some pubs.

In the wake of a piece we wrote for CAMRA’s BEER magazine we asked people to tell us about their local beer mixes and beer mixing traditions. You’ll see there were plenty of comments and we gather CAMRA has also been receiving correspondence on the issue.

The Blue Bell, York.

For an emergency gathering of The Session we raided our photo archives to come up with a piece we rather liked about sepia-toned pubs. You can read all the other entries via Al’s round-up at Fuggled. The next session is, er, today, via Dave S.

We shared some writing by subscribers to our newsletter (sign up at who we asked to write 100 words about beer and pubs. The entries were great and we hope more people will give this technique a go at some point if only because it’s a great way to smash through writer’s block. Here’s the winner, by Mark Bailey:

Pi Bar Altrincham. Or a Bar called Pi? Untappd seems to think so. By design or chance you can see right down the road. Big windows. Like a moving small town painting. Looks better when it’s raining. Gives it a watercolour sheen. Noisy. Especially THAT laugh. Dogs welcome, as are children. Staff who stick around. Chatty. The Boss always lets on, knows your name. Beer artwork. Boddingtons. Fancy American brewery. Belgian. All bases covered. Early drink after buying the veg from the market. The old couple are in. As they leave, ‘See you next week!’ Him: ‘I hope so’.

Our local doesn’t display pump-clips on the bar and that’s led us to try some beers we (being human) might otherwise have missed, which got us thinking about the benefits of the absence of branding.

Details of the Staropramen packaging.

Where the heck is the Staropramen we get in 330ml bottles in the UK actually brewed? We got lots of speculative responses but no definitive answer and, you won’t be surprised to hear, heard nothing back from Molson Coors. (Gary Gillman had some extended thoughts here.)

On pints and halves: “I (Jessica) hit my teenage years during the era of the ladette when drinking beer, and especially drinking beer in pints, was a way for women to stake a claim on blokes’ territory. Big boots, no make-up, pints, swearing — don’t tell me what’s ladylike or how to behave! Up yours!”

Another round of ‘Pub Life’, this time based on observing goings on behind the bar where a baby-faced trainee was undergoing combat training with live ammo.

Oh, crikey — this one got us in hot water. Given that a few breweries have now been taken over do we have enough information about how takeovers unfold to be able to guess likely targets? We reckon so and named a test case. There were responses from Glynn Davis at Beer Insider and Keith Flett — ‘Will Beavertown Sell Out? The Case Against’. Meanwhile several news stories broke which made us feel a bit more confident in our guess.

Why do Ron Pattinson’s notes on long lost mild ales make our mouths water when, logically, we know the beer probably wasn’t great?

Trying to lift the mood after a trying week we came up with 100 words of pure positivity on why we love Tripel: “Complex without drama. Subtly luxurious. Affordable art.”

Being forced to go dry for a week made us think about the ceremony and reverence that surrounds A Drink, whether alcohol is a necessary part of that, and what mocktails can teach us about the presentation of beer.

Diagram: a plain glass of water vs. a drink with ice, fruit, herbs....

We made a first pass at a reading list, or ‘Virtual Anthology’ as we pompously call it, on the subject of IPA. We’ve had a couple of suggestions for things to add and will hopefully get chance to review it in the next few weeks.

A bit of a data dump: in 1994 the tabloid newspaper the People sat beer writer Michael Jackson down with 101 beers readily available on British high streets; we’ve typed up the full list with info on price, ABV, etc., to give a glimpse 25 years into the past.

One of our local pubs has started selling Bath Ales’ new Sulis lager and, it being lager weather, we detoured there to try it under (not really) controlled conditions. Spoiler: we really liked it.

And, finally — the reason we’ve had the past week off — for #BeeryLongreads2018 we wrote 6,000 words on the state of British beer culture, as a kind of follow-up to both Brew Britannia and 20th Century Pub. It’s a bit scrappy here and there (we keep finding new typos) but, we think, well worth your time:

In our view, if you live in England and can’t go out and find a pint of bitter with relative ease, or even a choice of bitters, then you’re being fussy about pubs, fussy about beer, or perhaps just plain awkward…. On the flipside, we’re also baffled by the suggestion that hazy IPAs have somehow come to dominate. It’s interesting that Adnams has brewed one as an experiment, and we were amused to see that Alec Latham encountered a cask version of the style at a regional beer festival, but, equally, we can go weeks without seeing one on sale.

There were also the usual Saturday morning round-ups of substantial reading, news and titbits:

5 May 2018 — Bernard, Budweiser, Broken Bones

12 May 2018 — Bass, Bavaria, Bambini

19 May 2018 — Boozers, Brussels, Benin

26 May 2018 — Hill Farmstead, Fried Eggs, Fullers

Guitar man

On the Patreon feed for $2+ subscribers we wrote about: Schrödinger’s craft beer | an upcoming Tripel Off | confused students | the best beers of weekends 1, 2, 3, 4 | an aggro barperson | a possible book project | the etiquette of sharing archive photos online | an Irishman who loves English beer | a guitar slinger | and some behind the scenes business.

If you want access to that lot, and to encourage us to keep going with all the above, do consider signing up.

Off site we wrote about Bristol for the Manchester Beer Week website (a paid gig) and you’ll find our piece on the history of homebrewing in the UK in issue #9 of Hop & Barley.

We also Instagrammed a bit, Facebooked a little, and Tweeted a ton — this sort of stuff: